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  • February 14, 2014

dunnhumby Accelerates Complex Segmentation Queries from Weeks to Minutes—Gains Competitive Advantage

Charlie Berger
Sr. Dir. Product Management, Machine Learning, AI and Cognitive Analytics

See original story on http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/customers/customersearch/dunnhumby-1-exadata-ss-2137635.html

dunnhumby Accelerates Complex Segmentation Queries from Weeks to Minutes—Gains Competitive Advantage

dunnhumby is the world’s leading customer-science company. It analyzes customer data and applies insights from more than 400 million customers across the globe to create better customer experiences and build loyalty. With its unique analytical capabilities, dunnhumby helps retailers better serve customers, create a competitive advantage, and enjoy sustained growth.


A word from dunnhumby Ltd.

  • “Oracle Exadata Database Machine is helping us to transform our business and improve our competitive edge. We can now complete queries that took weeks in just minutes—driving new product offerings, more competitive bids, and more accurate analyses based on 100% of data instead of just a sampling.” – Chris Wones, Director of Data Solutions, dunnhumby USA

  • Expand breadth of services to maintain a competitive advantage in the customer-science industry
  • Provide clients, including major retail organizations in the United Kingdom and North America, with expanded historical and real-time insight into customer behavior, buying tendencies, and response to promotional campaigns and product offerings
  • Ensure competitive pricing for the company’s customer-analysis services while delivering added value to a growing client base
  • Analyze growing volumes of data rapidly and comprehensively
  • Ensure the security of sensitive information, including protected personal information to reduce risk and support compliance
  • Protect against data loss and reduce the backup and recovery window, as data is crucial to the competitive advantage and success of the business
  • Optimize IT investment and performance across the technology-intensive business
  • Reduce licensing and maintenance costs of previous analytical and data warehouse software


  • Deployed Oracle Exadata Database Machine and accelerated queries that previously took two-to-three weeks to just minutes, enabling the company to bid on more complex, custom analyses and gain a competitive advantage
  • Achieved 4x to 30x more data compression using Hybrid Columnar Compression and Oracle Advanced Compression across sets—reducing storage requirements, increasing analysis and backup performance, and optimizing IT investment
  • Consolidated data marts securely with data warehouse schemas in Oracle Exadata, enabling extremely faster presummarizations of large volumes of data
  • Accelerated analytic capabilities to near real time using Oracle Advanced Analytics and third-party tools, enabling analysis of unstructured big data from emerging sources, like smart phones
  • Accelerated segmentation and customer-loyalty analysis from one week to just four hours—enabling the company to deliver more timely information as well as finer-grained analysis
  • Improved analysts’ productivity and focus as they can now run queries and complete analysis without having to wait hours or days for a query to process
  • Generated more accurate business insights and marketing recommendations with the ability to analyze 100% of data—including years of historical data—instead of just a small sample
  • Improved accuracy of marketing recommendations by analyzing larger sample sizes and predicting the market’s reception to new product ideas and strategies
  • Improved secure processing and management of 60 TB of data, growing at a rate of 500 million customer records a week, including information from clients’ customer loyalty programs 
  • Ensured data security and compliance with requirements for safeguarding protected personal information and reduced risk with Oracle Advanced Security, Oracle Directory Services Plus, and Oracle Enterprise Single Sign-On Suite Plus
  • Gained high-performance identity virtualization, storage, and synchronization services that meet the needs of the company’s high-volume environment
  • Ensured performance scalability even with concurrent queries with Oracle Exadata, which demonstrated higher throughput than competing solutions under such conditions
  • Deployed integrated backup and recovery using Oracle’s Sun ZFS Backup Appliance—to support high performance and continuous availability and act as a staging area for both inbound and outbound extract, transform, and load processes

Why Oracle

dunnhumby considered Teradata, IBM Netezza, and other solutions, and selected Oracle Exadata for its ability to sustain high performance and throughput even during concurrent queries. “We needed to see how the system performed when scaled to multiple concurrent queries, and Oracle Exadata’s throughput was much higher than competitive offerings,” said Chris Wones, director of data solutions, dunnhumby, USA.

Implementation Process

dunnhumby began its Oracle Exadata implementation in September 2012 and went live in April 2013. It has installed four Oracle Exadata machine units in the United States and four in the United Kingdom. The company is using three of the four machines in each country as production environments and one machine in each country for development and testing. dunnhumby runs an active-active environment across its Oracle Exadata clusters to ensure high availability.

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