The cloud as the perfect data manager
BY SHAMANTH SHANKAR
As retailers grow, efficiently managing data across their application landscape becomes increasingly central. Business users and information technology (IT) leaders therefore require data management solutions which provide insights to them and relevant information to their customers along their purchasing lifecycle. For this reason, accommodating scale, speed and different data types requires data management solutions to systematically evolve.
But how are enterprises coping with scale and flexibility? Enterprise software solutions are going through a revolution to accommodate scale and flexibility. Looking at the growth of AWS and Azure, one can imagine how aggressively enterprises are embracing the cloud. AWS grew 54.9% year-on-year and Microsoft’s Azure has had triple-digit growth over the past five quarters. The cloud topic is growing at the rate of 22 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), four times the rate of software spending growth. Flexibility in operating models (operational expense vs. capital expense), ease of implementation and cost savings lure business leaders towards the cloud. In order to strike a balance with the legacy on premise solutions and a cloud-based business friendly application, enterprises will pursue a hybrid cloud model.
What does the cloud offer retailers specifically? Compared to other verticals, retail has a lower barrier to adopting cloud-based solutions and, as such, they are expected to grow five-fold in the sector. In addition, other data bolsters this continued accelerated growth of cloud-based solutions, i.e. digital commerce platforms are growing at 15 percent CAGR driven by SaaS revenues. Furthermore, non-store retailers reported 12 percent year-on-year growth, according to the US Department of Commerce. Hence, retailers invest in various hybrid cloud-based solutions throughout their enterprise, to provide their consumers with personalised attention, constant engagement and better experiences. The central focus of this application landscape is to provide both their customers as well as their business users with a better user experience along with consistent data, in particular when it comes to product data.
So where does product information management solution come in? Synchronising product data across applications and channels for enterprises is critical and generates improved efficiency, faster new product introduction and higher sales. A product information management solution provides a single source of truth, high content quality, global product taxonomies, aggregation and syndication with internal and external sources. PIM solutions improve sales by providing the right product for the right customer at the right time. This increases efficiencies by accelerating new product introduction, reducing supply chain costs and identifying bottlenecks through better reporting. By connecting with data pools, vendor data, marketplaces, e-commerce platforms and digital asset management solutions, PIM solutions connect to the entire application ecosystem and keep all the business users on the same page with trusted product data. The foundation of this trusted product data drives an enterprise towards data-driven and outcome-based operations. In such an ecosystem, data models are defined, product data is mapped to marketplace structures, outcomes are measured and changes are accommodated on a periodic basis.
So, what do business leaders expect from product information management? As retailers grow organically or through acquisition, data models need to be changed, infrastructure needs to be expanded and global variations need to be consolidated into one solution. In addition to strategic topline growth, changing consumer choices, interactions and sentiments force business transformations. Business leaders and IT leaders therefore want to gain insights from PIM solutions and ensure they are providing relevant information to their customers. They are expecting PIM solutions to help them solve first assortment and product intelligence to find out if they have the relevant assortment and products for the respective consumer segments and also to learn about consumer’s sentiments. Furthermore, there is the so-called channel and operational intelligence that deals with the performance of products on various channels and the impact and cost of product data quality on the supply chain. Lastly, there is competitive intelligence that watches whether the competition is different by merchandising category, and how the merchandise is performing compared to the competition. Business users and IT users are seeking to accommodate this outside-in looking information into their application ecosystem.
In this way, IT teams are finding it challenging to correlate external data to the data management practices internally. They are looking towards technologies that can provide weighted focus on the right segment of products resulting in either running out of money or exorbitant costs of data management, making it unsustainable. Merchandising teams curating product content have limited or non-existent abilities to map or correlate product content to customer segments, competitors, or sentiment via social channels. Customer service teams are trying to analyse and draw insights from customer and market segment analysis and marry them with category specific context.
So, what will the next-generation solution be? To accommodate this master and related data, the current data management solutions need to evolve to handle volume, velocity and variety. These solutions will have to be based on hybrid technology, a framework involving SQL, NoSQL and Graph and comprise both structured and unstructured data. To provide higher return on investment and lower total cost of ownership to the retailers, such solutions will need to be able to scale in or out with a pay-as-you-go model. Considering now that enterprises will have to continue supporting on-premise, private-cloud and public-cloud models, PIM solutions have to provide all these capabilities both on premise and on the cloud. Next-generation data management solutions will bring global business complexities under one solution that is web-scaled, dynamically configurable and offers the best user experience.
Riversand is an innovative leader in master data management and is leading the next-generation web scale MDM solution offering using big data, NoSQL technologies, functions such as dynamic governance, adaptive workflows, comprehensive user experience and more. Riversand provides a uniform, integrated, scalable, and robust MDM platform that caters to a variety of uses across multiple verticals from small to very large enterprises.
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This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q2 2017. Picture credit Getty Images/Christina Reichl Photography