Seeing Past the Hype Cycle: Takeaways From Broadcom, Starbucks, and Incorta at Oracle Open World

September 23, 2019
by: By Brian Keare, CIO at Incorta
Blog

For today’s IT leaders, staying on top of the latest technology trends and innovations is no small task. We are living in a time of accelerating change, and the hype cycles surrounding new technologies now come and go faster than ever before. 

For companies across every industry, the usual suspects are AI, machine learning, blockchain, and IoT. These stunning ideas are looking less like science fiction every day. But will they really affect your bottom line in the next year? Not likely.

The reality is that these technologies are not the ones that will make the big differences for your business in the next 12 months. It is the practical technologies that enable companies to become increasingly data-driven—in real-time instead of in the rearview mirror—that will prove to be the most essential and impactful. In the supply chain, for example, being able to easily light up data from multiple systems, logistics providers, vendors, and warehouses on one pane of glass is something that companies should aspire to do today.  The same goes for technology that helps your CFO consolidate data from a recent acquisition, or drive new insights around customer or product profitability. These may not be today’s most “hyped” technologies, but they are the ones that can make a real difference.   

At this year’s Oracle Open World, I was honored to share the stage with two remarkable IT leaders: Ajit Oak (Senior Manager Business Intelligence at Broadcom) and Jay Singh (Director of Engineering at Starbucks). Our conversation centered on the real business problems that enterprises face today and a realistic examination of the foundational technologies that actually make a difference for their business. 


Ajit shared insights on how Broadcom is navigating a world where uncertainty and change are the new normal. While the ongoing international tariff wars are creating supply chain concerns that keep many executives up at night, Ajit and Broadcom are staying agile and responsive with the help of Incorta. Ajit explained how the company is bringing its supply chain data together in new ways to create a holistic view that includes everything from factories to vendors. By making the entire supply chain available for analytics with Incorta, Broadcom was able to understand their supply chain in a whole new light—and against the backdrop of today’s volatile and unpredictable global environment—and give them a competitive edge versus others who were stuck in data quicksand. According to Ajit, “Most CEOs don’t want to hear what they are getting in six months—they want to hear what they are getting tomorrow. Six-month, nine-month, year-long reporting is not good enough anymore.” 

Jay at Starbucks walked us through the company’s recent efforts to optimize the technology used to monitor and analyze profitability—in particular, making the shift from manual financial reporting via unwieldy spreadsheets to automated data collection and real-time analytics across billions of transactions. “If you look at last year, we did something like $24.6B in revenue—yet our average [transaction] is maybe $5. You can do the math: it’s about 100 million transactions every week,” he said. “That creates a huge amount of data, and getting real insights has [traditionally] been a huge challenge.”

Enter Incorta: what started as an attempt to shore up profitability quickly turned into an opportunity to expand and improve the core business. The data made available through Incorta gave Starbucks an opening to experiment with more predictive modeling for managing in-store inventory and developing new strategies for product launches, ultimately saving the company millions of dollars. 

Globally, Starbucks has approximately 30,000 stores and 400 different products. “Imagine looking at a year’s worth of data—that’s literally billions and billions of records,” said Jay. “It’s not that we couldn’t get answers, but the time it took was really costing us. That’s where Incorta came in—we were able to remove the layers between raw data and our analysts, and now we can provide those answers immediately.”

More broadly, we also discussed how companies today approach acquisitions and divestitures. As any data exec knows, consolidating data reporting during acquisitions can take months—or even years. This blindspot can seriously hamstring decision-making ability in a crucial time, and can derail company priorities that existed before the acquisition was announced. By focusing on quick integrations using Incorta, Broadcom was able to shorten the months-long data consolidation process and present the CFO’s office with a full financial report just days after an acquisition. It has completely changed the pace of business: in mere days after acquisitions are finalized, the C-suite can have a full picture of the state of the new, combined business and use it to confidently chart a course forward. 

A detailed case study covering on Broadcom’s usage of Incorta for supply chain optimization and driving rapid M&A integration is available here.   

The key takeaway from my on-stage discussion with Ajit and Jay? The more things change, the more they stay the same. Foundational technologies are still the difference-makers for big business—and Incorta can power these technologies in countless ways.