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The annual Data Team Awards showcase how different data teams from across the globe are delivering solutions to some of the world's most challenging problems.

Over 200 nominations were submitted by companies from diverse industries and regions across six award categories. The competition was stiff, and the pool of nominees was narrowed down to 29 finalists. Eight winners were chosen. Their remarkable stories of data and AI innovation are worth sharing.

Congratulations to the 2024 Data Team Award winners:

Transformation Award: Virgin Australia Airlines

Virgin Australia Airlines' transition from an on-premises data warehouse to the cloud-based Databricks Data Intelligence Platform marked a substantial leap in its data strategy. The goal was to build a trusted, governed central data repository for organizational data and enable improved collaboration, real-time reporting, data-driven decision-making, and self-serve data capability for analysts and operational reporting across the organization. By integrating Databricks' Unity Catalog for seamless data governance, Virgin Australia Airlines optimized its data querying and analytics practices, which streamlined data ingestion, analytics, and data science into one cohesive platform. Virgin Australia Airlines implemented new features, like the near-real-time Baggage Reconciliation System, enhancing operational efficiencies and customer experiences. Databricks adoption facilitated a 75% increase in real-time data availability, a 44% decrease in mishandled baggage, and a 25% revenue boost attributed to insights drawn from analytics. The transformative journey, underscored by a 90% faster deployment of machine learning models and significant improvements in analytical speed-to-insight, has propelled Virgin Australia Airlines forward in the market while pursuing a culture of data-driven operational excellence.

Finalists: Banco de Crédito e Inversiones, Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller, Mojang Studios, and the U.S. DoD Chief Data and Artificial Intelligence Office, Advana Program.

Virgin Australia Airlines data team accepting the Transformation Award

Disruptor Award: J.P. Morgan Payments

J.P. Morgan Payments processes nearly $10 trillion in payments daily, operating in over 160 countries and over 120 currencies. To support processing, the J.P. Morgan Payments data and analytics team spearheaded a comprehensive project to transition from legacy, on-premises platforms to a public cloud data lakehouse architecture. This architecture transformation involved integrating 50+ systems of bank and financial records — totaling 3PB of data — into a production-ready format, accessible to over 3,000 downstream analysts. These same analysts use various analytical techniques and polyglot languages to extract valuable insights, inform clients of changes, and optimize day-to-day workflows.

Finalists: American Airlines, Capital One, National Australia Bank (NAB), and Unilever.

J.P. Morgan Payments data team posing with the Disruptor award.

Data for Good Award: Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line is a nonprofit organization providing free, 24/7, confidential text-based mental health support in English and Spanish by empowering a community of trained volunteers to meet people in their moments of need. To support over 1.3 million conversations annually and the ever-growing need for mental health support, the organization had a clear opportunity to optimize its service by leveraging Machine Learning Operations (MLOps) workflows to manage global operations more efficiently. Crisis Text Line utilizes a combination of Spark and Delta Lake for data ingestion and transformation. Not only does this help its small engineering team support multiple platform instances globally, but it also allows for tailored data pipeline architecture to address various international regulations for sensitive data treatment. Consolidating key data assets in the data lakehouse enables data scientists to focus on building models at scale rather than managing infrastructure, resulting in improved operational efficiency. From better supporting volunteers in training simulations to more effectively maintaining the clinical quality of our conversations, such technological advancements continue to advance Crisis Text Line's mission of creating technology-enabled human-to-human connections at an unprecedented scale.

Finalists: E.ON Drive Infrastructure GmbH, Flo Health, Sydney Water, and The Ocean Cleanup.

Crisis Text Line data team posing with the Data for Good award.

Data Intelligence Award: Ahold Delhaize USA

Striving for enhanced efficiency, Ahold Delhaize USA (ADUSA), a division of global food retailer Ahold Delhaize, needed to migrate from legacy systems to a more streamlined and robust solution. ADUSA adopted the Databricks Data Intelligence Platform as its enterprise data platform for analytics, machine learning and business intelligence across its U.S. locations. ADUSA supports many data-informed initiatives, including customer personalization, loyalty programs, food waste reduction, environmental initiatives, logistics, forecasting, and inventory management. ADUSA developed a self-service data platform, allowing its data engineers to build pipelines that support data science and AI/ML applications. They are now analyzing promotions and sales performance at scale across different customer segments, enabling the company to leverage real-time data to make informed business decisions. This ultimately makes it easier to support shoppers at more than 2,000 local brand stores.

Finalists: Fraport AG, Mastercard, and Providence Health.

Ahold Delhaize USA data team posing with the Data Intelligence award.

GenAI Innovation Award: Block

Block Inc., a global technology company with a focus on financial services made up of Square, Cash App, TIDAL, and TBD, faced the challenge of efficiently managing its extensive data resources to both improve services for customers and streamline internal operations. Block's primary issue was an outdated and inflexible data architecture that struggled to process vast amounts of data across applications. To pave the way for GenAI innovations, Block proactively standardized its data infrastructure using the Databricks Data Intelligence Platform. By leveraging Databricks' GenAI capabilities, new businesses can now onboard even faster to the Square platform using AI-powered set-up and data import automation. They can also leverage GenAI to instantly generate content for marketing emails, team announcements, item descriptions, website copy, and more. eCommerce sellers can choose from more than 50 style prompts and add hyperreal, AI-generated backgrounds to item photos, elevating their websites and attracting more customers. With Databricks, Block achieved a 12x reduction in computing costs, continuing to redefine financial services in the 21st century.

Finalists: Experian, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, OMV, and Workday.

Block data team posing with the GenAI Innovation award.

Data + AI Visionary Award: Fox Corporation and Heineken

Fox Corporation - Melody Hildebrandt, Chief Technology Officer

FOX, a leader in the media industry, produces and distributes news, sports, and entertainment content through its primary brands, including FOX News Media, FOX Sports, FOX Entertainment, FOX Television Stations, and Tubi Media Group. Melody Hildebrandt, CTO of Fox Corporation, is charged with strategizing how the company can leverage emergent technology to connect the entire portfolio of FOX content to audiences in the most compelling and innovative way possible. Her technical and industry leadership has recently been seen in the development and launch of Verify, an open source protocol for media companies to enforce guardrails in how their content is leveraged by AI companies and LLMs. Partnering with Databricks, Fox is at the forefront of revolutionizing media interaction, ushering in a new era of immersive digital engagement. Through the Databricks fine-tuning API, they have trained several custom LLMs with distinctive style and tone, unlocking many Gen AI applications. Moreover, FOX continues to innovate in extracting insights from video to develop novel video discovery and playback experiences.

Fox Corporation accepts Data and AI Visionary award at Data + AI Summit 2024

Michael Cagnazzi, SVP, Digital Platforms, Fox Corporation accepts the Data + AI Visionary award on behalf of Melody Hildebrandt.

HEINEKEN - Ronald Den Elzen, Chief Digital & Technology Officer

Ronald den Elzen, Chief Digital & Technology Officer, aims to make HEINEKEN the best-connected, most relevant brewer for digital-age consumers and customers. Becoming the best-connected brewer requires an end-to-end digital transformation anchored in HEINEKEN's overall business strategy. Data is essential and "connects all the dots," from consumers to customers, from employees to suppliers. By the end of 2023, HEINEKEN had implemented eB2B apps in 34 markets and launched a new eB2B brand, eazle, in nine markets. The eB2B platform connected 700,000 active customers and achieved nearly €11 billion in gross merchandise value, a 28% increase from 2022. HEINEKEN has connected over 4,500 machines in its breweries and collected 180 billion machine data points from its proprietary IoT platform. Data management, advanced analytics, and insights enablement are essential for HEINEKEN to win in today's and tomorrow's worlds. The amount of data available has moved from predominantly internal (transactional) data to much more external data, including streaming data from various IoT sources. Through its strategic collaboration with Databricks, HEINEKEN uses all this data to increase consumer understanding, serve customers, optimize marketing, and drive operational efficiency.

Heineken accepts Data and AI Visionary award at Data + AI Summit 2024

Jelle van Etten, Head of Global Data Platform, Heineken accepts the Data + AI Visionary award on behalf of Ronald Den Elzen.

Finalists: Chevron Phillips Chemical Company - Brent Railey, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, KPMG - Jodi Morton, Chief Data Officer, and Rivian Automotive - Wassym Bensaid, Chief Software Officer.

Best All-Around Award: Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller

The Auditor-Controller (AC) of Los Angeles County — tasked with managing essential data for the county's finances, personnel, payroll, budgets, and more — faced challenges due to fragmented and outdated data management solutions, hindering the efficiency and accessibility of data across its 41 departments. Recognizing this issue, the Los Angeles AC embarked on a new data and analytics initiative, by implementing Azure Databricks. This strategic choice provided a secure, scalable foundation for data ingestion, curation, and consumption, directly addressing the pain points of limited access, outdated information, and cumbersome manual processes. The integration of Databricks transformed data processes and enhanced the Los Angeles AC's data capabilities with centralized data repositories, robust visualizations for executive decision-making, and streamlined the development of analytics tools. This profound transformation brought operational efficiencies, including real-time annual statistics reporting, vendor payment reporting, as well as comprehensive budget and expense reporting that previously required extensive manual effort and time. These efforts lay the groundwork for future expansions, including more data analysis and machine learning capabilities to benefit county employees and residents.

Best All-Around: This inaugural award celebrates the data team demonstrating innovation across all six Data Team Award categories, embodying the spirit of a truly empowered data team at scale.

LA County Auditor-Controller data team accepting the Best All Around award.

Let's Raise a Glass! Congratulations to our 2024 Data Team Award winners!

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