The Data Chief | Episode 51

CarMax AVP of Technology, Data & Analytics, Abhi Bhatt on Using Third Party Data to Build Better Customer Experiences

Abhi Bhatt

AVP, Technology, Data & Analytics


Current EpisodeEP51: CarMax AVP of Technology, Data & Analytics, Abhi Bhatt on Using Third Party Data to Build Better Customer Experiences

Episode Overview

How do you make innovation truly come alive at your organization? For Abhi Bhatt, the  AVP, Technology, Data & Analytics at CarMax, innovation is about taking risks, seizing opportunities, and challenging yourself to get a little better each day. Abhi also describes his approach to upskilling teammates across the business, the role of third-party data in delivering better customer experiences, and how culture is helping companies win the war on talent.

Key Moments:

  • 08:44 What does Abhi note as different from consulting to the end customer side? 
  • 13:00 How did Abhi end up working at CarMax? 
  • 15:21 How is data being used at CarMax? 
  • 17:18 How can companies make the most of their internal data? 
  • 19:06 How is the cloud helpful to make good use of data?
  • 23:41 How do you train up relevant parties concerning new technology?
  • 27:56 How does Abhi find talent?
  • 33:50 What lessons did Abhi learn from different companies while being a consultant?
  • 37:07 How does Abhi keep up with so much innovation?

Key Takeaways:

  • How important is third-party data to delivering better customer experiences? (15:28)

    “When I think about data…what CarMax or any company can do is not just think about internal data in your own ecosystem, but also third-party external data, and how can I can merge both of them and make things better.” - Abhi Bhatt

    When it comes to levergaing data to deliver better customer experiences, your internal data is just the start. Abhi cites third-party data like weather patterns and traffic routes as being key to minimizing downtown, maximizing impact, and staying ahead of the competition. He also adds that getting access to third-party data and

  • How do you motivate team members to learn new skills and keep up with the latest technology innovations? (24:12)

    “As you get into newer technologies or inthe cloud, there might be some skills gaps within the existing team members…from a change management perspective if folks are motivated to badge for their skills I think that’s a great idea.” - Ahbi Bhatt

    According to Abhi, internal badging programs can be a very powerful tool for upskilling talent. They provide a sense of encouragement, accomplishment, and help every individual feel as though they are part of the digital transformation journey.

  • How are companies like CarMax using culture to compete for top talent? (30:13)

    “I would say that one of the things that excites me at CarMax is the culture…being inclusive, collaborative, as well as giving folks autonomy and truly putting the people first.” - Abhi Bhatt

    Company culture is becoming more important to candidates considering a move in the era of the great resignation or “great reshuffle.” Abhi encourages people to double click on culture when evaluating any new opportunity.

Key Quotes:

“A lot of companies focus on innovation, but are you willing to take the chance or a calculated risk to change something in your existing models?”

“Just because you were in consulting, that doesn't mean that this is a certain duration of you do things and you forget and you move on and you forget about that. I think if you do it right, you should always be thinking about not just for the impact you’re going to have, but for your clients or for the people that you are doing the work [for]. Even in industry today, you're going to leave a mark.”

“So, I walked away with a really good experience as an end customer from CarMax. And eventually, CarMax, in 2021, somebody reached out and said, ‘Hey, we are looking. We have an opening for this data leader in CarMax from a technology perspective.’”

“You want to capitalize the most of your internal data. And that comes with making sure you have the right mindset from a data perspective on that data is an asset, right? And you want to invest in it for the right set of technology or the platforms that can make at data available and easily accessible to your end users or your analysts. And then that goes into the people-aspect of ‘let's make sure that there are folks who understand the value of data and can crunch that data or analyze that data in the right way.’”

“Every individual, as part of this journey, tthis change or transformation, is going grow and that's one motivation to say, ‘not only I'm growing internally, but I am recognized and I have a badge to prove it.’ I'm gonna extend that analogy to say, ‘if you went to college and you got you degree, there is a sense of accomplishment. You got something that you can showcase and say, not ‘only I went to college, but here's my degree and here's my certification.’”

“One is going to be within your own team… As you get into newer technologies or in the cloud, there might be some skill gaps within the existing team members… And then second is then your consumers or the users of your data.”



A highly strategic, results-oriented and people-first leader with experience in working with big data, cloud, data, and analytics solutions/technologies. Expertise in defining and leading cutting edge transformation programs for cloud data platforms, IoT data solutions, data science & analytics, and building high-performing teams. Recognized thought leader, who advises startups, financial investors/venture capitalist firms on key trends and gaps in technology to build next-generation innovative solutions. Active public speaker at data and analytics events/conferences such as AWS reinvent, and other CDO forums.”

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