Tuesday Oct 28, 2014

Oracle OpenWorld 2014: The Pace of Change for Retailers

At the center of change in retail are the 9 Billion devices now connected to the Internet – a number predicted to go to 50 Billion in fairly short order.  Beacons and other location devices are a disruptive force for the retail industry, and they completely change how retail experiences are built. The proliferation of mobile devices, among shoppers and store associates, opens up new ways to tell customers where inventory is, where can they get it, at what price, and it invites a whole new set of competitors.

Welcoming retail executives, partners and industry experts to the Retail Experience @ Oracle OpenWorld 2014 in San Francisco, Oracle Retail Senior Vice President and General Manager Mike Webster said that the rapid pace of change being driven by mobile and other influences will not slow anytime soon. It’s one of many reasons retailers are suddenly looking to accommodate a higher velocity of data in a variety of different formats.

“Big data is not big news in retail but we are having to solve problems around the velocity and the variety of data,” said Webster. “How do we bring in social interactions and marketing interactions together, to give you a more unified view of the entire customer engagement. We are a mobile world, with 6 billion mobile subscribers.”

In retail today, there are tons of investments across social, mobile, analytics and cloud. Seven out of ten companies don't know their current stock position. Retailers must return to the basics. The biggest item on retail balance sheet is inventory. Transparency is the key to shift inventory closer to customers to impact the bottom line and satisfy the consumer.

To help retailers succeed, Oracle “spends more on R&D than any other solution provider in the industry, and the most basic element of what we are creating is to make sure you reach customers where you need to, that you are able to hit the basics and innovate. Our focus is building the best solutions for retailers,” said Webster. During his keynote, Mike Webster took the opportunity to share the highlights built into our upcoming release coupled with the unique capabilities that MICROS adds to the footprint.

Our success is measured in terms of customer results. Oracle Retail saw great success with vanilla implementations and this trend reflects all of the work done to fine-tune retail functionality across the Oracle Retail suite of applications. With the introduction of version 14 and the work with world-class partners, we have allowed customers to focus on the business opportunity with less complexity, customization and integration from the implementation process with best practices built into the solutions.

Customers including Hot Topic, Kohl’s, Gordmans, and Zenni Optical are just a few of the retailers benefiting from recent implementations of Oracle’s robust, mature retail solutions. Customers should continue to expect us to take out complexity and take out cost, Webster added.

The Retail Experience @ OpenWorld 2014 presentations are available in the Oracle Retail virtual community. Log in to the RACK to review the presentations from the retail track.  

-  Commerce Anywhere: Retail Innovation
-  ULTA Beauty: Improving the Customer Experience with Oracle Commerce
-  Inventory Management for Commerce Anywhere with Dubai Duty Free
-  Running Oracle Retail Applications on Oracle Systems with Kohls
-  TOMS: Oracle Commerce Case Study
-  Retail Analytics: Creating Value from Insight
-  How Two Brazilian Retailers Linked Shopping Across Channels with Oracle Commerce (Part 1)
-  How Two Brazilian Retailers Linked Shopping Across Channels with Oracle Commerce (Part 2)
-  Retail Trends: An Oracle Perspective

Tuesday Oct 04, 2011

OpenWorld 2011, Retail Perspective Part 1

The big announcements at OpenWorld this year revolved around engineered systems, where software and hardware are optimized to work together.  Larry Ellison kicked off the conference by explaining that Oracle's engineered systems use a "parallel everywhere" approach to squeezing greater performance out of commodity parts. 

Below are six such systems and my thoughts on their applicability to retail:

1. Exadata

There are several retail customers that are running Exadata with great results.  When lots of data is involved, be it analytical or transactional, Exadata increases database performance, reduces storage and electricity costs, and simplifies through server consolidation.  Exadata is perfect for running merchandising, supply chain, and data warehouse/BI applications.

2. Exalogic

Exadata's brother is Exalogic, the middleware machine.  It shares much of the Exadata architecture but instead of focusing on data, its focused on fast application execution.  It does particularly well with Java-based applications like ATG Web Commerce.

3. SPARC SuperCluster

While Exadata specializes in database workloads and Exalogic specializes in middleware workloads, the SPARC SuperCluster is a general-purchase system that handle both well.  Think of the SuperCluster as Exadata and Exalogic merged together in single lower-cost rack running the new SPARC T4 and Solaris 11.  This might be the best solution for mid-tier retailers that can't invest in Exadata and Exalogic separately.

4. Exalytics

When dealing with data, memory is faster than flash which is faster than disk.  Exadata uses a cost-effective approach by using all three types of storage to maximize performance.  Exalytics, on the other hand, is simply focused on speed and therefore memory. It's a specialized BI Machine that uses the TimesTen in-memory database to render very fast analytics "at the speed of thought."  Essbase is also a database option.  This is where real-time analytics and visualization shine.  Retailers running Hyperion and/or OBIEE will benefit from Exalytics.

5. Big Data Appliance

With Twitter generating a billion tweets per week, we are being overwhelmed with data, and more specifically unstructured data.  To help deal with this deluge of data, the Oracle Big Data Appliance includes the necessary hardware and software to acquire, manage, and analyze huge volumes of data.  It includes open-source versions of Hadoop and R, popular choices for big data problems.  Retailers that are serious about collecting social data about their brands, products, and customers will benefit from this solution.

6. Database Appliance

At the low-end, if your database needs don't require Exadata or Exalytics, then the Oracle Database Appliance is the perfect combination of hardware and database in a simple, cost-effective package.  This data center simplification play will likely resonate with smaller mid-tier retailers.

Part 2 will discuss cloud computing.

Thursday Sep 15, 2011

Upcoming Conferences

I bet many of you are just back from the Shop.org Summit today.  I saw some pretty good sessions on the agenda, so I'm sorry I didn't go.  In two weeks ARTS is having its third annual user conference in Orlando.  Topics include mobile, social, cloud, and the use of standards in the retail industry.  I really enjoy this conference because it doesn't involve selling, and its light on marketing fluff.  The attendees come from IT and are only interested in solving real problems.  I'll be presenting on the use of social media in retail, previewing some of the content from our upcoming ARTS Social Blueprint.

The week after is Oracle OpenWorld, starting on October 2nd.  I'll be kicking that conference off with a run at the Bridge-to-Bridge 12K in the morning, then catching the start of the conference later in the afternoon.  Larry Ellison is always entertaining, so I don't want to miss his general sessions.  There will be several new products announced during the week, many of which have applicability to retail.

This year the entertainment is Sting and Tom Petty.  Neither does much for me, so this is the first year I'll be skipping the customer appreciation event. Regardless, if you get an invitation you should definitely attend.  The spectacle of so many people, free food and drinks, and the carnival games is a great experience.  I promise you'll have tons of fun.

As has been the case in past years, the retail sessions will be held in The Palace Hotel a few blocks from the Moscone.  I actually like this arrangement as its much more intimate so people are able to relax and talk.  Ever try finding a place to sit and talk in the Moscone?

There are lots of good retail sessions, so I'll just name a few here:

Monday

11:00-12:00

23821 - General Session: Retail
Mike Webster, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Oracle

Palace Hotel Concert

Monday

12:30-13:30

 38841 - Powering Business Transformation at Morrisons to Build the
Supermarket of Tomorrow
Mike Davies, Senior Vice-President, Wipro Technologies
Gary Barr, CIO, Wm Morrisons Supermarkets

Palace Hotel Concert

Monday

15:30-16:30

23445 – The Next Generation of Cross-Channel Customer Experience
Solutions
Andrea Morgan-Vandome, Vice President, Retail Strategy and Solution
Marketing, Oracle

Palace Hotel Concert

Monday

17:00-18:00

23816 – Exploring New Technology in Retail
David Dorf, Senior Director of Technology Strategy, Oracle
Leif Larsen, Vice President, Oracle

Palace Hotel Concert

Tuesday

13:15-14:15

23806 – Retail Analytics and Critical KPIs
John Bible, Senior Director of Insight Analytics, Oracle
Mark Lawrence, Senior Principal Product Manager, Oracle

Palace Hotel Pacific Heights

Wednesday

16:45-17:45

23818 – Oracle Order Management: How Starbucks' Solution Surpassed Expectations
Karen Metro, Vice President of Business Systems Development, Starbucks
Tanya Trejo, Director of Business Systems Development, Starbucks

Palace Hotel Concert

Thursday

12:00-13:00

07442— Improving Market Insight at Outback Steakhouse
Jim Marzoppi , Vice President of Applications, OSI Restaurant Partners
Sal Seno , Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Carla Daniels , Senior Manager, Oracle

Moscone South Room 310

Shameless plug: I haven't started building my OOW presentation yet, but I'm pretty sure its going to revolve around the research we've been doing with mobile and social (surprise!).  The guys from ATG are going to join me and demonstrate some of their omni-channel concepts.  I just hope we can get good networking so the iPad and iPhone stuff works.  Lord knows the AT&T network will be useless.

Hope to see you at one or both of these events.

About


David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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