Deeper Business Insight Data thanks to Microsoft SQL Server 2012: The PVH experience

PVH (with iconic brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, and IZOD) has grown to be one of the world's largest fashion companies, creating, producing, and selling clothes around the globe. To succeed in this fast-moving industry, responding to changing trends and buying patterns is vital. Being able to track sales and stock levels across multiple time periods and down to individual garment sizes is central to making business-critical decisions on a daily basis.

PVH's retail merchandising systems were creating a huge volume of data, but their built-in reporting was unable to deliver the level of granularity needed by the organisation. To fill this knowledge gap and respond to constant user requests, the 15-member Merchandising Systems IT team had to create bespoke reports on an ad-hoc basis. This was inefficient in two ways; reports took time to generate, risking lost opportunities, and skilled IT staff were prevented from working on other, longer-term projects. "We needed a solution that let us analyse data down to a granular level to spot market opportunities, was simple to use, and could cope with the volume, variety, and velocity of our data," says Jeff Lombardi, Group Vice President Merchandise Systems, PVH.

After extensive market research, PVH chose to work with Infodepth, a Microsoft partner with Gold competency in Business Intelligence. Infodepth recommended a solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 data management software and Microsoft Excel 2010 spreadsheet software.

"Moving to Microsoft SQL Server was very appealing as it provided us with future-proofed performance. We're adding nearly 10 million new entries to our data warehouse every day so we required a powerful, fast, scalable, and simple-to-manage platform. SQL Server 2012 ticks all the boxes. Excel is already a common language for our users, meaning they could create their own reports from day one with no IT involvement, which made it the perfect choice for the front end of our solution," says Lombardi.

The project began in April 2012, with 3.5 terabytes of data covering sales, transactions, and stock ledger information from 16 separate systems integrated into the data warehouse. "The data warehouse worked strongly from day one, delivering blisteringly fast performance, and it scales effortlessly to handle PVH's huge datasets, giving users unparalleled business insight," says Phil Chesterton, Product Development Director, Infodepth.

PVH's new solution enables its managers to analyse precise information quickly and easily, deepening their understanding of the business and consequently driving more informed decisions. Since the system went fully live in January 2013, PVH has seen the following major benefits.

Better insights. Users now have access to a wealth of detailed information that was previously unavailable to them. The ability to analyse granular data, down to the size and colour of individual garments, delivers better inventory management, thereby reducing overall stock costs and making it easier to spot new opportunities, yielding additional sales growth.

Complete, easy-to-manage platform. Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and Excel 2010 are designed to work well together, so PVH's platform is seamlessly integrated, reducing management time and cost. As users can quickly generate their own reports, the IT team saves one day per week and is now able to focus on supporting the business in other areas. With staff already highly skilled in using Excel.

PVH has not needed to invest in licensing a new reporting tool, and training time has been minimised, leading to annual software cost savings of approximately 183,000 pounds.

Faster performance. While the information within the very large data warehouse is highly complex, day-to-day performance is extremely fast. Users are able to run multiple reports at the same time, reducing the time to find information from 40 minutes to just 2 in some cases.

More and more businesses are using technology to better understand their customer buying journey and respond appropriately. Are you in tune with your customer's needs?

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