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Wolverine adopts hybrid cloud enterprise approach

Employees at Wolverine Worldwide are using more data to drive their decisions.

Wolverine Worldwide is transforming its management of data and operations.

The Michigan-based vertical footwear apparel retailer, which sells more than 70 million pairs of shoes and pieces of apparel annually to consumers around the globe, is adopting the Microsoft Azure Arc multi-cloud and on-premises management platform.

Azure Arc allows data and apps to be securely shared among on-premises hardware, a cloud, or multiple clouds (multi-cloud). As a result, Wolverine will create a hybrid cloud enterprise environment.

As part of this architectural upgrade, Wolverine Worldwide plans to increase customer personalization and engagement across its portfolio of brands, which includes Wolverine, Keds, Sweaty Betty, and Merrell. The company also intends to ensure more stock availability and faster shipping, along with other enhancements.

With help from Azure Arc, Wolverine brands seek to more quickly test and deploy business solutions, while decision-makers and developers gain access to expanded and accelerated data analysis. In time, the company aims to offer product-specific insights and individual recommendations as buyers consider goods, enabling better-informed buying decisions tailored to individual tastes.

Concurrently, Wolverine Worldwide also is transitioning to the cloud-based RISE with SAP ERP platform, running on Azure and the Microsoft cloud. The company will have access to a portfolio of SAP cloud-based services, solutions and tools through a single license.

As part of the company’s digital push, it will also invest in technology to bolster the supply chain, modernize workforce practices, and enable Wolverine Worldwide and its individual brands to scale production up or down based on seasonal or market demands.

Efforts to modernize workforce practices include ensuring that employees can continue to securely share files, communicate and collaborate in the cloud, particularly while working remotely. For example, utilizing Azure Arc, Wolverine has helped employees to start using data to drive their decisions, moving from hindsight to foresight with AI and machine learning.

These efforts are part of a larger tech transformation Wolverine is beginning under CEO and president Brendan Hoffman, who assumed his role in January 2022.

“Think about one of our customers. Let’s call him ‘James.’ What do we know about James today?” said Dee Slater, CIO officer and senior VP at Wolverine Worldwide. “We run our CRM platform, so we know what James bought from us and if he’s returned any items. But that’s about all we know.

“In the future, as we build a data lake and a customer data platform, we’ll apply some AI over that data, and we’ll know that James really likes the color blue,” Slater said. “And we’ll know James is a hiker. So eventually, when James comes to our website or enters our stores, we’re going to present him with blue hiking shoes.”

Wolverine has been working to enable decision-makers with enterprise data for some time. In 2020, the company began integrating First Insight’s Voice of the Customer predictive analytics solution across its portfolio in an effort to obtain near-real-time customer insight to aid product development, assortment, pricing and marketing.

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