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Warehouse Group does more with data

Sathya Mithra Ashok | April 2, 2014
The Warehouse Group needs no introduction. As one of NZ's largest retailers, Warehouse Group deals with a wide range of products from clothing, entertainment, technology and music to sporting, gardening, grocery and many others, across multiple brands, since 1982.

The Warehouse Group needs no introduction. As one of NZ's largest retailers, Warehouse Group deals with a wide range of products from clothing, entertainment, technology and music to sporting, gardening, grocery and many others, across multiple brands, since 1982.

As group business intelligence (BI) manager, Kevin Rowland knows the responsibility he carries on his shoulders and takes it seriously.

"My role is to work with the business to make sure that we are supporting them according to their priorities. Am an unusual beast in that I am not an IT person. I am a professional retailer. I have been in the retail industry for more than 36 years. I have spent around 17 years in IT and BI I still consider myself foremost as a retailer.

"What that means is I understand what is going on with the business, understand how retail works. I spend a lot of time in business meetings, as opposed to IT meetings. That way I can understand what the priorities of the business are. And then understand what I can do to support them better," says Rowland.

The 100-strong IS team works like a centralised provision office offering technology services for the internal customers, which includes most businesses within the group.

"Most of us are covering multiple brands these days because group has changed so much since what it was less than two years ago. Then it was the Warehouse and W Stationery, whereas now we are full retail group," says Rowland.

As befits a leading retail group, the organisation has strong infrastructure investments with production, mostly lying with Unisys, and focuses strongly on disaster recovery provisions, which is part of the internal audit requirements.

"The BI team is responsible for the data warehouses and reporting for The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery and Noel Leeming. Within my team, for The Warehouse we are running MicroStrategy on Teradata, Warehouse Stationery we are running Qlikview over primarily Orace, and Noel Leeming we are running Business Objects over SQL server database," says Rowland.

According to Rowland, the different solutions are a legacy of the group.

"Initially, The Warehouse and Warehouse Stationery ran quite separately. it was only really when Mark Powell became group CEO at the beginning of 2011 that we really started to work far more closely together. By that time decisions had been made separately between the red team and blue team within IS as to who was doing what and who was using what. Then obviously we brought in Noel Leeming only about a year ago and again they already had a structure in place," says Rowland.

The IS and BI teams are still working through what is going to happen in terms of consolidation, but one way or the other, Rowland sees Qlikview as a part of it.

 

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