The Four Fallacies of Retail: Why Traditional Data Warehousing and Analytics Don’t Lead to Breakthrough Innovation

In his 2015 NRF Talk, "Retail Big Data, and the Valley of Disappointment," VP of Retail Strategy at 1010data, Richard Michalec spoke of the Four Fallacies of Retail, a set of widely held beliefs about retail and technology that have been proven false over time. In this blog series, I’ll be expounding on each of the fallacies in greater depth.


In the technology industry, innovation is a truly over-hyped word. Where does innovation really come from? What is the fabric of innovation? And even more elusive: how do you build a culture of innovation at your company?


The Power of People

At its core, innovation comes from people coming together and using their combined intellectual horsepower and perseverance to transform a product or process. For Steve Jobs, innovation was absolutely a people-driven process:

But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we've been thinking about a problem. -Steve Jobs

Traditional Technology Can Detract From Innovation

The problem arises is when the technology you’ve been using no longer empowers your people either because it’s become outdated or because it falls short in the face of modern needs. Time and time again, we’ve seen situations where our client’s legacy data warehousing and analytics solutions have proven to make business discovery slow and retroactive rather than agile and responsive. And instead of giving people the ability to “shoot holes” in their own thinking, systematically places them in a pattern of circular reasoning, where they’re forced to make untested upfront assumptions in order to reduce the risk of having to restructure their analyses (which can be measured in weeks of additional work). Nothing could be more disincentivizing to building a culture of innovation.


Combining Your People with the Right Big Data Discovery Technology

When you reduce the amount of proverbial paper pushing your people have to do, you give them more time to actually put their intellectual power to use.  Modern Big Data Discovery platforms depart from traditional BI systems in ways that empower business users to search for insight.

When you give your people access to a platform which enables them to mine your company’s history, you give them the opportunity to build something different from the past. It’s incredibly important that your data infrastructure be as nimble as your talented team is, empowering them to ask any question, get any answer and avoid the pitfalls of being overly bureaucratic and complex.

At the end of the day, innovation doesn't come from traditional methods of analyses or doing things the way they’ve always been done. It comes from setting the right business priorities and giving your people the space and technological resources to dig deep and uncover insight at the rate they think. Big Data Discovery tools provide this opportunity through greater self service to each individual user and and the ability to tackle nearly limitless amounts of data in an environment where business users can truly flourish.