Big data is about more than lots of data. Here’s 4 Way to use it to make smarter decisions


with regards to big data, retailers have big data than most establishments. however, Julian Burnett, CIO at retailer House of Fraser, recognizes the quantity of information isn’t always usually matched by using a stage of insight.

“Retail is an industry that is been trading on its gut instinct for pretty a while,” he says. “Being capable of back your choices up with evidence of things that might work is crucial. I experience very confident that we are getting our facts set to enable us to correctly inform our personnel in the course of their choice-making processes.”

here, Burnett explains how he has positioned business intelligence (BI) the front and centre at house of Fraser and offers best practice guidelines to CIOs around growing a strategy, honing that capability and exploiting innovation, which includes artificial intelligence (AI).

1. Create a method for effective data intake

Burnett says his firm’s investment in BI permits decisions to be made on evidence, rather than intuition.

As part of constructing up the technology crew, Burnett — who joined residence of Fraser in October 2015 — has targeted on BI functionality and hired specialist people with huge experience. while the company was already using MicroStrategy’s BI software, it changed into not making the maximum of the technology.

Burnett says he used a test query when he arrived in the role. “how many humans consume how many reviews each day?” he says, relating to the query he posed to the rest of the business. “the answer to that question gives you an indication of just how messy matters are — and in our case, there had been about 800 active customers in the centre who were consuming about 18,000 reports each day. That felt like an awful lot of information and it probably wasn’t being consumed effectively.”


Burnett said the realization allowed him to define a significant opportunity across the creation of insight. He began a process of consolidating and enhancing data flows across the business, while also considering how the company could present its information extra satisfactorily through the data visualization tools that MicroStrategy provides.


“We just let that approach seep into the business to look what would take place,” he says. “The take in was dramatic. We accompanied the strategy with a campaign of encouragement and aid, together with webinars that people could be part of. There have been regularly two hundred or 250 people trying to recognize how they could gain access to the new varieties of statistics and what they may do with that insight once they had it.”

2. View business intelligence as a work in progress

house of Fraser continues to hone its facts method. The firm started trialing MicroStrategy 10 towards the stop of 2016. The updated model of the technology gives workers get right of entry to interactive dashboards. maximum of the implementation work changed into completed within the first zone of this year, yet Burnett says BI projects constantly stay a work in progress.
“My ambition is to dramatically reduce the number of news created,” he says. “I want to offer people a far greater dynamic platform for statistics enquiry and to feed the insatiable interest of outlets. Retail is a completely information-hungry area and, if I can offer equipment to permit interest, that could be notable.”


Burnett says the implementation of BI has already produced a number of enterprise benefits. The enormous adoption and use of visualization equipment has allowed workers across the organization to expand a much clearer insight into overall performance in key areas, which include stock availability and product returns.

The initiative additionally makes use of self-service records discovery to present users the opportunity to build interactive dashboards in as low as 20 mins. Burnett says this cognizance on empowerment gives personnel with the ability to visualize statistics quickly and to discover modern methods to enhance purchaser enjoy.

“Transformation comes via everybody within the company seeking to improve their overall performance,” he says. “So, we’ve held up some of those exemplary initiatives, in which we have gathered facts, used analytic gear, and verified upgrades may be made and consequences measured. that is certainly the strength of these tools.”

3. Use algorithms to reinforce your in-house information capability

Burnett gives the example of how the company has used BI to guide facts evaluation in a markdown optimization strategy. like several retailers, residence of Fraser attempts to avoid discounting for as long as feasible. while these reductions do take area, the purpose is to be a really apt as feasible, says Burnett, and to maximise take advantage of every sale.

“there may be a few science and creativity in the back of that method,” he says. “we’ve got recently put together a competition between an AI-based device and our buyers. We collected a very big historical dataset of charge and advertising data. We fed this pricing and discount statistics to an algorithm.”


Burnett acquired a document at the earlier than and after results of the usage of massive information to help enhance the company’s markdown method. He has supplied the records to the board and says the difference between human and AI overall performance is extensive. In a few instances, algorithms produce as tons as a 20 to 25 percentage performance increase.

“The information set is an accumulation of the beyond movements of our team of workers,” he says. “it is a take a look at in opposition to a specially small set of merchandise, however it offers employees with the information to head and enhance their overall performance. What we have is a few historical information that points to how team of workers have carried out in the beyond and which will be used to beautify movements in the future.’

even though the ability advantages are tremendous, Burnett says it’s miles crucial to recognize a series of factors — as opposed to simply fee — impact the fulfillment of a markdown approach. Human emotion nonetheless performs a key position in making the right judgment calls and, for this reason, algorithm-powered AI must not be viewed as a job killer.

“The data produced through the set of rules is an augmentation for the humans filling those roles, no longer a substitute,” says Burnett. “it’s an enhancement, in preference to a scenario they have to fear — and positioning the blessings in that manner has been beneficial.”


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