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Big Data in Practice by Bernard Marr

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1 WALMART How Big Data Is Used To Drive Supermarket Performance

Background

Walmart are the largest retailer in the world and the world’s largest company by revenue, with over two million employees and 20,000 stores in 28 countries.

With operations on this scale it’s no surprise that they have long seen the value in data analytics. In 2004, when Hurricane Sandy hit the US, they found that unexpected insights could come to light when data was studied as a whole, rather than as isolated individual sets. Attempting to forecast demand for emergency supplies in the face of the approaching Hurricane Sandy, CIO Linda Dillman turned up some surprising statistics. As well as flashlights and emergency equipment, expected bad weather had led to an upsurge in sales of strawberry Pop Tarts in several other locations. Extra supplies of these were dispatched to stores in Hurricane Frances’s path in 2012, and sold extremely well.

Walmart have grown their Big Data and analytics department considerably since then, continuously staying on the cutting edge. In 2015, the company announced they were in the process of creating the world’s largest private data cloud, to enable the processing of 2.5 petabytes of information every hour.

What Problem Is Big Data Helping To Solve?

Supermarkets sell millions of products to millions of people every day. It’s a fiercely competitive industry which a large proportion of people living in the developed world count on to provide them with day-to-day essentials. ...

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