Follower of fashion

Al Tayer Group has extended its One World implementation to its fashion division and armed its users with business intelligence tools.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  December 31, 2003

Al Tayer Group has rolled JD Edwards’ OneWorld enterprise resource planning (ERP) application out to its fashion division. The solution, which has become PeopleSoft EnterpriseOne since the JD Edwards/PeopleSoft merger, will not only automate the division’s back office activities and drive internal efficiencies, but also bring it into line with the organisation’s other companies, which have been using the software for some time. “We are into the last of Al Tayer’s companies and we have extended the use of OneWorld beyond retail and into fashion,” confirms Evan Powell, group IT director, Al Tayer Group. “Fashion has been the big one and it still is. Every time we think we are finished we open a new store, which means it has to be rolled out there,” he adds. In addition to deploying OneWorld, Al Tayer has armed its fashion companies, which cover everything from jewellery through to shoes and lingerie, with ProClarity’s business intelligence (BI) application. Chains such as Jimmy Choo, Janet Regar and Ghadeer have been given the tool to help them analyse customer data so they can better identify clients and ensure the stores are carrying and promoting the products and brands customers really want. The data analysed with ProClarity is both historic information — for those chains that have it — and detail garnered by sales staff on the shop floor and entered into Al Tayer’s smart point of sale (POS) solution. It is then sliced, diced and crunched by users at the group’s head office to generate the appropriate promotions and reports. “They [the fashion outlets] need customer analysis rather than product and inventory analysis. It helps identify the brands, so promotions can be run more effectively. A lot of their business is very personal and it requires very targeted marketing, which is why we need a BI tool,” says Powell. The roll out of ProClarity to Al Tayer’s fashion houses builds on its use within the organisation’s retail arm. Areej has used it for over a year and recently modified its use of the BI tool. In the past, it was used for simple promotion generation, in the same way Al Tayer’s fashion division has started using it. Now, the cosmetics and perfume chain is using BI for more business-focused tasks. “We are expanding the breadth of BI in terms of analysis and reporting. We are extending it to business activity monitoring,” says Powell. The maturing of Al Tayer’s cosmetics business has inspired this usage shift. During its rapid growth, the development of promotions and marketing was key, but now the company is entering a period of consolidation and has to focus of streamlining activities and wringing maximum value from purchasing, logistics and inventory. “The focus now is on inventory optimisation because they [Areej] have gone through a growth phase and now they are going through consolidation where they want to optimise inventory, get the processes running smoothly and so on as they prepare for the next growth phase,” confirms Powell. “It also gives then the information [they require] to negotiate with suppliers. It allows Areej to negotiate with the numbers in front of them. It now allows them to optimise buying and plan marketing campaigns more effectively,” he explains. Al Tayer opted for ProClarity over MicroStrategy, JD Edwards’ preferred BI partner at the time, due to its fit with the organisation’s requirements. Ensuring the software was fully integrated with its OneWorld application was relatively easy, according to Powell. “It was just a case of understanding the table structures in ProClarity and once we did that it was a case of replicating the data to the cube. For our needs, MicroStrategy was just too much — it is appropriate for other environments but not for us,” he says. The UAE firm was also impressed with ProClarity’s ability to link with Excel, which the 50% of users not armed with the BI software use to generate standardised summary reports. “ProClarity is brilliant for the analysis and it has a live link into Excel. Actually, we have found that Excel is good though and the half of our users that do not use ProClarity are using Excel for summarised, quick reports,” says Powell. The use of BI tools by so many of Al Tayer’s business users is indicative of a technology shift that is currently happening within Al Tayer. In terms of BI, rather than generating reports for the business users, the technology team has devolved responsibility by giving users the tools they need to create and access the information they require. “It [BI] has changed the user model. We write the cubes for them and they query it through a transform and replicate cycle. In fact, we are seeing user logs where they [the business users] are asking us to add dimensions to cubes, which means they actually understand it,” says Powell. “Not having to design reports anymore has reduced the workload on IT tremendously,” he adds. This level of user understanding has come about through dedicated BI training, which was carried out locally after Al Tayer’s inhouse expert had been brought up to speed on both the usage and technology behind ProClarity. However, rather than settling for this initial education, the group is looking to retrain its end users once again to enhance the use of the package yet further. “Although we did the initial training we now have to revisit that, not necessarily to use the tool better but to open their minds as, typically, users get focused on the things they are used to analysing and don’t look outside that,” says Powell. “We will be going through the training to add new thinking,” he adds. During 2004, Al Tayer will build on its extended OneWorld and ProClarity implementations with a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Although the company has yet to decide which package it will opt for, it has already recruited CRM-specific personnel and started researching the market. “For the coming year we have appointed a CRM manager and we are developing a CRM strategy. We have built our infrastructure and applications and we have the data. We also have the processes in place to ensure we have clean data. You need the platform and the understanding, which is why it is now the right time to move towards CRM,” says Powell.

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