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Wal-Mart focuses on speed, innovation with SAP’s HANA technology


Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has a vast and complicated corporate infrastructure, but that doesn’t stop the world’s largest retailer from pursuing fast, fact-based decisions based on technology innovation. During a keynote address at the SAP SAPPHIRE conference in Orlando, Florida, Wal-Mart CIO Karenann Terrell described Wal-Mart’s approach to decisions and data.

“Any technology company not focused on speed will be disrupted from its position,” said Terrell. “Wal-Mart as a technology company and innovator will be a tale told on speed.”

Wal-Mart, which has been using SAP technology in its back office operations since 2007, now uses the SAP HANA business intelligence platform to perform tasks such as processing the company’s half a trillion transaction records.

With 250 million customers a week, 11,000 global locations, a burgeoning e-commerce channel, and 2.2 million employees, Wal-Mart uses HANA’s in-memory data processing capabilities to assemble data from different parts of the enterprise and visualize it, in real time. The retailer is also deploying the recently launched SAP S/4 HANA business suite.

“Data runs from the back office to the front office,” said Terrell. “HANA is floating on our ERP system. Innovation doesn’t rest in the back office.”

Using an agile development methodology, Wal-Mart applies HANA to obtain data and insights at a scale and speed that were previously unavailable.

“Our merchants want to know the impact of the cost of bananas in Phoenix on the business,” said Terrell. “They want to simultaneously know the response of customers in China and India. At the execution level, it’s underpinned by technology. Wal-Mart’s business craves it.”

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