The Art of Thinking Like a Data Scientist: The Movie

Author: Bill Schmarzo

The Covid19 pandemic has given me a chance to catch up on some reading. One of the books I recently finished reading is called “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller. It’s a short and very effective read (which all books should be). The premise of the book is that all sales and marketing messages should be structured like a movie, and successful movies have a standard approach for telling an engaging story (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Story Brand Common Movie Plot

The book gives several examples of the Storybrand 7 (SB7) framework compared to successful movies such as Star Wars and Hunger Games (see Figure 2).

Figure 2:  Hunger Games Movie Plot

So, it gave me an idea…what if I use the SB7 framework to create a movie script for Chief Information Officers (CIO’s) and Chief Data Officers (CDO’s) who are being challenged by senior business management to monetize the organization’s data? 

Using the SB7 framework, all these CIO’s and CDO’s need is The Guide and The Plan, and I know the perfect Guide (me) and I know the perfect Plan (“The Art of Thinking Like a Data Scientist” methodology) to help The Hero (CIO, CDO) overcome the Data Monetization Challenge. 

Let’s see how this script might play out.

The Hero. The Hero for our story is the Chief Information Officer and/or Chief Data Officer who own responsibility for the organization’s data assets.

The Challenge. These organizations have spent tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars building systems to capture data (OLTP, Enterprise Resource Management, Salesforce Automation, customer relationship management, web sites, mobile apps) and now the Internet of Things (IoT) with even more sensor data. Senior Business Management is asking “Where’s the beef?” with respect to monetizing this wealth of data and demanding that The Hero deliver against this Data Monetization Challenge. Things are ugly. The Capitol is demanding retribution and the Evil Empire wants its due!

The Guide. The Hero meets an experienced mentor – The Guide – who can help The Hero to meet senior business management’s data monetization mandate. This is Obi Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker, or Haymitch Abernathy to Katniss Everdeen. Yea, I can see myself in that role (though I need to work on growing a scraggly-assed beard).

The Guide Brings the Plan. The Guide brings with him the hands-on experience with a proven plan to help The Hero navigate the diabolical game masters and imperial storm troopers who are trying to prevent The Hero from the successful completion of their journey. In this case, The Guide brings “The Art of Thinking Like a Data Scientist” methodology, and the important mentorship and patience, to help The Hero overcome the Data Monetization Challenge.

The Plan Is Put into Action. The Hero and The Guide collaborate to lead the Value Engineering and Envisioning exercise with the key business stakeholders to put the Data Monetization plan into action. And most successful plans shine in their simplicity and propensity for pragmatic action.

That Results In…. Trusting the guidance and plan from The Guide, it’s battle time! The Hero engages the key business stakeholders to identify, value, validate and prioritize the areas of the business (The Use Cases) where data and analytics can deliver meaningful customer, business and operational value. Once the top priority Use Case is identified and confirmed, then The Hero with the assistance of The Guide delivers a Proof of Value to validation that data and analytics can be used to deliver material business and operational value.

If Successful. The Hero masters the economics of data and analytics to deliver on the data monetization mandate, delivering meaningful and differentiated Return on Investment (ROI) use case-by-use case on their way to a significant promotion (new Tesla, exotic vacations, larger home, profitable sequels).

If a Failure. The Hero is unable to deliver on the data monetization mandate and IT budgets shrink as data services are out-sourced and The Hero is forced to moonlight as an Uber driver on the weekends.

Figure 3: The New Hope: The Art of Thinking Like a Data Scientist Movie Script

The SB7 Framework provides a simple script for delivering a successful customer experience.  Plus, it was fun to think of turning my book into a movie.

I wonder who will play me in the movie?  I’m thinking Bill Murray…





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