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Home centers tackle “Big Data”

BY HBSDEALER Staff

San Diego — “Big Data,” and what to do with it, was a recurring topic at the Teradata Partners User Group Conference, held here from Oct. 2 to 5.  Retailers, insurance companies, telecom firms, banks and others looking for best practices in data warehousing and optimization were among the 3,500 attendees at the San Diego Convention Center. With so many challenges facing IT professionals –everything from geomarketing to capturing tweets inside a data warehouse — participants focused on collaboration and learning from each other’s mistakes and successes. 

In a session called Mastering Metadata Management, Kathryn DioQuino of Lowe’s explained how her team built bridges between various departments in order to implement a program that would give easy, shared access to the data warehouse. Her 12-person team, which included members from data, research and analytics, had 12 weeks to accomplish their mission. They succeeded, with some back-up from the infrastructure and network security team.  

To hear DioQuino explain it, they did the project on a shoestring. “We hated to use IT resources,” she said. Lowe’s already owned MDS software so the company only needed to pay for some Teradata services. Although the project was run by “data scientists,” as they jokingly renamed themselves, the push came from Lowe’s business side.  

The payoff, DioQuino said, is that the company now has data stored from multiple sources in one place. And Lowe’s has much more flexibility in searching and finding customer data, opening up new business intelligence opportunities.

Home Depot representatives led several sessions, including one about data warehouse management and another involving sales lost to stock-outs because there’s not enough inventory on the shelves. A number of attendees checked back in with Clay Barrineau of Home Depot, who gave a session at last year’s conference on Home Depot’s ongoing rollout of its new mobile devices. 

“Store Walk Mobility” now goes by a sexier name — “Tactical Reporting” — and all 2,000 of Home Depot’s U.S. stores have 15 to 20 of the handheld devices. Stores associates can check inventory for a particular item, or see if a neighboring store has one in stock. These are just two of the types of questions that flow into Home Depot’s data warehouse, which fields 300 to 400 distinct queries from the devices on a typical Monday.

Barrineau and his team have to make sure the system delivers a timely response without riding roughshod over the needs of every other database user. Using query banding and putting throttles in place, they have been able to keep query response time to less than five seconds while not overwhelming the system. “At the end of the day, you’re going to have to find out your individual sweet spot for the workload you want to run on your system,” Barrineau told the audience.

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Key-making kiosks catching on

BY Brae Canlen

Replacing a trained employee with a machine that can automatically duplicate keys may be part of retail’s future, according to an article in the Denver Business Journal.

MinuteKey Inc., a company headquartered in Boulder, Colo., is now deploying its automated key-copying vending machine. The three-year-old firm, which has attracted $10.6 million in private equity funding so far, has placed 100 MinuteKey machines in 15 states, mostly in big-box stores. Lowe’s and Walmart are among the retailers hosting the units.

MinuteKey machines make house and office keys and only accept payments in the form of credit and debit cards. Revenues are shared with the retailers.

CEO Randall Fagundo – who founded, and then sold, the chain of coin-operated games that grab plush toys with a metal claw — said he expects to hire another 20 software developers and other employees to keep up with company growth over the next six months. His goal is to ultimately have 20,000 MinuteKey machines throughout the United States.

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S.blumenthal says:
Oct-05-2011 07:54 pm

I believe who ever thought of
I believe who ever thought of a kiosk for making keys isn't much of a locksmith. Yes there are a number of common keys, your schlage, arrow, kwikset, segal. After that there is such a large variety of keys that even locksmiths sometimes have trouble finding the proper blank. Then there are keys that are stamped 'do not duplicate'. The most complaints I hear in the stores regarding keys not working are from consumers having keys made in the big stores because of the lack of training.

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Former Home Depot exec joins facilities firm

BY HBSDealer Staff

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, former Home Depot executive Matthew Pitts has joined SMS Assist as chief operating officer. 

At Atlanta-based Home Depot, Pitts was VP building services and had worked at the retailer for about 20 years. SMS is a facilities maintenance company based in Chicago. It serves about 24,000 locations.

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