Dean of Big Data

William Schmarzo

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Latest Blogs from William Schmarzo
It takes years – sometimes a lifetime – to perfect certain skills in life: hitting a jump shot off the dribble, nailing that double high C on the trumpet, parallel parking a Ford Expedition. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book, “Outliers,” discussing the amount of work – 10,000 hours – requi...
I’ve gotten several requests to share all of my work and research behind the Economic Value of Data research work that I did with the University of San Francisco. Given my lazy nature, I thought it would just be easier to create a blog, where I can place all my current and future resea...
Okay, so my vacations don’t necessary seem like other folks’ vacations. Yes, we relax. Yes, we spend too much money. Yes, we eat too much food. But for some reason, unusual learning opportunities pop up during our vacations, and this year’s vacation was no different. This year’s vacati...
My discussions with organizations looking to “digitally transform” themselves is yielding some interesting observations. I expect that when these discussions move into the execution phase, we will start to create some “Laws of Digital Transformation” that will guide organizations digit...
I recently visited my dentist and found the experience, well, less than satisfactory. I was subjected to 45 minutes of lecturing while strapped into the dentist chair: “You don’t brush enough times a day. You don’t brush long enough. You don’t brush correctly. You aren’t using the r...
Like me, I’m sure that many of you nerds have read the book “I, Robot.” “I, Robot” is the seminal book written by Isaac Asimov (actually it was a series of books, but I only read the one) that explores the moral and ethical challenges posed by a world dominated by robots. But I read t...
In today’s uncertain political and economic climate, the ability to maintain business-as-usual should not be taken for granted. After all, an organization’s ‘status-quo’ business model is typically the source of more than 90 percent of its revenues and 100 percent of its profits. It’s ...
I recently had the opportunity to give a 10-minute keynote at DataWorks Summit 2017. I know what most of you are thinking: Schmarzo can barely introduce himself in 10 minutes! What sort of keynote could he give in just 10 minutes? And to be honest, I too struggled with what to say. ...
When talking to clients about their business goals, most business executives are pretty clear as to what they want to accomplish, such as reducing customer churn or reducing inventory costs or improving quality of care or improving product line profitability. But these “one dimensional...
In the blog “From Autonomous to Smart: Importance of Artificial Intelligence,” we discussed the two critical artificial intelligence (AI) challenges in creating “smart” edge devices: Artificial Intelligence Challenge #1: How do the Artificial Intelligence algorithms handle the unexpec...
We all probably remember the movie (“Jurassic Park”), even if we don’t remember this exact scene: Dr. Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum is explaining Chaos Theory to Dr. Ellie Sattler, played by Laura Dern. Dr. Malcolm is explaining how random, seemingly negligible events can disrupt e...
It’s hard to get into the world of the Internet of Things (IOT) without eventually talking about Digital Twins. I was first exposed to the concept of Digital Twins when working with GE. Great concept. But are Digital Twins only relevant to physical machines such as wind turbines, jet e...
Sometimes I write a blog just to formulate and organize a point of view, and I think it’s time that I pull together the bounty of excellent information about Machine Learning. This is a topic with which business leaders must become comfortable, especially tomorrow’s business leaders (t...
In the blog “From Autonomous to Smart: Importance of Artificial Intelligence,” we laid out the artificial intelligence (AI) challenges in creating “smart” edge devices: Artificial Intelligence Challenge #1: How do the Artificial Intelligence algorithms handle the unexpected, such as fl...
The problem with living in a rapidly changing world is that things are always changing. But as Yogi Berra (famous Hall of Fame baseball catcher for the New York Yankees and occasional American philosopher) said: “You can observe a lot by just watching.” Well, more than watching, we are...
A recent BusinessWeek article titled “America’s Retailers Are Closing Stores Faster Than Ever” summarizes the epidemic that retailers are facing today (see Figure 1). Retailers are closing stores at a record path and the driving force behind the acceleration in store closings is Amazo...
On Saturday February 11, 2017, my daughter and her friend were driving from a basketball game in Chico back to our home in Palo Alto. Unfortunately, due to several days of heavier than normal rains, the Oroville Dam spillway broke and flooded many of the roads between Chico and Palo Al...
Given all the brilliant things that are happening today with machine learning and artificial intelligence, I just don’t understand why “fake news” is still an issue. I think the solution is right in front of us; that is, if social media networks are really serious about addressing this...
Many organizations are associating data monetization with selling their data. But selling data is not a trivial task, especially for organizations whose primary business relies on its data. Organizations new to selling data need to be concerned with privacy and Personally Identifiable ...
My job has the great advantage of bringing me in touch with some outstanding and truly brilliant people.  As an example, last year I spoke at the PrecisionAg Vision Conference in Phoenix (and I’ll be speaking there again this fall on October 12), and ran into a number of companies that...
During the recent Dell EMC World in Viva Las Vegas, Dell EMC TV interviewed me about my just-completed research project with the University of San Francisco, where I am an Executive Fellow and teach the School of Management course titled the “Big Data MBA.” Check out the video at the b...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to change everything by enabling “smart” environments (homes, cities, hospitals, schools, stores, etc.) and smart products (cars, trucks, airplanes, trains, wind turbines, lawnmowers, etc.). I recently wrote about the importance of moving beyond “c...
In calculus, the second derivative is the measure of instantaneous acceleration or velocity of a function of a function f. For example, the second derivative of the position of a vehicle with respect to time is the instantaneous acceleration of the vehicle, or the rate at which the vel...
For a recent University of San Francisco MBA class, I wanted to put my students in a challenging situation where they would be forced to make difficult data science trade-offs between gathering data, preparing the data and performing the actual analysis. The purpose of the exercise wa...
Mark Twain famously said “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Maybe if Mark Twain were alive today, he’d add “alternative facts” to that list. BusinessWeek in the article “Lies, Damn Lies, and Financial Statistics” reminds us of the management...
Industry after industry is under siege as companies embrace digital transformation (DX) to disrupt existing business models and disintermediate their competitor’s customer relationships. But what do we mean by “Digital Transformation”? Digital Transformation The coupling of granular, r...
I am so blessed with smart friends, and I am fortunate to count John Morley among that group. John recently introduced me to Stanford’s Design School (d.school). To say I was blown away would be an understatement. I was so jazzed by the one-hour tour that I have signed up for a 3-hour ...
The recent deluge of rains in Northern California have flooded streets, brought down trees and plugged storm sewers. As I was trying to make my way around the neighborhood, I thought of a classroom exercise to help my MBA students to identify the use cases upon which they could focus ...
Well, my recent University of San Francisco research paper “Applying Economic Concepts To Big Data To Determine The Financial Value Of The Organization’s Data And Analytics Research Paper” has fueled some very interesting conversations. Most excellent! That was one of its goals. It is...
“Apophenia is the propensity to see patterns in random data.” We encounter it all the time in the real world. Examples include gamblers who see patterns in how the cards are being dealt or investors who imagine patterns in the movement of certain stocks, or basketball fans who believe...
My daughter is taking a class on entrepreneurship in her senior year of high school (yep, that’s the Silicon Valley for you). She loves the class, the energy of the teacher, and the creativity associated with the subject. As a result, we have had several conversations about what does i...
I have seen the future! Of course, I seem to say that every other month (maybe that’s because the future keeps changing?), but this is a good one. The future is a collision between big data (and data science) and application development that will yield a world of “intelligent apps.” Th...
A recent article titled “We Are Likely 3-5 Years Out From Advanced Analytics Being Critical To The Viability Of A Company” (and I thought my titles were too long) interviewed Walter Storm, the Chief Data Scientist at Lockheed Martin. The article offers some great perspectives such as: ...
Okay, I am weird (tell me something that I don’t know, say most of my friends). For Christmas I wanted a Nike Apple Watch to go with my existing FitBit and Garmin fitness trackers (I look sort of like a cyborg in the photo below…which is always cool).
My son Max is home from college and that always leads to some interesting conversations. Max is in graduate school at Iowa State University where he is studying kinesiology and strength training. As part of his research project, he is applying physics to athletic training in order to...
As more organizations try to determine where best to deploy their limited budgets to support data and analytics initiatives, they realize a need to ascertain the financial value of their data and analytics – which means basic economic concepts are coming into play.  While many of you p...
“Maturity models” can be very useful. Every analyst firm and most vendors have created some sort of maturity model. Not only can a maturity model benchmark where you are with respect to your cohorts, but good maturity models also provide a roadmap to help organizations advance along th...
In January 28, 2013, we released the “Big Data Storymap”. Since releasing the storymap, we have gotten lots of positive feedback. It really seemed to work in highlighting the key aspects and approaches to achieving big data success. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to re-visit the...
My daughter called with a frantic message. She was driving my car (why she was driving my car when she has her own is the subject for another time) and a warning message appeared on the car console: “Engine overheated! Stop engine and allow to cool down” (see Figure 1). Fortunately, m...
I’m a fan of Woody Allen movies, especially his earlier movies (can’t tell you how much I learned from the movie “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…” but that’s a topic for a different blog). In the Woody Allen classic “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen’s character (Alvy Singer) ma...