“Data is the new oil!”
This is the war cry of Under Armour’s CEO to describe the justification for acquiring four data platforms (MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo and Gritness) to create the largest, digitally connected community on the planet.
The challenge is that data, like raw crude oil, requires constant refinement.
In this 5 minute video, David Roberts, Under Armour’s Director of Corporate FP&A, outlines how Under Armour uses Big Data to create authentic customer connections, augment product innovation and optimize operations.
We look to leverage big data in a major way. In fact, if I would depict the architecture that we have at Under Armour, it’s not 100% SAP; we really use, as I mentioned before, a great deal of open source. We have a Hadoop cluster, an HDFS cluster that has all of the tools from Hadoop in it – Hive, YARN, so on and so forth – and we use that as our data link so that 5 terabytes of brand new data lands into this place first. We use some of the tools that exist within that solution in order to enrich, refine and filter out that data in order to move it up into what we typically refer to as the speed layer. If you’re familiar with the lambda methodology for big data architecture, we have a speed layer and a batch layer. The batch layer is essentially where you put all of the big data, and the speed layer is where you have the high-value data that you’re actually performing analytics against.
In this particular instance we centre the vision around the consumer, the customer and the athlete. We have all of our commercial activities, so our system of record if you’re thinking about it from the Gartner perspective, so everything that’s coming in from Customer Relationship Management, all of our ecommerce activities from the proprietary platform that we use underarmour.com; if any of you want to check that out, the Curry 3 Basketball shoe will be available this Saturday, so maybe you want to start getting familiar with the website today so that you can be the first to buy that this Saturday. When you go, and there’s a time to actually put in note in at the end right before you check out, tell them Dave Roberts sent you and you might actually get a discount. I’m dead serious – you might get a discount. [laughter]
We incorporate everything from Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP. We have gone through this transition where we were previously running ECC, the Enterprise Core Component, 6.5 with the Apparel and Footwear industry solution on top, and we felt like that wasn’t necessarily the platform we needed to continue to invest in. It wasn’t scalable, we found that we were doing a lot of things in order to customise it to accommodate for missing capabilities and functionality within the platform, so we said, “You know what? We’re actually going to take the leap of faith,” and we implemented SAP S/4HANA last year. We’re using S/4HANA in the area of finance today, but we’re expanding on that by extending it with the Fashion Management System, FMS, on top of it. It helps us support everything from order management to financials, as well as some of the key functions within consumer products and retail, like fulfilment and replenishment and things of that nature.
I said before, we have over 9 billion sources for social media data, so we take everything from the Twitters and the Facebooks to forums and micro forums so we have the ability to see blog posts and things of that nature, running with a natural language processing engine against it so we can truly understand what’s being stated and what the sentiment is with the posting that has a reference to Under Armour. All of our retail activities, more than 300 doors that are owned by Under Armour and over 10,000 doors that are actually managed by Under Armour through our customer network, with stores like Rebel Sport, Foot Locker, Dick’s Sporting Goods and so on and so forth.
In addition, our marketing activity, we leverage Hybris Marketing, on top of what SAP calls the Customer Activity Repository, CAR. This gives us the ability to truly mesh those connected fitness data points along with the commercial data points in one place and create a golden consumer profile record. This leads us to a tighter engagement model with our consumers, we have the ability to see what are their likes, what’s their lifestyle, what’s their behaviours. In many cases we have the ability to personalise the way that we interact with them based on this data. We also have a great deal of product information, so we’ve been using things like Adobe Omniture in order to capture some of the feedback and the web activity for people who are affiliated with Under Armour, our consumers and our customers. But we also incorporate visions of the product, the 2B and also some of the concepts that are provided from outside of our four walls.
To put all of this together, we want this for the purpose of creating authentic connections to augment our product innovation. I shared in a session yesterday how if you go into an Under Armour brand store, one of our flagship stores, you have the opportunity to create your own running shoe. And we’re not just taking a running shoe that we have available today and giving you the chance to change the colour; you actually get to design it using a simplistic CAD modelling tool directly in the store and have it printed out with a full 3D printer, available for you to put on your feet and walk out the store with within an hour. We take and store that information for all of these creations that people come into the store and use, and that actually helps, as a catalyst, to jump-start our product development life cycle.
All of this is in essence helping us to optimise operations and drive greater profitability. We distil this information in real time, because we stream much of this data in – the social media feeds, your geo location and things of that nature – in order to affect change at the point of decision. We break it down across our customer relationships based on business, the products, as well as the distribution channel and the geography, where you’re located, and this helps us to enable actionable, multichannel customer engagement. We store everything to create a lifetime of value for the consumer. Once again, the goal isn’t anymore to just sell a ton of product, it’s really to impact life.
About the Speaker
David Roberts is Director of Corporate FP&A at Under Armour, and Vice President of Platform Solutions at SAP. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Finance from The George Washington University and a MBA from The University of Georgia. His 15 years of professional experience spans multiple industries (Financial Services, High Tech, Utilities, Public Sector, Consumer Products and Retail), and he has deep expertise in the areas of Finance, Accounting and Supply Chain. David lives in Washington D.C. with his wife and two children.