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Retail Cloud – Reinventing for Sustainability in the Digital Era

The pandemic accelerated modern retail growth. The advent of online, curbside, and home delivery channels was a pivot point for both large and small firms. Consumers seek in-person connection through applications and tailored experiences that retailers provide in-store today. This article at ComputerWeekly by Clare McDonald shares Asda CIO Carl Dawson’s interview on the company’s transition to the retail cloud. Dawson discusses how the business is reinventing its retail cloud environment in the wake of Walmart’s IT handover.

Retail Cloud – On the Path of Digital Transformation

In 2020, the UK’s Asda supermarket business was sold to the Issa Brothers and TDR Capital for more than £6 billion, ending its 21-year-old tenure as a part of Walmart. As it transitions from the US retailer, Asda must replace a significant amount of technology spread across its 650 supermarkets, 29 distribution centers, and online reach over the next two years.

Dawson moved to Asda specifically to oversee the transition to the retail cloud as it moved from Walmart to its new owners.

Workday is Asda’s people management software, allowing employee management consolidation on a single platform. Rise for SAP S/4 Hana on Microsoft Azure is the retailer’s core enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, along with SAP Business Technology Platform and SAP Ariba for procurement. Additionally, the company has plans to use Microsoft Office 365 and Blue Yonder for order management. This system not only allows employees to book off time but also monitors business processes and highlights areas for improvement.

Retail Operations with Cloud-Based Systems

According to Dawson, even with all new cloud-based systems, the transfer will take time since some aspects of the business will be more dangerous to switch over than others.

Dawson has experience working in numerous major corporations and claims that having more than 100 systems of various sizes within an organization, the size and age of Asda are not unusual and contributes to complexity. According to him, transitioning legacy systems to contemporary technology is both crucial and challenging. However, he reckons the importance of building a retail cloud environment.

According to Dawson, the goal for the company is to consolidate data across all its data warehouses, systems, and visualization tools into a single “data lake.” The company’s new cloud-based systems can then access this data once it is implemented in the Azure data stack.

Furthermore, Dawson elaborates on the tech talent crunch and how they overcome this challenge.

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