Large National Retail and Consumer Products Organization

When data center interruptions create supply chain interruptions, Deloitte and the cloud step in

Creative cloud solutioning leads to greater flexibility, reliability, and accuracy at a fraction of the expected cost
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01 / 05 The Need

A large national retail and consumer products organization had systems in place to forecast, monitor, and control progress through its fast-moving supply chain. These systems resided in physical data centers—which meant that should those centers suffer an outage, disruption to the network and store inventories would cause significant loss of revenue every minute.

The cost of creating redundant legacy systems to mitigate risk was significant. Fortunately, the data that helped forecast and control product movement—SKUs, purchase orders, invoice data, and pricing—remained the same. In the event of an outage, the company could pull the needed static data from a redundant data source. However, the system that translated one data source into the other had to be backed up by the most reliable architecture available.

02 / 05 Engagement

Rather than add redundancy to its data centers that would only extend legacy systems at significant cost, Deloitte counseled the organization to create a backup solution born in the cloud. Deloitte then designed and implemented the system on an aggressive timetable.

03 / 05 How We Did It

Because the supply chain backup system’s ultimate output was not automated control, but rather intelligence for action by human decision-makers, the team built in a user-centric web interface. Cloud microservices and APIs kept the solution scalable and flexible.

A 150-member team assembled from more than 13 Deloitte practice groups created a cloud-native solution hosted on the organization’s Microsoft Azure cloud platform, using services like Azure Databricks and Spark to provide advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

More than 300 user stories and 230 data pipelines were involved in designing the new system, ingesting and processing the operational data. Integrating cloud services so they would comply with the company’s security requirements was a collaborative achievement among development, compliance, and operations members of the team.

04 / 05 Results
  • The project moved from discovery to implementation in less than 12 months, finishing three weeks ahead of schedule
  • Total cost of ownership for the cloud-based system was 10 times more affordable than a backup using data center redundancy would have been
  • The recovery time objective to emerge from the effects of a data center outage shrunk from 72 hours to a few minutes.
  • In side-by-side tests, the new system’s predictive metrics were notably more accurate than the existing primary production system
  • The team’s use of Agile best practices and DevOps techniques from start to finish helped deliver the solution incrementally
  • The system as designed has been extended from the retailer’s core inventory to specialty areas such as pharmacy and member sales
  • The reference architecture of the new inventory system is adaptable to pivot to other parts of the business, and the company’s Finance department is already working to adopt it
05 / 05 Contacts
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Douglas Oliver
Principal
Siva Muthu
Managing Director
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