“The way customers are shopping has changed and continues to evolve,” said Sam Copeland, Vice President of Merchandising Operations for Office Depot, in a recent interview with DATAVERSITY®. To meet this new challenge, he said, “We need to have nimble systems, processes, and perfect data quality.” Since the implementation of Stibo Systems’ STEP solution for Master Data Management (MDM), Office Depot’s successes include a 60% reduction in new product time-to-market, and improved efficiency because data only needs to be input once, regardless of the source, said Norbert Donders, Office Depot’s former Manager of Product Data Management.
“Office Depot is a company that thrives by providing the best solutions for clients’ constantly changing workplaces,” Donders said, yet in 2009, they were struggling with inconsistent and time-consuming recording of product details, an inability to deliver requested product information to customers on a consistent basis, and a longer than desired time-to-market for new products.
With a desire to respond to increased customer demand for a more comprehensive, multi-channel shopping experience, the company realized that they were unprepared to efficiently manage data coming from internal sources as well as third-party suppliers. “The departments responsible for our publications and merchandising were spending too long categorizing products,” which delayed time-to-market, said Donders. “While we should have been focusing on selling products, sometimes it seemed like we were only processing data.”
The decision to improve customer experience included a desire to respond to evolving customer needs in the future as well as meeting current demands, said Copeland. “Traditional sales channels are blurring. Customers may start the shopping journey through web or mobile, but the transaction may happen online or at retail through a dedicated sales associate. The fulfillment of those products may happen in a direct-to-consumer model, in a store at the POS or via ship-from-store or with a third party,” he said.
In order to reach omnichannel customers, Office Depot needed consistent, trusted data, and systems and processes that were nimble enough to adjust quickly to changing demands. A Master Data Management (MDM) solution was identified as a priority, so that data input and categorization could be streamlined.
Finding a Solution
Office Depot needed a responsive solution that could standardize the data for a complex web of hundreds of suppliers offering millions of products. This level of complexity demands centralized master data, Copeland said. “Stibo Systems’ STEP platform was selected as the best solution set to facilitate our future state needs. The data quality engine, ability to be nimble,” and a user interface that is easy for suppliers and internal associates to use was considered of critical importance.
STEP is a Master Data Management (MDM) platform that “integrates multiple disparate systems by streamlining the process of aggregating and consolidating information around an organization’s products, customers, suppliers, employees, assets, location and reference data from multiple sources and formats,” he said. “STEP connects information sources to derive actionable insights, and publishes it to backend systems as well as online and offline channels.” This is particularly important because today’s consumers increasingly expect a consistent experience whether shopping in a store or on a website, or browsing via mobile device, he said.
According to a May, 2017 press release from Stibo Systems, they are “the global leader in multidomain Master Data Management (MDM) solutions.” The company provides “cross-channel consistency by linking product and customer data, suppliers, and other organizational assets,” enabling businesses to “make more effective decisions, improve sales and build shareholder value.” A privately held subsidiary of the Stibo A/S group, which was originally founded in 1794, Stibo Systems’ corporate headquarters is located in Aarhus, Denmark.
In an article by Stibo Systems entitled “Success Story/OfficeDepot,” Donders said that the initial implementation went well enough that the team wanted to expand the scope to include more data. “With our old way of working, this would have given rise to a lot more work,” said Donders, “but now we’ve set up a structure and tools, we only need to set up the product data once.”
Office Depot is now using data brokers as a way of centralizing and standardizing product data. “There are pros and cons to this as the data becomes available to our competitors, so of course you lose some control,” he said, “but it allows us to deliver the right data to our customers. Moreover, the broker arranges the data, so we only need to concern ourselves with publishing it online. It’s also good for our suppliers as they only have to supply the data to a single party, not to dozens of resellers.”
Efficiency and accuracy have improved significantly, he said. “By implementing a content management system that’s fed with data from MDM, we’re able to develop our online catalogue thirty to forty percent faster.”
The online customer experience has improved as all data is now standardized across all channels. “Using master data has also improved our online search functions, meaning that our customers can now find products more easily with fewer searches being abandoned prematurely. As our websites are now fed with MDM, rather than manually, we’ve also managed to reduce the number of errors,” Donders said.
Copeland shared some of what Office Depot learned from the process. “We are very early on in our journey, but all team members involved have had a seat at the table and have been encouraged to be very vocal,” he said. “We continue to have candid conversations to ensure that we are designing the best solution.”
He also noted that an ongoing evaluation of the systems that provide, manage, and govern their data is a key part of success going forward. “Implementing a new technology is only one piece of the puzzle. A significant portion of the work from this project is undergoing a robust process redesign effort.
We are looking hard at the processes, roles and responsibilities to ensure that we are bringing best-in-class influenced processes, which the MDM technology will enable,” he said. “This also means looking at the organization and identifying gaps from best-in-class. For example, we recognize that we need more robust Data Governance to ensure that we aren’t making short-term decisions with negative long-term impacts.”
“Given the early stage of the project, next steps include further socialization of the project internally and externally with our suppliers, refinement of the plan and continued execution on the foundational aspects of the project,” said Copeland.
Triniti Master Data Management Overview
Leading edge components that bring data quality to the fore
If you are a user of Oracle E-Business Suite and are continuing to have problems with your master data, then it probably goes back to the time when you first implemented it. It is not an uncommon problem. Most systems integrators did not pay too much attention to data quality. However, you are now left holding the bag. You are the one that is dealing with the consequences of poor data quality in your day to day operations. It is not too late. Read about our story to understand why you can still fix the problem. It would help you appreciate why an MDM program will NOT cost you an arm and a leg and it will help you build a business case much easier than to justify a seven-figure investment. It will also help you appreciate that if your waiting for the Cloud to magically solve all problems, then it is not going to happen. If you solve the problem now, it will also help you move to the cloud.
Our story started in 1995 when we were tasked with implementing Oracle ERP at Lucent Microelectronics ( AT&T Microelectronics then) in Allentown, PA. We were required to integrate all their internal factories, foundries and Sub Contractors into a single instance to be the single source of truth for the entire company.
While Oracle has the deep capability for business processes and inter department integration, it is easily susceptible to bad data. That would destroy the objective of the entire ERP implementation. Good data is at the heart of timely, reliable, accurate, and complete information and is the bedrock of data-oriented decision making. Good Master data, is a prerequisite for good data. To generate good master data, the following attributes are mandatory.
- Easy User Interface
- Real time error checking to enforce policies and constraints
- Approvals to ensure stakeholders signoff
- No Latency between the time the data is created and its consumption in downstream transactions
- No gaps between data in the ERP and data in the MDM.
To meet these objectives, we built a custom solution for them and it was for the product domain. Subsequently, when we implemented the same ERP for Sony Semiconductor in Japan, we decided to build a framework that could handle multiple business entities such as Product, Customer, Supplier, GL account, Cost Center, Location, People etc.,
Since Sony Semiconductor went live, many other customers have used Triniti’s MDM to create and maintain high quality master data. They include Qualcomm, Power Integrations, DSPG and Peregrine Semiconductor.
With Triniti’s MDM you can achieve the benefits of zero latency enterprise to make faster, and reliable decision making. Armed with error-free transactions in your ERP,CRM, etc, you will be able to avoid pitfalls of not meeting program expectations.
By using Triniti’s MDM you can achieve the following functionality:
- Model your master data for applications other than Oracle and SFDC as well
- Model additional complex hierarchies that represent your master data
- Set your own policies and constraints, other than that are required by Oracle and SFDC which are already builtin
- Validate foreign keys with member applications directly without replicating in the MDM
- Do data quality checks
- Integrate with other applications in real time using industry standard protocols
- Enforce authorship
- Execute survivorship in member applications
- Define required workflows and approvals
- Get data quality metrics
- Configure 360-degree views of your domains
Since we have solved the problem, you can leverage our experience and our tools. The integration is 100% reusable and is robust. The backbone is a framework and not a custom solution. It has continued to evolve as technology has evolved, that is illustrated by our ability to integrate with SFDC and demonstrate that we can quickly adapt to the Cloud. This is what enables you to acquire industrial strength MDM capabilities at a very affordable price from us. We also save you considerable time during implementation by reading YOUR configuration and not just configuration based on the VISION database. If you do not solve the problem now, then not only will you continue to bear the consequences of poor data quality, but you will either carry it to the cloud, or will impede your move to the cloud. On the other hand if you do it now, then your move to the cloud will be clean. You would stilll have to worry about MDM being a part of cloud, but if you go with us, we will ensure that we are integrated to your cloud platform as well.
Triniti MDM provides out-of-the-box support for Oracle E-Business suite and SFDC for Product, Customer, Supplier, and GL Chart of accounts structure including GL Account and Cost Center. Check back! We will update our content as we release more domains.To make your job easier, we also provide the following tools:
- An ROI Calculator.
- A Vendor evaluation form.