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Oracle Releases First Of Five Retail Analytics Applications

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With today’s launch of Retail Merchandising Analytics, Oracle has begun the process of adding five different Retail Analytics applications to its Business Intelligence (BI) offerings. Customer Marketing and Planning are scheduled for the next two releases, and two others are in the design stage, according to David Dorf, Senior Director of Technology Strategy, Oracle Retail.

Each of the Retail Analytics applications will leverage Oracle’s existing Business Intelligence (BI) platform, allowing the application to access and analyze data from multiple applications across the enterprise, such as financial, workforce management and customer relationship management (CRM).

“It is a very exciting development, particularly since Forrester’s research shows that the process driving merchandising decisions in many retailers is based on spreadsheets, and is desperately in need of an analytics boost,” said George Lawrie, Vice President and Principal Analyst with Forrester Research.

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Following a two-year development cycle, Retail Merchandising is designed to address specific retail-focused KPIs such as item sales, store performance, efficacy of promotions and markdown, inventory turn, sales and profit trends, and out-of-stocks. Application development included input from a number of retail customers who serve on Oracle’s advisory board.

Retail advisors responded particularly well to the application’s “as is, as was” feature, which enables retail organizations to compare their previous reporting hierarchies to the current set-up, Dorf noted.

The solution also uses Oracles Common Enterprise Information Model (CEIM) — a collection of KPIs and metrics ― that help to create consistent tools and semantics across all applications. “We too often see retailers who have different BI tools and get different answers to the same questions,” noted Dorf. By standardizing the information across the application architecture, CEIM solves that problem.

Accessible To Both Oracle And Non-Oracle Users
The Oracle Retail Analytics applications can run on Exadata — Oracle’s database appliance – but the solutions also can run on third-party hardware. “One of the most interesting aspects of this Oracle announcement is that non-Oracle users can also benefit,” noted Lawrie. “This will be attractive to retailers who are reluctant to rip and replace and need to benefit from applying the power of analytics to their legacy transaction applications.”

Oracle users have reported that they routinely receive results and reports 10 times faster using Exadata, noted Dorf. Exadata is a complete hardware stack that uses Oracle’s in-memory analytics designed to improve application performance and results.

Closed-Loop Analytics Facilitate Quicker Responses
By embedding exceptions and specified actions in the analytics solutions, Retail Analytics allow retail users to trigger a real-time response to reports and insights from the application dashboard. This “closed-loop” analytics process delivers a pre-determined response to particular exceptions, explained Dorf, to take immediate action to kick off a promotion, cancel an order, re-allocate merchandise and more.

Social And Other External Data Integration Planned For Future Releases
For future releases, Oracle plans to add access to external data, including information from companies such as Dunn and Bradstreet or Nielsen, as well as social media information. Dorf noted: “We want to pull that information into the retail analytics so retailers can report on factual feedback as well as the buzz out on the Internet.”

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