Today’s successful retail leaders rely on up-to-date data, metrics, and solid facts to support their business decisions. The retail industry is one of the richest in diverse data, which is key to understanding customer demand. Applying data analytics to the rapidly growing sources of insights and customer points of contact can provide both broad and granular competitive analysis and opportunities to optimize inventory.

However, massive data integration through long extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes from multiple systems remains a pain point for many retail organizations, especially as they grow. The wealth of data available through ETL can be vital to bringing historical context to products and preferences, but today’s retailers need a real-time view of business on the fly.

So how can retail organizations aggregate and move huge amounts of complex business data quickly and achieve speed to insights in real-time? What happens when a company doesn’t want to scrap legacy system investments? Can the old technology coexist with the new? One solution that excels in answering all these questions is the Incorta Direct Data Platform.

To make the case for its platform, Incorta commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study to determine the benefits various enterprises might experience from deployment, including cost-of-ownership and return on investment (ROI). Among those interviewed were executives from a North American retail chain with more than $25 billion in yearly revenue.


Prior to the Direct Data Platform’s use, the retailer experienced significant challenges with integrating and processing large data sets from many unstructured and eternal sources. Like many other companies, it sought a better way to deliver business reporting that could bypass the unstable and work-intensive ETL data process. In addition, the company had no desire to replace the existing environment or employ new technology teams but needed immediate value just where the company was struggling.

“The challenges you are running into is the performance because we have so much data in these systems and as we try to run reports on those, the performance was getting degraded. We wanted something less complex that can handle more data, and won’t force us to hire a lot of people with new skill sets.” – Retail Director of Engineering

The beauty of Incorta’s Direct Data Platform is that it complements any existing data infrastructure, provides simplified integration and super-fast performance. It flexibly connects and consolidates data from all sources without having to reshape it to provide retail insights and on-demand reporting.

“What we really achieved through using Incorta was a tool which can scale to that data set, and we don’t have to build a specific report every time the business wants a new analysis. Our engineering team saved a lot of time, and the business sees the value through the insights and being able to make decisions [on] which products are most profitable to sell.” – Retail Director of Engineering

Self-Service Analytics

Even better, the Direct Data Platform delivers end-to-end self-service data analytics that frees costly engineering time because it’s served directly to the business user. After deploying Incorta, the retailer’s engineering team was able to train business analysts to handle most of their own reporting.

“We trained teams on Incorta, which are supporting their specific business function. Instead of hiring or retraining the team supporting BI tools, we trained the teams like finance or manufacturing to deliver within their space. Now, everyone in the organization has [the] capability to deliver on the platform, helping us deliver crucial business insights faster, and not having to wait months.” – Retail Director of Engineering

The Forrester report estimated a 25% reduction in efforts to support database and ETL processes, as well as 50% productivity improvement for business analysts. Creating the self-service reporting previously requested had been extremely difficult with only the legacy system in use, but became available in minutes with the Incorta platform.

“I am essentially writing zero lines of code. I’m just going to the system and doing it one time, that’s it — a huge savings when it comes to moving the data.” – Retail executive

ROI and Speed

By using the Incorta Direct Data Platform, the retailer was able to perform a 20+ year historical analysis of gift card use and determine guidelines for the accrual of breakage revenue from unused balances. As a result, the company was able to report a one-time, multimillion-dollar increase on its balance sheet.

“What we paid in the first-year license costs, we saved it from the delivery of the very first project. If we were building it without Incorta, it was a 12-month project. We delivered that project in 12 weeks.” – Retail Director of Engineering

Prior to the Incorta implementation, it would take a team 200 hours to build, test, and deploy a new data integration into the data lake. After its deployment, retail business analysts could perform the same function in 5 minutes.

The productivity recapture and workload reductions demonstrated immense savings for this retailer. As well, Forrester’s report reflects enormous gains in inventory waste reduction, supply chain optimization, and sustainability.

Read the Report