It’s All About the Platform: What Walmart and Google Have in Common

Walmart and Google are at work building their own versions of an analytics platform to help answer big business questions.

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How does data inform business processes, offerings, and engagement with customers? This research looks at trends in the use of analytics, the evolution of analytics strategy, optimal team composition, and new opportunities for data-driven innovation.
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Walmart and Google are at work building their own versions of an analytics platform to help answer big business questions.

How can we use what’s happening today to predict what we should be selling in the future?

How do we answer the essential question, “what should we really be selling?”

How do we help our customers connect with their customers and ultimately drive our revenues?

These are some of the pressing questions that two of the world’s largest organizations are tackling in the era of big data. And despite wildly different business models and customer segments, there is at least one approach Walmart and Google share: they’re both building analytics platforms to help solve business issues.

Executives from Walmart Stores Inc. and Google spoke at the IE Group’s recent Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit in Chicago.

Digvijay Lamba, distinguished architect at Walmart Labs, said that the world’s largest retailer is building its Social Genome Platform to drive unexpected insights — and close the gap between decision makers and data scientists.

“What’s happening is there are domain experts — buyers, merchandisers, product managers and others have worked in retail for years and years — these people know the market really well,” said Lamba. “They throw these ideas over the wall to data scientists, who go through the data and come up with these brilliant ideas to answer questions. But there is a wall there. The data scientists are not domain experts. “

“What we want to do is break down the walls,” he added.

To do just that, Lamba’s team is building out its Social Genome Platform. It utilizes external data — social media updates, blogs, transactions, images, media check-ins and location — to map trends across a number of variables, or nodes. Presented as charts and graphs to business users, the information helps Walmart buyers and merchandisers more effectively predict the items that will sell best, particularly in the lead up to big holiday shopping events: Halloween, Black Friday, Christmas.

“The big question we ask ourselves as retailers is: What should we really sell on Halloween [or other holidays],” said Lamba. “Now we have all this external data that is being generated. . . and we can ask all kinds of questions.

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Topics

Competing With Data & Analytics

How does data inform business processes, offerings, and engagement with customers? This research looks at trends in the use of analytics, the evolution of analytics strategy, optimal team composition, and new opportunities for data-driven innovation.
More in this series

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