Databricks Launches Analytics Platform for Retailers

Data analytics company Databricks Inc. said on Thursday it had launched a platform that helps retailers pull insights faster from their data.

The platform, called Lakehouse for Retail, features industry-specific tools that help users solve challenges with inventory management, demand forecasting, and recommendation modeling. the company said.

“The Lakehouse vision helps address many of the challenges retail organizations have told us they are facing,” said Ali Ghodsi, chief executive officer and co-founder of Databricks.

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

Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi


Photo:

Databricks Inc.

Lakehouse for Retail aggregates a wide variety of information in a single digital repository. In the past, such repositories, commonly known as data lakes, required users to create a copy of the data so that it could be structured and analyzed in a separate environment, the company said. According to Databricks, the newer concept of a “lakehouse” allows users to analyze data within the repository itself.

Lakehouse for Retail’s goal is “to help organizations operate in real-time, analyze more accurately, and leverage all of their customer data to uncover valuable insights,” said Ghodsi. speak. 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 key source of competitive advantage.

“If you look at the place [retailers are] David Swartz, equity analyst in the consumer sector research group at the research firm, said:

Daystar Inc.

Privately held Databricks says it has raised $3.5 billion to date. The company had $425 million in revenue for fiscal year 2021, which ended January 31, 2021, and in August said its annual recurring revenue was $600 million. Databricks says its current valuation is $38 billion.

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

Black stones Inc.,

Canada Pension Plan Investments (CPP Investments), Tiger Global Management and Coatue Management, according to the company.

Lakehouse for Retail builds on the services Databricks has provided to clients, including the pharmaceutical giant’s US operations

Walgreens

Boots Alliance Inc. Up until now, retail customers had had to create software and tools to solicit more industry-specific insights from Databricks. Lakehouse for Retail has retail-specific tools built into the platform, potentially expanding adoption in the sector, according to Ghodsi. Retailers are looking to leverage data in inventory and supply chain management, demand forecasting and personalizing marketing campaigns for customers, he said.

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Pharmacy manager Jayme Strnatka works behind the counter at a Walgreens store in Chicago.


Photo:

eileen meslar / Reuters

Luigi Guadagno, vice president, pharmacy and healthcare platform technology at Walgreens, said Walgreens, which is headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., has been using Databricks for four years and has access to Lakehouse for Retail six months ago.

Ghodsi said the specialized offering would be most helpful to new Databricks customers, who will now be able to skip some of the steps of writing their own code to do things like forecast inventory.

However, pre-written code cannot act as an all-in-one solution for any given retail business, said Dan Vesset, vice president of groups, analytics and information management at market researcher International Data “It is very difficult to build 100% in advance, because of the unique requirements of segments within an industry and also the very unique requirements of an individual company,” said Mr. Vesset.

According to Vesset, the idea of ​​a lake house combines elements of a data lake — a place where structured, semi-structured and unstructured data is stored — and the earlier idea of ​​a data warehouse, in which people used to analyze data. The Lakehouse concept is still relatively new, he said, and most businesses continue to use traditional data warehouses.

Databricks is also looking to roll out more industry-specific Lakehouse services targeting healthcare, media and finance, Ghodsi said.

Walgreens’ Guadagno said the Databricks platform is attractive because it is scalable, collects data in real time, and it can be used by different parties based on different tools, including software writers, data miners and report creators. The benefit is that Walgreens doesn’t have to spend money moving data and translating it across multiple teams, and all the data stays in the same place.

“We understand more, and we know more,” said Mr. Guadagno, adding that “Databricks is the engine that supports us.”

Write letter for Isabelle Bousquette at Isabelle.Bousquette@wsj.com

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Ian Walker

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