Tony de Thomasis introduced our guest speaker for the evening, he was Group Solutions Manager from Spotlight – Greg Hill. Greg introduced himself and highlighted his background which included extensive functional ERP experience. Greg aimed to offer an insight into the history of Spotlight, the current environment it operates within and the solutions utilized.
Greg summarised an interesting history of the business. This included the evolution from beginning as a market store in the 1950’s through to its current position as a leading retailer of craft supplies, fabrics, and home decorating products not only in Australia but in New Zealand and Singapore. Greg also highlighted that Spotlight had recently further diversified by entering into the outdoor and camping goods market with its Anaconda stores.
Greg explained that Spotlight switched from customized legacy applications to SAP three years ago and had received some external post implementation support. In order to source the required talent needed to build and maintain both technical and business knowledge, Greg explained that for the last year he been involved in the recruitment of an internal IT team, which now includes up to fifty members.
We learnt that Spotlight utilize an SAP based solution, including: Sales and Distribution, Materials Management and Finance / Controlling. It was interesting to learn that an agile solution is required for the changing environment that Spotlight functions within. The environment is changeable due to high transaction volumes, large quantities of items and variable consumer demands that are dependent upon geographical area and seasonality.
Greg overviewed the agile solution employed by Spotlight which consisted of a sophisticated Point Of Sale (POS) and Back Office System. Transactional information at the store level is transmitted to various systems, these systems are then interrogated with “what if” scenarios. The results of the “what if” scenarios are then reviewed by various groups of the business, decisions are then made concerning sales and inventory related activities. Through an integrated computer system, and effective data management tools, Spotlight is able to quickly react to diverse business scenarios. The integrated system allows Spotlight to determine when stores will require particular stock, and from excellent analytical sales information, the stock that the store can actually sell.
Greg concluded by encouraging the class to continue their studies and in line with previous guest sessions he offered some tips for future job seekers. He also highlighted that the tight ERP graduate employment market may be looking more favourable for students who have undertaken some study in a related specialised area.