Lengthen the life of your legacy applications and transform transactions into information

Retailers need to analyse their transactions in order to provide intelligence that will enable them to improve merchandising, allocation, promotions, pricing and customer service. But in a tough economy, is the only route to a better understanding of their business a 'rip and replace' strategy for their legacy systems? 'Is there another approach to use tools that enable the broadest and deepest possible insight using existing platforms'? asks Andrew Blatherwick, President Manthan Systems Europe.
Legacy systems are often perceived to be outdated, and many believe that they should be completely replaced with a more modern alternative. However, it's these very same legacy systems that are the providers of data that drive Business Intelligence (BI), which offers a whole host of benefits. Firstly, replacing a legacy system with a more contemporary product might seem appealing, but it can prove highly expensive, time consuming and risky, making this option simply not viable for many retailers especially in the current economic climate. Additionally, the overhaul procedure can often be a very lengthy process, in some cases not being fully implemented for up to two years and who knows where your business will be by then; a stark contrast to Manthan's ability to deploy within 80 to 100 days.
Many retailers are now looking to 'sweat their assets' to get more from their existing systems. Manthan, which only operates in the retail sector - is implementing its comprehensive and easy-to-implement business intelligence solutions to a number of retailers, assisting organisations both large and small to turn their data into real and useful information. Crucially, BI makes such a big difference to retailers' bottom lines, which highlights just how vital it is in order to survive and thrive in the highly competitive retail space along with the current downturn in our economy.
Andrew Blatherwick takes up the story: "Legacy systems were built to do a job and very likely they are still doing that job perfectly well. After all, transactions within retail have not really changed that much and most legacy systems were built for transaction processing. So if legacy systems are still managing the transactions, what is the problem? A retailer can surround them with best of breed focussed solutions to manage the rest of the business. However, one area that is crucial is getting information out of the legacy environment. Legacy applications were never built for presenting useful information to management, never had the capacity for analytical review of the data and certainly do not have the presentation layer to be able to present information in a meaningful, timely manner.
"This is why modern focused BI solutions have evolved", Blatherwick continues. "The problem with most BI solutions on the market is that they are either elaborate reporting devices or are large complex tool kits designed for the generic IT market that do not understand the needs, structures and hierarchies of a retailer.
Retail organisations today have more data, complexity and competition than ever before. Some retailers might think that with so much available data, turning it into useable information that aids decision-making means acquiring or developing a level of analytics that was not previously available. Whilst having a vast amount of information is extremely useful, what is really needed is true guided analytics that make sense of it all and guide the retail executive to the key facts. This eliminates the need to sift through mountains of data or write purpose built reports  which often provide inaccurate information and are delivered too late to be of any use.
Retailers need tools that increase their productivity by alerting them to problems and directing them as to where to look to find the solution, and most of all, everyone in the organisation needs to be looking at information from the same data source whilst also having the ability to tailor specific information to the role they play in the company. Many retailers, using generic business intelligence solutions, are finding the licensing model adopted by the 'traditional' vendors cost prohibitive as they are licensed per seat. This makes it difficult for information to be shared across large numbers of employees. Manthan offers it's solution on an enterprise license model, thereby enabling retailers to make the best use of information across all lines of business irrespective of the number of users.
Manthan is a provider of Retail Business Intelligence solutions, and can implement a Retail Analytic platform that enables retailers to get more from their legacy systems. Its solutions are already assisting retailers around the world in a multitude of ways. Peter Crowne, Financial Director at GAME, comments: "The retail-specific capabilities of ARC Retail Business Intelligence and its best practice approach gave us the ability to move much faster than we would have been able to do with more generic solutions. In our very dynamic business we need to be able to keep our finger on the pulse at all times and ARC will enable us to do just that."

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