In today’s fast-paced, digitized business environment, agility and flexibility dictate the speed at which organizations can adapt to market and business developments. Data is the currency driving business, so having ready access to comprehensive, reliable live data to support agility and informed decision making can be key competitive differentiators. This case study outlines how American Tire Distributors (ATD), North America’s premier tire distributor, successfully deployed data virtualization – in the form of Promethium’s Data Fabric – across its entire IT ecosystem to solve legacy supply chain challenges, resulting in several operational benefits.
Operating across a vast network of more than 130 distribution centers, and with a team of over 9,000 installers, central to ATD’s operations is ensuring that the business always has the right amount of product in the right place at the right time. However, Ehrar Jameel, the company’s Director of Data Management and Analytics, identified several significant data access challenges due to the number of scattered data sources within the organization.
A lack of visibility across ATD’s supply chain meant the company was unable to view both inventory and order information for all products in all distribution centers. Furthermore, sales orders, logistics and inventory did not exist within a single data view, which made analytics challenging. As a result, the business was either carrying excess inventory in each distribution center, or did not have enough inventory, and was unable to reallocate inventory dynamically, leading to potential revenue shortfall.
To ensure supply chain optimization and solve these operational challenges, ATD needed complete visibility of its supply chain in order to identify specific issues and formulate a resolution strategy. Key to this was the capability to access data from multiple sources scattered both within and without the organization, including transportation management systems, warehousing systems, and other logistics systems, in real time. In addition, this had to happen without having to move vast swathes of data, with everything presented in a single view, in a format that made sense, and was available quickly.
“After evaluating a number of potential methods and solutions to address the data challenges we faced, we decided that implementing a data virtualization solution as a core element of ATD’s data strategy was the optimal route to improving supply chain management,” comments Jameel.
To deploy data virtualization across its IT ecosystem, ATD worked closely with Promethium, using its virtual data platform to build a virtualized data access layer. Deploying Promethium’s Data Fabric took just two hours to complete, and enabled ATD to virtualize their entire data infrastructure, seamlessly connecting all of its internal and external data sources to be accessible through one portal, in a single view.
Promethium Data Fabric provides a single source solution to find, verify and share data for all users. It can replace multiple solutions, meaning a reduction in costs for customers. Data Fabric enables easy, rapid data virtualization that does not require data movement. Customers are able to generate faster insights, and answer data queries in minutes, reducing wait times across the business. Additionally, productivity is boosted through the automation of repetitive tasks, reduced operational complexity and the ability for teams to collaborate in real time. The solution is also future proof as the agnostic nature of Data Fabric enables customers to change to new data sources and tools easily.
“Data virtualization using Data Fabric allowed us to create a virtual bridge connecting all the different data sources scattered across the ATD supply chain,” continues Jameel. “Through the ability to access and seamlessly merge data from multiple sources, where data is added live, as if it were a single, unified data store, and without the need to physically replicate or move the data, our data analytics capabilities were exponentially improved. We were able to quickly assemble a complete, end-to-end view of the flow of goods across that supply chain, Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies, exceptions in the supply chain, and take corrective action, all in real time.”
On the ground, using Promethium’s Data Fabric, ATD deployed real time demand planning and supply reallocation, identifying the data it required, then creating data sets from all of its existing data sources and data warehouses. This significantly improved operational intelligence, agility and customer service, enabling ATD to generate new revenue and reduce cost on excess inventory, uncovering inventory and unfulfilled orders across its distribution centers, and highlighting which centers can fulfill orders for others should that be necessary. Importantly, no technical knowledge is required to use the technology, meaning that any user can access and modify data as they need, an important factor for a dispersed organization such as ATD.
“Deploying the Promethium platform really reinforced our vision to be the most connected and insightful automotive service provider,” concludes Jameel. “On the macro level, data virtualization helped us improve our supply chain management and make more informed decisions about optimizing our operations. In addition, we have also improved data accessibility, reduced the cost and time of data integration, improved our data governance, increased business agility, and sped up the process of gaining insights from data.”