Bill Schmarzo talks about he Dangers of Legacy Thinking and the power of Hope to Innovation

In this week's Industrial Talk Podcast and in conjunction with IoT Solutions World Congress, we're talking to Bill Schmarzo – The Dean of Big Data about “The Dangers of Legacy Thinking and The Power of Hope in Innovation”.  Get the answers to your “Culture of Empowerment and Culture of Innovation” questions along with Bill's unique insight on the “How” on this Industrial Talk interview!

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Welcome to the industrial talk podcast with Scott MacKenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots. And let's go.


As always, thank you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast. absolute honor. Yeah, it is an honor. Thank you very much for joining. This is where we celebrate industry heroes right here. This is their voice. We celebrate the women and men of industry, the women and men of manufacturing and all things in between. That's what we do. That's why we celebrate you because you're bold. You're brave, you dare greatly your voice has to be heard. Your story has to be told. And that's why the industrial talk podcast is, I guess the only place for you to go for all the leaders in industry. Speaking of which, Bill Schmarzo Oh, absolute tighten up data is on the industrial talk podcast. Let's get okay, right, good. As a dude, man. So what makes him so great, outside of the fact that he's got a lot of hair, I don't see the fact that he is an absolute. He thinks young. And he's got this major street cred in data analytics, all things data, big, whatever. He's, he's the Dean of big data. That's what he is. And, but he thinks young, and he recognizes that youth is really the key, the key to unlocking innovation, along with all the other things, but he's always fascinated and as well as I am, but he's fascinated with how young professionals solve problems, and leverage innovation, and develop new innovative solutions to solving problems. That's Bill Schmarzo. And we've had a great conversation now. It's all in line with what we're trying to do. So I want you to get your paper and pencil out right now, I want you to lock these dates in the second and third December. And this is with IoT solutions World Congress, fear not, it'll be out there on industrial talk, the links and everything that you need to know it's a virtual event, and not been very honored and fortunate enough to be able to run a panel. Now this panel is going to include Bill, Rob Tiffany, Stephanie Atkinson, and what we're going to be talking about is how this giant digital journey is not just transforming business and industry and people's lives here. But how is this digital journey, improving the lives of communities that might not have the resources that we do here in United States and other places within the world? How is that? How is this incredible revolution, this industry for Dotto revolution, impacting and helping them out and everything that you could possibly imagine? How do we do that? What do we do? I'm of the opinion, definitely that that this will transform lives, even in those areas? Because I think because of leaders like Bill and others, they're able to see the necessity of making technology and innovation consumable by everybody around the world. He's thrown out some really incredible cutting edge thought pieces that I just think he's brilliant. And I know that you are you'll believe the same thing. Now. Here we are. I want you again to go out to IoT solutions World Congress, that's IoT s. World Congress, I'll give you the up. And I'll give you the link the URL and put down the second and third of December, join this virtual conference here, this panel, we're going to be promoting it pretty dramatically, just because I think this is information that you as professionals need to hear. All right. You don't have to worry about Bill Maher's. Oh, because he's got a major stat card out there. And he is absolutely has a desire to just reach out. He's just, he's an amazing man. He's a great man. So go out to Bill Maher's Oh s ch Mar Xeo. You'll find them there's not many out there being a big data. Alright, let's get on with the interview. We had once again he's he's throwing down some truth bombs, specifically when it starts talking about how's this digital journey going to impact us in a positive way, not just here but in areas that can definitely benefit from technology. So enjoy. Hey, Bill, welcome to the industrial talk podcast again. Thank you very much for joining and sharing your sage advice with the listeners because this is going to be an I'm, I'm always into. I'm a big fan. I'm the I'm the president of your fan club. I am me. Just because you're that good. How are you doing?


I mean, I gotta send you a check.


Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, you do. Damn it. Yeah, yeah, you do? Yeah. Hi, how you doing?


Well, trust me. I'm doing well. Thanks. these are these are crazy times. But you know, they're maybe they're, we're gonna we're gonna get less crazy here in a few months.


Don't hold your breath. I'm not I'm not. I'm not a pessimist by any means. But I'm just saying, there's a lot of trending things happen in there that Yeah, is like different. It's just different. And by the way, listeners real quick what we're going to be doing. We've got a bit of a delay, just bear with us. We're going to work through and we're just going to power on through because what Bill has to say what we're going to be talking about is really important. I think it's important. I think it I think it's going to be a great topic to for discussion. And just bear with us. We might have a little delay here and there. All right, Bill, we've had this conversation and listeners, we you know, I've been talking about industry for Dotto, and we've been talking about data analytics, and we've been talking about IoT. And we've been talking about the cloud. And we've been talking about edge and everything all in between. We've been talking about innovation. And it's all good. Don't get me wrong. It's all good. Yes. And you need to do it. Yes, your business needs to really venture in that because you'll notice with Bill, there's nuggets, there's just real valuable nuggets in data. But the question I have, and this is where we want to begin to begin to explore is that all of this is great, but how does it help? How does it help countries in need other countries that don't have the resources that the United States and other developed country? Have? How does all of this industry for Dotto help them? That's a question you, Bill.




I'm going to take a weird little take on this here, Scott, I actually think some of these countries are in better shape than us. And and the reason why I say that is that legacy thinking is killing how we leverage some of these new analytic capabilities and new technology capabilities and new data. Legacy thinking is something I run into all the time when I talk to CIOs, and and i excuse me if this sounds too harsh, but there's a there's a caliber of CIO out there who rose to their position because they literally survived. And SAP RP implementation, they, they survived it, right? They took them five years, it took them 100 million dollars, it cost them thousands of lives and something of value that they hope squirted out at the end. So you, you have that kind of mentality. And many CIOs have this, where they have this, everything's a big bang approach, you got to build all the infrastructure first, you got to spend all this money first, before you start getting any value. And just one way to to, to validate that position is think how many hundreds of millions of dollars or organizations have spent on their operational systems to capture and store data, and how little money in reality relative that they spend on trying to monetize that data. It's so massively miscued. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars capturing and storing data, and they spend 10 20 million, you know, maybe to monetize it, it's just so you, I get long answer here, Scott. But I think some of these new knees, these other countries, they're an advantage because they they don't have to unlearn. In order to go forward. They don't have to go through that really painful process, that the human body resists the body loves the status quo, we loved to not change, right, which is why digital transformation is such a hard problem has nothing to do with technology has everything to do with people and culture. We don't want to change. So how do you get back value from this world? What if you're a country who doesn't have that legacy thinking? And you can just start off with data and analytics from an iterative sort of perspective.


Not See, I love that. I think you're spot on. And I think in and I've come in contact with that. I mean, this whole legacy thinking, I love that, that term because that's exactly this is the way we've always done it. This is the journey that I went Through, there is no way and it's and it's a road frickin block. And I love the clean slate approach. Yeah, if somebody came to me and said, Scott, we want to, we want to deploy this system, and we're gonna be, you know, pulling out this data and all that stuff. Great. I have nothing to compare it to. But let's do it. And I see it. But what about the the economics? I mean, what about some of these countries that just don't have the the hundreds of millions of dollars to be able to deploy some of these systems and to reap the benefits just because the economics are just not there?


Oh, they're there. I think, again, I think they're in better shape. They're, they're forced to have to look at doing this thing. iteratively they're forced to take a look at how do I build my my architecture? iteratively? How do I build up my data and analytics capabilities? iteratively? How do I build up my my customer engagement system, they, they need to think about this intuitively get over that big bang approach. And look at it's really an agile approach. Now, a lot of people say the word agile, but they don't mean agile, agile is really about putting in place a process where you put things out there really quickly. And in we've talked before, the economies of learning and knowledge based industries are much more powerful and economies of scale. So again, I think the fact that they don't have lots of money means they've got a focus, you got to be you got to pick the right use case that has the right value for your citizens or your customers, wherever they might be. You got to iteratively build out the use cases. I again, I think I think these these countries are in marvelous shape. You don't need to have an army of data scientists, you need to have a few. Right? And by the way, cloud architectures mean you don't have to buy a whole bunch of technology that you only only need to use on Christmas Day, right? It's It's It's so much has changed. And in God help us around all the open source tools out there. They're phenomenal, right? So the whole world of technology has has become much more agile and nimble, yet we have this legacy thinking approach about what we've always done it this way. It's like, it's like my dad. Well, I, you know, I walked in, I had to walk to school for miles every four miles one way and four miles through through blazing snows and it was uphill both ways. Right.


Yeah, but you're right, you're spot on there, Bill. Now, this is interesting, because this is a, this is an optimistic story that you're sharing with the listeners. And when we start talking about open source, I see me I believe this innovation, this what we're going through right now will be truly transformative for communities that are in need, that their their world is going to change. And it's going to change in a positive way. You've just reestablished that by saying, hey, they don't have baggage, and I have crap that they're dragging along with them. And they're just like, anything's better. Let's incrementally approach it and get the use cases correct. And say, Yep, that has values. That's a little bit more of a jump. But this one's good. Let's do it. And do it. Right. I absolutely love it. You're good. I like that a


lot. So. So then they throw another provocative thought at you. What if you could, what if your organization looked at technology as being disposable? That you you buy technology? You You suck the value out of that technology, and you throw it in the junk heap? Anytime? something better comes along? And think about what out of technology? Are the real assets that we're mining from technology? Why? You know, how I think Scott, I'm very biased, I think the assets of these technologies can go over our data. Right, right. I have customers who have see ICS systems kicking off data, right? See ICS systems have been dead dead for years. The data is still valuable, right? And the second thing is the the insights uncovered the data about your customers, your product and operations. So to me that to come along with this. nobody's saying what did you said, I'm going to take treat technologist supposable, right, because you don't know what technology is going to be around in three or four years. But we make these technology bets. And by the way I teach right, I tell my students say, Well, I want to master TensorFlow, I want to learn TensorFlow, I said, No, no, don't learn TensorFlow. Learn how to learn TensorFlow, because three years from now, who knows what will be the most profitable most dominant machine learning framework out there? Learn to learn so this idea that you have to place a career bet on a technology is dead, that's dead, right? That's, that's leeches on you to try to cure cancer. No, we don't do that anymore. And so can we get back to this the hindrance of of legacy thinking and how how that happens. IT organizations, I


love the Learn to learn. But that whole disposable technology idea, it's hard for me, I can see it because I've got disposable stuff that I just like, I don't care about it anymore. But like you said, the value is in the data. And therefore there might be tools that are better able to access or that work with the data. And, and, and disposable technology. Are we even there yet? I mean, what I mean, from industry's point of view, are we there? Holy cow, how do you take an MRP system? And say that's disposable?


Well, how do you so the question is, how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time, one at a time. So what you would do is you'd look for pieces of that, and I'm not an AARP expert at all, thank God, I never, I never bank my career on that. Right? I would expect that there are aspects GRP system that you can, you could decompose, you can modular lies. So it could be put into, you know, Docker eyes, whatever, there's all this, there's other smarter people out there than me who know how to do that, who then would try to take the when when dispose where technology becomes disposable? technology vendors no longer have you over a barrel. And so that is what things get really tricky is because the marketplace, the the economics in the marketplace, works against the user, every one of the vendors wants to lock you in architectural lock in was a strategy Heck, 2030 years ago, and it's still it's still such sits today we talk about all the hyper scalars, right, trying to lock into their cloud environment. So it's vendors have always tried to lock people in. They're not our best friends. But you know, open source has given us more options in open source that no open source had a wedge its way to the conversation, no, no vendor wanted open source and also now and now you've you've got can't speak specifically how an E RP documentation would would become, you know, more disposable. But I can certainly tell you how your data science platform, how your AI ml architecture, better be prepared for, you know, open source, like so for an ml


I love the open source stuff, I think you better there was a there was a book, Bill, and I can't remember the quote. In fact, it was it's a video and it's it talks about the economics, behind the open source movement, like I I'm, I'm familiar with open source eirp or II Yeah, it open source open em, and it's just open and it's just open. Somebody is in there just cranking away and other people they have, they have guidelines of how you go into the system and all this stuff. They have protocol, but they're doing it and they're doing it from the heart. And they're doing it with passion. And they're doing it because they think it's the best thing to do. And you get a really powerful system. And you're not,


you're not handcuffed. And it learns so quickly. Everybody's contributing, there's, there's not like a major release every 18 months, there are iterations coming out literally every week, right? There's there's you transform control to the to the users and the relations of vendors have to build then become much more, you know, as a service mentality, right? I'm providing this as a service to you and I love as a service. Man, I love that idea that that, that you're going to get paid based on how well I use your tools, right? I don't want to buy your products. I'm not not in the try. I'm trying to get something out of that your product is doing something for me and I want to pay you based on your products ability, your organization ability to do that for me. So I I think there's all kinds of turmoil happening in this space. Where this legendary this this legacy thinking disposable technology, it's all of us had been thrown up in the air open source and the economies of learning all coming to roost in this space.


It's interesting because you're talking like with enterprise systems, it's the big thing, but maybe just from a cafeteria perspective, I just want this, this one and I leave it at that and my pricing of how I use that is so important. It's like me purchasing cable, and I only go to three, three channels. That's it right and i got i got 150 channels and I go to three. I just see that that might be and talk about back to your original position is that Many of these other countries, they're just not. They're not encumbered by that thinking they are just like, yeah, let me give it to, and they're gonna be nimble, agile, going forward, just because that's the way they think that's it. That's like what it is.


Well, it's how we talk, this kind of started this conversation talks about innovation. And what what I see is that if you have less liabilities and obligations, you are more free to innovate. And what I think about innovation, I have kind of this three layer Innovation Model I think about the answer was for I guess, first off, I believe that that hope, is the mustard seed for innovation. It is that little math going on biblical on you here. Right. So the hope it all starts with hope. And I think from hope, it fuels curiosity, curiosity, for what about what could life be like? I just spent the weekend working as a mentor for women startup network,


we have


Friday, Saturday, Sunday, we had probably 72 young women brainstorming all kinds of different product ideas, deep diving, then presenting their results. Phenomenal it to me, it was it was so eye opening to watch how far these young women could take an idea in 54 hours. Now someone didn't sleep. So they took advantage all 54 hours. But it all starts with this this mustard seed of hope they think they can do something better. They see a need out there an underserved niche out there. And that's where it starts this this hope. And then they then you embrace this curiosity phase by Well, I wonder what we could do. And, and curiosity is don't need to be a rich country to be curious, right? And, but from a curiosity then comes creativity and the heart of the word creativity is the word create, at some point time, you have to create something, a mock up storyboard, whatever it might be, but you start putting it out there. And it's all based on agile, learn, try things throw something out there does this work, right? The curiosity and creativity thing works. And then at some point, you have a nugget and you've proven it. And then it moves into what I call innovation. For me. Innovation is about scaling. You if you have a great idea, if you have a very creative idea, if you built a mock up, that's very compelling. But you can't scale it, then you don't have anything. And innovation is only realized when you're able to scale this across the market. And scale, by the way doesn't just mean from a technology perspective, it has to scale for a financial perspective, gotta be able to make money at it, right? Otherwise, you're not going to stay in business. And it won't scale. Right? It's got to have value to the customers, right? So I, I love this idea that you innovation, maps very well, to where technology is going as far as becoming decomposable, reusable, smaller bits, this disposable technology idea that all plays together, because disposable technology feeds this this thing of with with curiosity, it feeds this ability to create AI ideas really quickly. And then, of course, we have all kinds of ways to scale that, you know, cloud is probably the most most the biggest example of how we can take an idea and scale it, you know, almost infinitely linearly infinite, right? It's, it's the world has changed you right before us. And I again, I watched these young women, and I realized how old I was. Because I have this old mindset. And, and there.


No, you can't do that. Well, not only can we do it, we just did it. Yeah. See, I


love that youth. I do I it's a it's a beautiful thing. And you do you realize you just I how they just think differently. They just look at things differently. And it's exciting for me to just sort of sit there on the sidelines, listen to them. Talk about Yeah, you could do it. I did. Oh my gosh, that blew my mind. And so once again, it bodes well for innovation in these areas where there's, you know, where they're not advanced. They have some capital issues, but it can be truly transformative. Didn't before I forget, when you first started the conversation about innovation, you started talking about a couple of points one was less liability. You've right I was trying to rifle it off, but you were gone and you are on to hope. What what what do they


owe less obligations and less liabilities. Ah, those are all the things that hold you back. It's like, what prevents people from doing a startup well, mortgage, you got mortgage payments, you have car payments, you You have kids in school, you got a. So these, if you're free from if you can minimize your obligations and liabilities, it allows you that kind of freedom to explore these things to chase after what hope tells you to direct after you access, one of the things that I'm going to throw at you to here, I another thing that that impressed me about this weekend, and I and I, there was the first time I see this if that I see this when I teach. And the reason why I, one of the biggest reasons why I teach is that when you can empower people, then you can see innovation, it hashtag culture of empowerment leads to hashtag culture of innovation. If you haven't empowered people, you are doomed as an organization. And I see these corporations all the time, where the person at the top has to be the smartest person. They're the ones who direction everybody else just follow along, right? And we, you've seen them, I've seen them. They're all around. And as I go through my job search process, I've got a big crosshair and those kinds of companies, I don't, I don't want to work for somebody who already knows all the answers, right? There's no more learning gonna happen here. So this, this idea of empowerment is everything. And it doesn't mean just empowering your executives. Yeah, held your executives don't know what's going on the company who knows the customers better than the people at the front line. This is why By the way, I love working with sales teams, you talk to a sales team about what's going on a customer, you know, they're not talking about, well, they're at this in the pipeline at this, they'll say, well, the customer had to do this, they're frustrated by this blah, it's like, yes, the customer, the customer, right? So So empowerment has to happen at the front lines. If it's only about empowering your executive organization, find me another friggin company. Thank




You know, you're preaching to the choir here, but you do a better job at articulating it through the through words, because I've always had that conversation. One, I never want to be the smartest guy in the room. I never, I want, I never ever want to be the smartest guy. And then to if I can create a culture, that people feel comfortable making mistakes, and empowering them to truly push their abilities. And I'm not worried about somebody coming down with a hammer, because I'm not the man with all the answers. I'm telling you, you, you, you, you truly transform that business, and you create something that really resilient and prosper in the future. I just believe that.


I gotta tell you this, this marvelous story. So one of the things in my life I've always been disappointed about is I don't have any patents. I don't have any patents, right. A lot of people feel they talk about well, how can you be the Dean of big data, this big technology, blah, blah, blah, without any patents. So this last gig I was on, I worked hard to empower my value engineering team in my data science team. And I brought onboard a lot of people who were smarter than me, I brought on people had different perspectives in me, I brought on and I created a culture where people were free to ideate challenge each other. But at the end of the day, I was the tiebreaker. Somebody has to make a decision. But yeah, I created a culture. I tried to get everybody. So I didn't have any patents. I now have my name on seven different patterns, not because of how smart I am. But because of how I brought in people who were very bright. I empowered them. I allow them to be creative and approach things. And there's now seven patents out there in process with my name on it again, not because I'm very smart, because I'm not smart. If I'm ever the smartest guy in the room, I'm going to different rooms that tells me right off the bat, I can't learn anything. I'm not that smart, right? So if you empower people, great things happen. And I was this last gig I was on. I created a phenomenal I couldn't be more proud of what that team had done. And they collaborated, we challenge each other. And I will tell you this my last point on this on weekends, you fail, I was getting email from nobody else on the weekends. Except, of course, my team because they were into what they were doing. They were late at night, early morning Saturday. What about this idea about that their ideas flowed back and forth. And that's this, I think would again this gets back to hope is the kernel is that mustard seed of innovation. If you give people hope that they can impact the business and then you empower them to do such the results are phenomenal. Yeah,


I can't say it better myself. I mean, you know, listeners out there your man this is a fantastic, absolute fantastic conversation. We can have the conversation about digital In digital journey and digital transformation, and we can have all that conversation, but I'm telling you right now, you don't have the right culture. And you don't nurture that culture where you don't empower people where you don't create that. I don't care how the tech is in I getting that far, you might make some strides, but you're not going to hit those home runs. tell you that right now.


I love this.


I'm telling you, they're built, you're not gonna know the park. I'm a new man because of you.


But one of the one of the things I like to say is, as an organization, if you don't have enough mic moments, you'll never have any breakthrough moments. So our job as leaders, is to create a culture where people can have moments that let's try this. That's curiosity is all about Mike moments, time things out. The I tell you what, this, this next generation coming up behind us, because they don't have that legacy thinking, they don't have the same obligations and liabilities that we have. they approach the problem differently. And it is, it's mind blowing, it's refreshing. And it just tells me that I need to stay young. The minute my mind turns old, put me Do me a favor, just stick me in the ground and bury me right out a spot.


I'm gonna share, I'm gonna share with you just a little story about being young, right? So we go to this event, and it's just a gathering of people where they're having some snacks and, and then the guys venture out and they're going around the fire. And I'm sort of dragging my feet to go to that guy hanging out, right? So I finally say, I got to go to the guy hang out. So I go to the guy hang out. I sit down. You know what they were talking about? Talking about cataract surgery, and I'm not going to be old. Enough. I have cataracts. I'm not talking about it. So the next day I ran out and bought some Doc Martens.


I love it. I love it.


I'm not gonna be old. Anyway. We're gonna have to wrap this up, Bill. Now, Bill, we're gonna, on this particular pack, as you'll see here, we're going to be doing a panel, we're going to be doing a panel for IoT solutions World Congress, we're going to talk about the heart of digitization. You're going to be on it along with Rob Tiffany and, and Stephanie Atkinson's. We're just going to knock it out of the park just because it's going to be fun. Can people get ahold of me on LinkedIn? I know they can


know where to find me.


You know where to find him. He's a good looking gent long flowing hair. talks a lot about data. Man. Thank you, Bill. Thanks, guy. You were absolutely wonderful. And listeners, we're going to wrap it up on the other side, because we have business to close out on the industrial talk podcast. So stay tuned.


You're listening to the industrial talk Podcast Network.


Alright, again, thank


you very much for joining the industrial talk podcast Bill shamar. As you can tell, that is and I'm sorry for the delays and everything. That's just what it's about. It is what it is, is technology. I can't go over to his house. He can't come over here. Outside back to the west coast. I'm here down in New Orleans area. Anyway, reach out to him tomorrow. You will not and I mean, you'll not be disappointed. Now, again, I want you to put this on your calendar. It is December 2 of the third. It is the digital summit 2020 brought to you by those wonderful people at IoT solutions World Congress. We're going to be doing a panel, we're going to be talking a little bit about how the digital age is helping communities around the world. Improve. That's what it's about. Okay,


we're gonna wrap it up.


Be bold, be brave, dare greatly change the world. But hang out with people like smart. So be bold, brave and daring greatly. And you're gonna have an absolute blast. Great, great guy. Remember, digital summit. We're gonna have another one right around the corner. So be safe. We'll talk to you soon.

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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