Tesco’s Clubcard creators to transform back office with Oracle cloud

Dunnhumby, the company behind Tesco’s Clubcard loyalty programme, is looking to transform its business by moving its backoffice IT systems to Oracle’s cloud-based Fusion apps.

The firm, which Tesco bought in 2011, has started implementing Oracle Sales, Marketing, ERP and HCM (human capital management) clouds, as well as Oracle Hyperion Managed Cloud Service and Oracle Business Intelligence Managed Cloud Service.

Andrew Hamilton, global head of strategic planning at dunnhumby, said: “Oracle’s suite of cloud solutions will enable us to streamline our global processes and deliver new operating models as we continue to grow.”

Dunnhumby, which has been around for 25 years, analyses data and applies insights into shopping habits of millions of shoppers around the globe to enable its retail partners to provide personalised experiences to their customers.

Hamilton said that Dunnhumby was the company that first brought Tesco the idea of the loyalty programme Clubcard, the idea of understanding customers to provide them a more tailored experience, in 1994.

Since then, the firm has grown from operating in just three countries (the US in 2002 and France in 2006) to 30 countries today. As well as Tesco in all the countries the retailer operates in, the firm’s other partners include Coca-Cola, The Kroger Co. and Macy’s in the US.

Dunnhumby had a “mix of different systems” in its back office before implementing the Oracle Fusion products, Hamilton said, declining to reveal which systems these were. He said that the company uses finance and HR Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications from a non-Oracle vendor at present.

The company does, however, use Oracle in its customer analytics side of the business, namely the Exadata database machine for data warehousing.

Big Bang

While there is the option to use Oracle Fusion products as a mixture of on-premise and cloud-based apps, the company is adopting just cloud apps because it does not have the in-house resources to manage the Oracle apps, and it wants to leave the work of managing Oracle servers and upgrading apps “to the experts”.

It is also going for a “big bang” approach because it would be easier to introduce a wholesale transformation in the back office by changing it all at once, rather than going for a phased approach.

“This is a systems, operating model, functional, teams transformation. The benefit we can see could be quite transformational for the organisation,” Hamilton said.

“We know we want to change the [business] processes, so if we go through the change, we want to do it all at once rather than do it slowly. We are trying to manage quite a complex change through one process.”

With the Oracle cloud suite, Dunnhumby expects to automate more processes and improve efficiency, which Hamilton said would result in cost savings.

“At the moment, staff have to move data on spreadsheets to different systems to generate reports,” he said, referring to back office data like employee and financial data, rather than the customer data used for producing retail insights, which is a separate part of the business.

“We are expecting to get automation and efficiency across the board, giving employees access to services where they want to, on a mobile or at a desk. For example, approving a purchase order will not be limited like we have today. At the moment you have to be at the desk,” Hamilton said.

The company also hopes to have a central, single source of back office data, all integrated through Fusion.

Dunnhumby has just finished the global design phase for the Oracle suite implementation. It hopes to go live on 2 March 2015 for 3,000 employees around the world.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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