Databricks Launches Analytics Platform for Retailers

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Lakehouse for Retail builds on the services it provides to pharmacy-giant Walgreens and other customers

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“Lakehouse’s vision is to help address many of the challenges retail organizations have told us,” said Ali Ghodsi, Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Databricks.

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The San Francisco-based company sells services based on the open-source Apache Spark, a real-time data-analytics technology that Mr. Ghodsi helped create. Apache Spark emerged from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.

Lakehouse for Retail consolidates a wide range of information into a single digital repository. In the past, such repositories, often called data lakes, required users to make a copy of the data so that it could be structured and analyzed in an isolated environment, the company said. According to Databricks, the new concept of “lakehouse” allows users to analyze data in the repository itself.

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Lakehouse for Retail aims to “help organizations operate in real time, provide more accurate analytics and leverage all of their customer data to uncover valuable insights,” said Mr. Ghodsi. The platform is also designed to facilitate data-driven collaboration and sharing between businesses and partners in the retail industry, he said.

Retail data is growing rapidly and the ability to capture and analyze that data has emerged as a major source of competitive advantage.

“If you look where [retailers are] “Putting your money is in new ways of collecting and processing this information,” said David Swartz, equity analyst in the Consumer Sector Research Group at research firm Morningstar. Inc.

Privately held Databricks says it has raised $3.5 billion so far. The company had revenue of $425 million in fiscal year 2021 ending January 31, 2021, and said in August that it had annual recurring revenue of $600 million. Databricks said its current valuation is $38 billion.

Investors include funds and accounts managed by Morgan Stanley Counterpoint Global, Andreessen Horowitz, BlackRock Inc.,

According to the company, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Tiger Global Management and Cotu Management.

Lakehouse for Retail builds on the services that Databricks already provides to customers, including the US operations of pharmacy giant Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Until now, retail customers have had to build software and tools to gain more industry-specific insights from Databricks. According to Mr. Ghodsi, Lakehouse for Retail has retail-specific tools built into the platform itself, potentially expanding adoption in the region. Retailers want to make as much use of data as possible in managing their inventory and supply chain, forecasting demand and personalizing marketing campaigns for customers, he said.

Walgreens, based in Deerfield, Ill., has been using Databricks for four years and acquired Lakehouse for retail six months ago, said Luigi Guadagno, vice president of pharmacy and healthcare platform technology at Walgreens.

Mr Ghodsi said the special offer will be most useful to new Databricks customers, who will now be able to skip some of the steps of writing their own code to do things like inventory forecasting.

Still, pre-written code cannot serve as a full-blown solution for any retail enterprise, said Dan Wesset, group vice president, analytics and information management, market researcher International Data Corp., to “go 100% prebuilt”. Very difficult, because of the unique needs of subdivisions within an industry and the unique needs of an individual company,” Mr Wessett said.

The lakehouse idea combines elements of data lakes – which store structured, semi-structured and unstructured data – and the earlier idea of ​​a data warehouse, in which users conduct data analytics, according to Mr Wessett. The lakehouse concept is still relatively new, and most enterprises continue to use traditional data warehouses, he said.

According to Mr. Ghodsi, Databricks is looking to launch more industry-specific Lakehouse offerings targeting the healthcare, media and financial sectors.

Mr Guadagno of Walgreens said Databricks’ platform is attractive because it is scalable, it collects data in real time, and can be used by a variety of parties that rely on a variety of tools, including the people who write the software. , data miners and people who are involved in creating reports. The advantage is that Walgreens doesn’t have to spend money moving the data and translating it for different groups and all the data stays in one place.

“We understand more, and we know more,” when it comes to dealing with patients, Mr Guadagno said, and “Databricks is the engine behind this for us.”

Write Isabelle Bousquette [email protected] . Feather


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