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IT Innovation

Delivering on the Omnichannel Vision


2015 Oracle Excellence Awards
CIO of the Year | Japan
Yasuhiro Suzuki, Seven & i Holdings

Leadership at retail holding company Seven & i leans on Oracle engineered systems.

By David A. Kelly

March/April 2016

o26CIO-Japan-Suzuki

When a retail company includes 150 separate businesses, there’s not only an incredible opportunity to connect with different types of customers. It’s also an incredible challenge to connect those businesses on one technology platform.

Providing enjoyable service to customers is critical.”
–Yasuhiro Suzuki, CIO, Seven & i Holdings

Leaders at Tokyo, Japan–based Seven & i Holdings recognized that business opportunity and technology challenge with the company’s new Oracle-based omnichannel solution, Omni7, which connects Seven & i’s diverse range of physical stores with its online stores to give customers a broader and richer shopping experience. On the Omni7 website, customers can shop from any of the Seven & i companies—including 7-Eleven, The Loft, Denny’s, Sogo, and Seibu—with just a single member ID. Seven & i Holdings is a big company, with total sales of ¥10 trillion (US$83 billion) and approximately 56,000 stores—including convenience store area licensees—in 17 countries and regions. The Omni7 project was a big initiative, involving 13 IT vendors and 7 companies from Seven & i. The common infrastructure depends on Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic engineered systems. In addition, the company uses Oracle Coherence to process large amounts of traffic and Oracle RightNow solutions to service customers.

“We needed powerful infrastructure technology to quickly process enormous amounts of traffic,” says Yasuhiro Suzuki, CIO of Seven & i Holdings and winner of the Oracle Excellence Award for CIO of the Year—Japan. Suzuki has led the Omni7 project since the start, defining the omnichannel vision and organizing seven working groups to turn that vision into IT reality. “That’s why we selected Oracle engineered systems and Oracle Coherence,” he says.

 
Partnership Starts at the Top

Seven & i Holdings leadership knew that success of the company’s omnichannel initiative would require more than first-rate technology. It would require a strong, long-term relationship with its technology vendor. That’s why a meeting with Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison was critical to Seven & i’s decision to commit to an Oracle-based infrastructure.

“Without an underlying spirit and shared sense of values, a true partnership can’t be established,” says Seven & i CIO Yasuhiro Suzuki. “When Mr. Ellison conveyed his strong determination to us to continue to develop solutions from a customer perspective, we knew we could work together.”

Customers can now buy goods on the Omni7 website and receive them at one of the more than 18,000 Japanese 7-Eleven convenience stores, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number of visitors to the company’s stores has increased, and the program is attracting younger consumers, an important consideration for any retailer.

The Oracle-based infrastructure is also keeping up with the highly variable demands of a retail environment. “Providing enjoyable service to customers is critical,” Suzuki says. “It was a big investment, but choosing Oracle solutions was the right choice for us.”

 
To the Cloud

Suzuki is leading Seven & i toward a hybrid cloud model for Omni7 in three levels: a private cloud for individual businesses, a group cloud built on Oracle Exadata and Oracle Exalogic as a common infrastructure, and a public cloud.

“Probably the most important role I have as CIO is to educate and to change our mindset in order to transition the organization to a hybrid cloud model,” Suzuki says. “By expressing our future vision via a hybrid cloud model, we will be able to unite our group companies.”

Suzuki, who has been involved in building business systems since 1999, notes that best practices have shifted over time.

“An infrastructure that combines products from multiple vendors simply takes too much time and manpower to design, verify, and tune,” he says. “I think we were able to ‘buy time’ by implementing Oracle engineered systems, which integrate hardware and the databases and have the optimal configuration built in. Especially with a retail system, we need to think of customers first. It is absolutely unacceptable to inconvenience customers when it comes to responsiveness, reliability, and security.”

Adds Suzuki: “A CIO needs to have good business sense while continuing to advocate for innovative change. I regard the ‘I’ in CIO as short for innovation and continue to drive further growth and development in the years to come.”

Next Steps

 LEARN more about Oracle Excellence Awards.

 

Photography by Christopher Jue/Getty Images and Luana Azevedo/Unsplash