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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Derek Rodner, Vice President of Product Strategy, Agilence (Part 2)

Posted on Friday, Jan 11th 2013

Sramana Mitra: Your approach sounds unique. I hear a lot of stories about customer analytics, but you are talking about operations, and that is quite different. The best way to illustrate what happens with using your technology are use cases. Feel free to pick whichever customer you have permission to talk about and take us through use cases of how they are using your technology and how they are benefiting from it.

Derek Rodner: I can give you several basic examples and I can give you customer names, but I can’t tie them together because of the nature of what we do. Our customers don’t like us to talk about what we do for them in too much detail. But a good example is that there are the many retailers that report their store managers’ performance reporting information. Every day a store manager comes in and has an email that says: “You have these types of stats for yesterday, and it has been investigated that this number is down or this number is up.” That is the old way of doing business. What we provide, for example, is a dashboard on a PC or any mobile device that the manager has available in the morning, and the dashboard automatically highlights two or three things the manager has to look into and research. Managers can identify those topics without leaving that device, and they can even review a video of events.

Let’s say, for example, there was a transaction at the point of sale that had an inordinate number of voids in it. The manager can look at that transaction, investigate it, watch the video, synchronize with that data, and determine what happened without ever having to leave the office or look at another application. He or she can get all the information right there.

Another thing we are trying to do in the aberrations space, from a corporate level, is to understand promotions and how they are executed. Promotions can happen on a weekly basis – there is a new circular that comes out in the newspapers every week. When you have 53 circulars per year – one per week plus a special holiday one – there is a lot of opportunity for individual promotions to not be entered correctly in the point of sale system or for cashiers and customers to not understand the promotion. What you can do with our solution is quickly have a look at the dashboard Monday morning to see which stores are performing well with that promotion and which ones aren’t. Once stores are performing below average or below the state of deviation, managers can quickly reach out and try to get a better understanding of what is going on with the promotion in that particular store and fix it right away, within hours of the promotion’s being started. Therefore, managers can impact and improve the promotion in real-time, as opposed to waiting a week later and finding out that it never really ran right and thus all the money spent putting it together was wasted. Those are a few examples of what we can do with our solution. As far as customers are concerned, one of our largest customers is Rite Aid. They achieved a significant ROI [with our solutions]. In less than a year they were able to get a threefold ROI.

SM: What kind of data do you collect? You have talked about video feeds a lot. Is video the primary type of data you are collecting and analyzing?

DR: No, although we do put special emphasis on video. We collect data from point of sale systems, alarms, access control devices, electronic scales, or RFID tags. There is any number of places from where we collect what we call structure data. But what we found is that there is a real benefit in having the unstructured data, which is video, among other types. If you can marry the data of an event that happens in a store – whether it is a transaction event or an item moving from the back room onto the showroom floor – if you can tie that to video down to the millisecond, then you can very quickly verify what happened. Data tells you only a part of the story. Being able to see it gives you so much more confidence in what you are looking at.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Derek Rodner, Vice President of Product Strategy, Agilence
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