RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Data Integration Key to 'Fashion Intelligence' for Major Fashion Retailer

For a company the size of Grupo Cortefiel, and in the retail industry, business intelligence is a required tool to drive the business. However, it was difficult for Grupo Cortefiel to apply a standard model to their business.

Commentary by Julio Garcia Florez, Director of Information Technologies, and José Francisco Calero, Development Manager, Grupo Cortefiel

Grupo Cortefiel

A major retail fashion company in Europe, Grupo Cortefiel assumes a leading position in the fashion retail market in six major European countries, with stores and factories in a total of 29 countries. With more than 1,000 stores, Grupo Cortefiel employs more than 8,500 people and generates approximately 1 billion euros in annual sales.

The Challenge

For a company the size of Grupo Cortefiel, and in the retail industry, business intelligence is a required tool to drive the business. However, it was difficult for Grupo Cortefiel to apply a standard model to their business. As Julio Garcia Florez, the director of information technologies for Grupo Cortefiel, explains: “Models used by the banking or telecommunications industries could not apply to our business. We had to invent a new concept, driving all aspects of our business, from sales to logistics to customer loyalty programs. We call this model Fashion Intelligence.”

Once the concept was defined, the next challenge was technical: Identify an architecture that would support not only the sheer complexity of the Fashion Intelligence model, but also, and perhaps more important, the massive amount of data involved—over three terabytes.

Architectural Benefits

As José Francisco Calero, development manager at Grupo Cortefiel, explains, “The biggest technical challenge was to identify an ETL tool that would scale well enough to load on our Teradata platform. The fact that Sunopsis first loads the data on Teradata and then executes the transformations in bulk mode, leveraging the power of the Teradata engine, appeared clearly as a tremendous advantage.”

Indeed, traditional ETL platforms, with their proprietary engines, cannot take advantage of database engines. Conversely, Sunopsis uses an E-L-T approach, which generates native SQL for each database engine involved in the process—both sources and targets. When used to load Teradata (or any other RDBMS), Sunopsis takes full advantage of the power of the database engine and achieves an unmatched performance/cost ratio.

We had to invent anew concept, drivingall aspects of our business, from sales tologistics to customer loyalty programs. Wecall this model FashionIntelligence.
—Julio Garcia Florez, Director ofInformation Technologies, Grupo Cortefiel

Another factor that drove Grupo Cortefiel to choose Sunopsis is its built-in message-oriented middleware—Sunopsis MQ. “In the second phase of our Fashion Intelligence project, we envision a need for certain data to be loaded in real time to the data warehouse,” explains Calero. “Sunopsis MQ gives us this flexibility, without us having to redesign our data flows.” Indeed, Sunopsis is the only data integration vendor to combine a message-oriented middleware with powerful data transformation features and changed data capture on sources.

Standardize on a Single Solution

Currently, the first phase of the Fashion Intelligence project is in production—including the sales, logistics, planning, distribution, and buying systems. Other modules are due to follow shortly. Data is extracted from production applications running on IBM AS/400 (iSeries) and AIX servers, running DB2/400 and DB2 UDB, respectively, as well as Windows systems running Microsoft SQL Server. Sunopsis connects natively to all these heterogeneous systems, as well as the Teradata data warehouse.

In parallel to the Fashion Intelligence project, Grupo Cortefiel operates Hyperion financial planning applications in their finance department. “Sunopsis also provides connectivity to Hyperion Essbase, which is a very interesting proposition for Grupo Cortefiel,” explains Florez. “It means that we can standardize around one single data integration solution for the entire group, and that Sunopsis will even increase its already high return on investment.”

Another benefit of Sunopsis is its impressive project reporting and documentation capabilities. “Sunopsis is a fantastic tool to document data integration projects,” explains Calero. “Our user teams use the Sunopsis Web-based metadata access to understand the lineage of data, how transformations are defined, and so on. And with always-increasing regulatory requirements such as Basel II and Sarbanes-Oxley, Sunopsis gives us the peace of mind that our financial data is completely traceable.

“The ease of use of Sunopsis, its extensive capabilities—which go well beyond ETL—and broad connectivity have made Sunopsis our choice for all data integration processes at Grupo Cortefiel,” concludes Florez.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .

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