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Interview with Russ Hill on SAP Retail Analytics at NRF 2013

We are excited to be a Chairman Sponsor at the upcoming NRF 2013: Retail’s BIG Show.  A major concern of retailers is the need to have immediate access to accurate information.  I was able to sit down with Russ Hill, Senior Director Retail, Consumer Products, Wholesale Dist. Industry Marketing at SAP BusinessObjects Division, to discuss how SAP  analytics solutions can enable retailers to run better. Here’s what Russ had to say:


The National Retail Federation is January 13-16, 2013. It is a great opportunity to uncover the fundamental components necessary to address the requirements many organizations and companies aspire to find. The real questions are: Have the impediments to execution been identified? What areas within the organization require realignment to collapse the trading life cycle? How can alignment be addressed to get closer to the end consumer and understand demand by channel? What operational areas require structural change to become more efficient? The questions can be daunting and change is inherently a difficult obstacle to overcome.

Historically, the following three impediments have been identified as the most influential organizational traits to achieving an executable plan:

Information is not readily available across organizational boundaries- Horizontally and Vertically

Sharing of information, let alone defining requirements have always been an issue.  Management has always dismissed the mounting anecdotal evidence of poor cross-department information flow as another department’s problem.

• Critical information about the competitive environment is not timely for headquarters

The diagnostic data that is necessary is fundamentally the substance of life to the retail organization. Accurate data and information for responding quickly to competitors’ moves, customers’ needs, and changes in the broader marketplace is the differentiator for enhancing, improving and out distancing the competition.  As more important information is heavily filtered as it moves up the hierarchy for rendering key decisions, it is pivotal for lower-level managers to understand and have access to key performance indicators that are aligned across the enterprise.

Inability to communicate and understand decisions and actions

The general lack of information flow extended to decision rights, managers lack understanding where their authority end and another’s began. Accountability for day-to-day decisions become unclear, and department managers lack visibility into deviations from plan for taking action.

The real work of remedying issues relating to information sharing and actionable decisions requires assessing informal networks to understand how associates are making key decisions, obtained information, and identify critical gaps. The outcome should be a prioritization of initiatives to enable change to the enterprise for a new framework for making important decisions that clearly specifies who owns, who must provide input, who is ultimately accountable for the results, and how results are defined.

SAP once again has a large presence at NRF’s Big Show.  We will be showcasing End-to-End Technology, which, when aligned to the strategic plan, is the enabler to differentiate with in the marketplace.

It’s all about the data!

For more information about SAP Retail at NRF 2013, click here.

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