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How Etam is turning data strategy into a transformation trend

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels April 30, 2024
Summary:
The French retailer is building its data foundations on Snowflake.

etam

French lingerie retailer Etam is consolidating around a data platform upon which it can create a group-wide strategy for key data issues, such as architecture, tooling, governance and value.

The IT team at Etam was previously organized around applications, according to Sophie Gallay, the company's Global Data and Client IT Director:

There were lots of opportunities to use data and lots of projects happening, but everything was siloed, especially when it came to leveraging data. The most important point is having strong data foundations and a unique source of data with quality that you can monitor and manage.

However, she says data is a “transversal” subject and siloed teams make it difficult to write and deploy an enterprise-wide data strategy. Senior executives at Etam recognised data could play a key role in business growth: 

Data was previously seen as something great when you want to monitor business performance. Now, data is seen as great to have and the cherry on the cake, but also a main value lever that provides an opportunity to help us thrive. And right now, there is more focus on data than before.

Gallay joined Etam in February 2023 and began implementing the first 18-month phase of her data strategy in June of that year. This first phase, which will run until the end of 2024, is focused on the construction of a fresh data platform using Snowflake technology:

Choosing Snowflake was part of our data strategy and trying to create a foundation that will be used for pretty much any analytics work, whether that’s business intelligence, data science, machine learning, and even our generative AI explorations.

Building solid foundations

The first 18 months of the data strategy center on building the data foundations and a supporting technology stack. Etam chose to implement Snowflake rather than develop a bespoke platform.  Etam runs Snowflake on AWS. The company’s data stack includes Oracle for its CRM database and SAP as its ERP. Etam also uses Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud. The company’s main Business Intelligence (BI) tool is Tableau. 

The move to Snowflake is taking place alongside an application rationalization process, adds Gallay: 

It's great to create a group data platform but around the platform is going to live lots of different tools at the front and back. There's a strong effort around rationalizing the tools that collect the data and the tools that are used to export the data to users.

The first phase of the data strategy will also address governance concerns. Gallay says some employees at Etam were dealing with data quality or compliance concerns, but there was no organisation-wide structure or roadmap for data governance:

We’re doing data lineage, FinOps and Data Ops. Everything is being done on Snowflake. It’s a way for us to accelerate data governance. It would have been almost impossible to deploy the same data governance strategy on our legacy infrastructure.”

Making the most of data

Etam has started using Snowflake to collect data and start building models. Models matter, Gallay advises: 

Do not forget the most important point, as well as having the right technology partners, is thinking about the data model and how you use data within the platform.

Gallay’s team is running two projects to prove the value of the technology to the business. The first project is a BI project to create the company’s first dashboard for a 360-degree view of customers. The second is a data science project that will help to boost forecasts for store replenishment:

We have an important challenge around optimising our warehouse management system. We have a tool within our ERP, which provides replenishment orders. It's quite a basic tool and we want to make it smarter. We're going to switch from basic rules to data science rules. All the stock recommendations will be calculated in Snowflake and then pushed within our replenishment order system.

As Gallay completes the first part of her data strategy through 2024, she’ll continue to look for new ways to help Etam make the most of its data. Those projects will include improved BI, smarter performance optimisation and new exploitations of generative AI. As these use cases develop, so will the company’s use of Snowflake:

Right now, we're using Snowflake for analytics rather than transactional data. But with testing, we might be able to use Snowflake as a data hub. Once it becomes a data hub, we can manage warm and cold data in the same place. That approach would simplify all the architecture, data flows and data transformations within the company.

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