Delivering data health to the retail industry

Delivering data health to the retail industry

Andy Smith shares how Talend is helping customers using data to make more informed decisions 

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Data is becoming one of the most valuable assets in business, with decision makers able to use it to understand the success of products and services, make informed decisions on stock and ultimately create better and more personalised customer experiences.

“Data is vital to inform critical decisions around new routes to market, systems to support business agility, and new, more resilient supply chains,” says Andy Smith, global technology alliances director at Talend. “As a result, after people, data is the most valuable asset for every single company in driving revenue, innovation, customer engagement, and reducing costs and risk.

“Data is everywhere and in everyone’s hands. Most organisations have understood the value that data can bring to transform, achieve operational efficiencies or create new business models.”

Despite this, Smith believes some things have become even more challenging for businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 forced traditional retail to accelerate their digital transformation and move online,” says Smith. “As they set out to improve their digital experience to survive, they found themselves with lots of data, without knowing what benefits to get from it or how to organise it. Unfortunately, data only has real value if it is well managed, well organised, trusted and of high quality. We help them understand the value of data and how it can inform their strategic decisions. Business needs healthy data at speed to transform the customer experience.”

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also a major consideration as environmental, social and ethical issues are increasingly becoming an integral part of business decision-making.

“In the last few years, companies have grown more concerned about their responsibility when it comes to ethics or their impact on the environment,” says Smith. “A client may want to be able to better calculate its carbon dioxide footprint, to take corrective actions on a complete chain to be able to improve its emissions. We are working to provide concrete answers to these CSR questions.”

Despite the widespread understanding of the value of data, many organisations are still struggling to fully understand the data itself. It prevents them from becoming truly data-driven. According to a recent Talend survey, 78 per cent of business leaders say they face challenges in using their data, and more than a third say they simply aren’t using it to make the majority of their decisions.

“For decades, managing and using data for analysis was focused on the mechanics of the process: collecting data, cleaning it, storing it and cataloguing it,” says Smith. “It turns out this was the wrong problem to solve. The piecemeal approach most companies have adopted doesn’t work. It’s not enough.”

Data health is Talend’s vision for a holistic system of preventative measures, effective treatments and a supportive culture to actively manage the well-being of corporate information. The system includes monitoring and reporting tools for helping organisations understand and communicate the overall reliability, risk and return of an asset that’s essential to their viability.

“Talend empowers retail customers to aggregate data from disparate sources, prepare and cleanse the data, ensure data quality throughout the data life cycle and deliver it to the lines of business to make decisions quickly. Talend makes the data work for the business user, allowing them to focus on their core responsibilities. Companies who use Microsoft Azure and Talend Data Fabric can really upgrade their customer knowledge with advanced analytics in real time. That’s the best way to drive better customer experiences.”

One such customer is Popken Fashion Group. The business uses Talend Data Services, including Talend Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and Enterprise Application Integration, to consolidate data from many sources, including databases, CSV files and text files.

“Talend doesn’t just provide benefits, it is a must have,” said Stefan Rahner, head of software development at Popken Fashion Group. “As a fashion retailer, we must sell every article of clothing possible. Talend enables us to react rapidly to changing market conditions. I think we need it in order to survive.”

Popken currently uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 via Talend’s products but intends to expand its use of the cloud by migrating applications. Talend will help the business in its long-term cloud strategy due to its ability to work with Microsoft Azure and serve on-premises systems.

Ultimately, Smith believes that solutions like those from Talend could help retailers prepare for the long-term.

“For those organisations in the retail space, using their data to design relevant customer experiences, improve their products and services is a requirement to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry. With retail being so competitive and margins thinning, there is no room for errors in decision-making. Bad data could literally put them out of business. Effectively leveraging their data gives them the ability to reduce errors, streamline processes to create efficiencies and ultimately retain higher margins.”  

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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