We have seen the term “the cloud” and read about cloud computing for years now. We’ve shared files, showcased our lives through apps on our phones, and even seen a doctor virtually, all enabled by the cloud. But what does the cloud mean for the retail world, and more specifically, our work at CPG brands?
It started with servers
To answer that question, let’s start with a little history lesson. When companies moved out of their filing cabinets to digitize their data, it still required physical office space to house expensive data server hardware that specialized technical teams had to build, manage and maintain. For the company to actually gain value from these machines and teams, they also needed programmers to build or connect the servers to specialized applications. Those applications were often department-specific and held data solely related to that job responsibility.
In this environment, building and running reports required knowledge of programming languages, so most people accessing those reports were essentially stuck with what their tech team could deliver. Getting a new report type or changing the data source on an existing report required a ticket to the IT team that was often met with some resistance to execute. As a result, teams mostly used the data provided to them, and when questions or anomalies occurred, they would have to start calling or emailing other teams to find answers.
In comes the cloud
Once the cloud came along, it enabled on-demand availability of computing resources, including data storage, without heavy lifting by each department. Companies started to see the advantages of using this shared computing power, but the investments in the on-premise data warehouses were too fresh to give up quickly. However, as is often the case with emerging technologies, new opportunities and demand over the years continued to push companies into this frontier.
For companies, the big three cloud providers (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) offer scalable and secure storage solutions on platforms that offer a wide range of services. This flexibility allows companies of any size to be competitive, as the systems eliminate the data silos of yesterday to make information available to users on any team.
As the cloud has grown, so has our capacity to take in data. In fact, business success today depends on obtaining more data, from more sources, more often -- and making that data accessible to internal or external teams to enhance collaboration. As a result of growing data demand and access, file sizes are growing, exceeding yesterday’s gigabyte sizes, as are the number of people the files are shared with. Today, terabytes to exabytes of data are stored and shared with hundreds if not thousands of team members across the globe. None of this could happen without the global network of servers that you essentially “rent” space on known as the “Cloud.”
A free flow of data
In our daily work lives, there’s a significant benefit: the cloud lets us access and own our own data. When you have the data you need, you can ask questions, gain insights, and make sound decisions that drive execution. And in an age of rapidly evolving consumer behavior, the data suppliers and retailers need to respond to changes has grown exponentially. In the past, sales data might be collected from your retail partners once a week. As a result, decisions were often made based on data that was already stale. Then systems improved and that data was available on a daily download, which greatly improved business decisions. If you have a business that is reliant on fluctuating commodities, that is still too slow, and the pace continues to evolve. As retail modernizes, cloud-enabled POS systems will allow near real-time data to stream directly to CPG suppliers who can capture and respond to that information. The data can even flow through smart systems that automatically trigger data alerts or actions to people along the supply chain. This enables quick action and more informed decisions, especially if unexpected events occur.
Crisp’s open-data platform is built to support this type of cloud-enabled collaboration. With Crisp, retailers and distributors share live, real-time data feeds of their sales, inventory and supply chain data all in one place, helping them work together to keep shelves stocked and customers happy. Crisp leverages the power of the cloud to connect and analyze disparate data sources, helping brands of any size unlock meaningful insights and trends. And with Outbound Connectors, Crisp now offers opportunities to share this data within your company’s cloud data lake or connect it to on premise servers.
To learn more about Crisp’s open-data platform, contact us for a demo. To stay up-to-date on the latest cloud-based news, subscribe to the blog.