Article Series

Retail data integration in the digital age

Retail data integration in the digital age (part 4)

Jul 25, 2016
   |   by 
Rick Boretsky

Working towards a hub and spoke architecture.

As we have seen in parts 1-3 of this series, most retailers who have a 20th century retail system will face many complexities when integrating with 21st century point solutions. Often point-to-point transformations struggle to keep pace in the fast online world.

The word “interoperability” didn’t really exist until the late 70s after the advent of microcomputers, PCs, distributed networks and embedded chips.  Before then, systems engineering always presumed there would be a monolithic “system” in place. However, for almost 40 years now, IT has struggled to promote harmony between independent and disparate systems. 

Ideally, a new architecture would be implemented. In this new architecture, changes to key files would be passed instantly, in near real-time, to the necessary destinations. In reality however, most retailers can’t manage the constant requests for integration while a new such architecture is being implemented.

So, what can be done?

The first line of attack is to measure and monitor the current system performance of data transformations. When a batch system must respond in real time, it is often more practical to simply run the batch system more frequently at short intervals. In this way, the team can respond urgently to error corrections, while taking precautions to avoid redundant updates.

However, this poses a problem for most retailers. The nightly update cycle is often too long, too late and too error prone. In order to allow the retail business to operate 24/7 these update cycles must be changed. To this end, wise IT departments are stepping up, recognizing the challenges and transforming their backend systems to allow for smoother integrations.

So, if you want to reconstruct your update cycle effectively, where should you begin?

Below, we’ve compiled a checklist of questions to guide your reconstruction:

At RIBA we have found that data integration is all-too-often the Achilles heel of retailers’ operations. With our clients we face the challenges of data integration in the digital age every day. We understand the complexities of the digital retail landscape and work with our clients through these solutions.

Please let us know if this series has been useful to you and how we might help bring the required talent and resources for data integration to your business.

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