Written by James Walker
Sales Lead - Retail
How Appsbroker is Helping a Major UK Retailer Embrace Data-Driven Insights on Google Cloud
In today’s highly competitive retail sector, knowing your customer is more important than ever. A major UK retailer is on a journey to migrate and amalgamate data silos in the Cloud and use data-driven insights to get closer to customers online and in-store.
Appsbroker has been working collaboratively with the retailer to modernise its data landscape, creating one centralised data platform that will drive efficiency improvements, long-term growth and competitive advantage in the fast-changing retail landscape.
This major UK retailer set out on a programme of change that included technology improvements and a major investment in its data strategy to make the business run more effectively and efficiently.
Like most organisations, the retailer has a mass of data siloed across the business from years of incremental technology developments. As part of its new data strategy to support long-term growth and success, the decision was made to build a Modern Data Platform to bring together these data silos and create a single view of the customer.
The retailer needed a secure and scalable platform to support the business in understanding its customers better and to enable it to adapt with agility to rapidly changing shopping habits as the organisation shifts to a digital-first business.
A Google Cloud strategy was decided on and the customer embarked on a complex data migration to its new platform hosted on Google Cloud, moving business intelligence, analytics and the four on-premise data warehouses to the Cloud. A phased and streamlined approach to migration will result in the first data warehouse being decommissioned in 2021, achieving cost savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds every year.
The new data platform will enable the entire organisation to work much more closely together, in-store and online. The retailer’s Head of Data and Business Intelligence explains how the organisation will be able to do much more with its data:
“It’s very exciting bringing our data together into a single cloud platform. It enables us to significantly speed up getting value from our data. Richer insights and an enhanced single view of the customer across our brands will allow us to tailor our proposition even more, and even in real-time as customers browse our websites.”
“COVID-19 has contributed to significant growth in online sales and a shift to over 60% of sales now taking place online. It’s not only accelerated our drive to digital, it’s created an even greater focus for us on having a digital first data strategy. Where other activities have paused, our investment in our data strategy has continued at pace with everybody recognising the value of having accessible data across the business,” he added.
Retail trade is very seasonal and this demand volatility impacts the IT infrastructure of the business. The flexibility to be able to scale up to meet the seasonal demand for Black Friday, Christmas and Easter and scale down again in the steadier periods of trading while paying only for increased capacity when it is needed was also an important factor in the overall decision to move to the Cloud. Another influencing factor was the fact that moving to the Cloud would make it possible for the business to share data with its supplier base in a more effective way.
Success at this UK retailer is all about offering the best products and customer service on the high street and online. By investing in Google Cloud and developing resilient customer data and analytics foundations, the business will be able to build deeper relationships with its customers and deliver a more personalised customer experience with tailored promotions and curated products and services.
Migrating to Google Cloud in preference of other providers was an easy choice. The retailer already had a longstanding strategic relationship with Google and was reassured by Google’s increased penetration in the retail sector and its strong cultural fit. Appsbroker is one of the largest Google Cloud-only Managed Service Providers in EMEA, highly skilled in helping leading corporates modernise their application development, data analytics and infrastructure.
“Appsbroker has been a great strategic partner for our Google Cloud migration because of their expertise, thought leadership and experience in other sectors in addition to retail. We had previously worked with the team and felt they had a real desire to help us do the right thing to deliver our data strategy. Their values around shared ownership and accountability were a great fit with our culture and it was a real benefit to have an onshore team working with us with great agility every step of the journey”.
Integral to the project has been enabling analysts and data scientists to work together in a single, shared environment in the Cloud rather than on individual desktops in silos. Collaborative working in real-time and faster access to data using tools such as Python has enabled batch data processing tasks that would have previously taken 21 days to be completed in just two days and streamed data to be instantly accessible.
Key to the success of the project has been a test and learn approach for proof of concepts. The customer and Appsbroker team have created environments where they learn quickly, fail fast and do something quickly to change.
Given existing perceptions that data in the cloud is less secure, investing time on the data security strategy upfront and setting up and configuring security settings from the outset has helped with the creation of strong foundations and to gain confidence among stakeholders. Appsbroker provided counsel and advice at every step and decision, challenging the retailer from out of sight while bringing key learnings to the table from industries such as financial services which lead the way in security.
“Appsbroker’s experience enabled us to accelerate and scale very quickly into the cloud. It’s been a real partnership approach with the team integrated in our culture and working collaboratively with us, sharing skills and accountability for the project. We would never have achieved such success so quickly without this level of partnership and trust”.
BECOMING A DATA-DRIVEN ORGANISATION
The retailer and Appsbroker focused firmly on designing and building the Modern Data Platform and migrating data to the Cloud in 2020. 2021 will be the year the business really starts to extract value from the data and have the ability to make data-driven decisions on products and services that could create new opportunities and directions for the business.
“Moving to the Cloud is a pivotal milestone in our journey to becoming an agile data-driven organisation with the capability to leapfrog younger technologically savvy e-tailers that lack the scale of enterprise that sits behind our long successful history in retail. Our Modern Data Platform makes data available to everybody in the business who needs it to do their job more effectively, helping us to secure long-term growth and success in an industry that continues to see unprecedented change”.
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