By Karen He
Now more than ever, organizations need to move beyond innovation to grow their business, stay competitive, and remain relevant. And it’s a combination of data and analytics that provides businesses the right insights to help them move in the right direction and beyond innovation. Amazon and Walmart have done just that. Their competitiveness and relentless business tactics to become leaders in the extremely competitive retail world have set them apart from many. A shared tactic, acquiring smaller competitors in their space, is something both companies have done well, and data is at the core.
In late 2016, Walmart strengthened its e-commerce strategy by acquiring Jet.com. It continued into 2017 by acquiring five other online retailers, including Moosejaw, ModCloth, Bonobos, Shoebuy.com, and Hayneedle.com.
Amazon, on the other hand, and just this year, expanded its brick-and-mortar expansion strategy with its first physical store in New York City to its pending purchase of Whole Foods.
Acquisitions are easier said than done. The teams behind most retail conglomerates like Walmart or Amazon do not buy companies by merely following their instincts. Instead, they rely heavily on data from multiple sources to develop a business strategy to grow their business. In acquisitions, data would show retail leaders whether an acquisition is strategically feasible for the business.
The data behind the decision
Nowadays, the amount of data available to organizations is both a blessing and a curse. Businesses are surrounded by deep pockets of their own data, residing in different cloud-based and on-premises applications and databases. For the most part, this volume of enterprise data is extremely hard to retrieve without technical assistance. As a result, businesses continuously face the challenge of spending an immense amount of time and effort simply rounding up and compiling data.
Subsequently, retail leaders gather and analyze data to make an informed decision on whether to purchase another company or not. But most retailers are not in the position to make such decisions because that insightful and illusive data resides in multiple places. They pivot from one tool to another, sifting through thousands of data sets before even getting into the analysis. These cumbersome, manual processes prevent retailers from gaining real-time insights, potentially preventing them from taking on first-mover initiatives and leapfrog its competitors. Until now.
Companies that can pull data and derive insights in real-time are empowered to transform and grow their business. Retailers need to pull data on-demand to be able to visualize complete insights to make a sound business decision. In Walmart and Amazon‘s cases, they tapped into extensive data sources to understand whether they would gain more value by growing organically or by dropping millions of dollars to acquire established companies. Of course, we know what they’ve acquired, but not necessarily what they didn’t acquire or why.
Beyond all the pre-acquisition data and number crunching, both Amazon and Walmart are aware of the many M&A processes needed post-acquisition. Once a company acquires another company, the parent company must realign the business by consolidating virtually all the departments, operations, and processes between both companies. In Amazon and Walmart’s case, consolidating business operations and supply chains involve complex data migrations. For conglomerates like Amazon and Walmart to have a seamless flow of information, subsidiaries need to migrate their data from all their systems and applications into their parent company.
Without realignment, business users across functions can become unproductive due to the lack of data or inefficient manual labor to connect data files from disparate systems and applications. A marketing department alone may have at least a half a dozen marketing applications, including CRM, marketing campaign automation, web analytics, marketing intelligence, predictive analytics, content management and social media management systems. Gaps in marketing reports and insights, for example, emerge when marketers use duplicate data from different marketing applications, and result in potentially lower business performance. To fold in existing operations and processes, companies need a smarter way to connect systems together or migrate data from one system to another.
Amazon and Walmart are proof points of how companies must innovate and grow in the competitive retail market. Businesses across industries should also look into their data to unearth growth opportunities. Complete, real-time data and analytics empower business professionals to expand their business and stay competitive in the market.
Learn more about connecting systems and applications to fuel rich data and analytics in this recorded webcast.
Karen He is Product Marketing Manager at SnapLogic. Follow her on Twitter @KarenHeee.