DUNNHUMBY, a UK-based global leader in customer science, is currently working in area of ‘Technology Renewal’ programme. Technology Renewal is a multi-year, multidiscipline programme adopting a cloud first, open source approach to the company’s foundational technologies, bringing greater freedom, flexibility and speed to dunnhumby and its clients. To get a deeper insight into the programme, My Mobile interacted with Prithvesh Katoch, Head of Data Engineering, dunnhumby India, who has been with dunnhumby for close to six years now and leads the data engineering function, which is responsible for building, maintaining and enhancing dunnhumby data solutions. Prior to dunnhumby, Katoch worked in Accenture for over six years as a data consultant and data delivery expert across various domains including telecom, banking etc.
We hear you’re working on a ‘Technology Renewal Programme’ at dunnhumby – what exactly is this? How can it be leveraged for mobile shoppers?
Technology Renewal is a multi-year, multi-discipline programme adopting a cloud first, open source approach to our foundational technologies, bringing greater freedom, flexibility and speed to dunnhumby and its clients. In a mobile environment, the customer can provide real time feedback to us through platforms such as apps around their preferences and choices. The technology renewal programme at dunnhumby gives us the agility to collate the data and respond accordingly in a real-time environment.
How mobiles redefine customer engagement actions?
In this mobile era, customers are no longer restricted to any geographical boundaries and even retailers can reach them wherever they are. Modern customers have flexibility to access a plethora of information through their mobiles and are not relying only on physical stores. They have access to all ecommerce websites; can order whatever products they want, compare features of products, read reviews/feedback of products and compare prices across retailers. We at dunnhumby partner with modern retailers in this dynamic environment to help them understand their customers and create strong bonds of loyalty. We understand their customers and based on their purchase behaviours provide them very personalized recommendations on offers, discounts, new arrivals or festive schemes either through SMS or push notifications through Apps. This in turn makes the customer feel valued and more engaged with the retailer.
How mobile technology innovations influences customer science and help business stay ahead of the curve?
The mobile revolution has changed the way businesses interact with customers. Earlier we had apps that were based on ‘Pull’ from customers where they can search for products or compare prices. Now we have ‘Push-based’ apps that anticipate users need and send them notifications based on their preferences and needs. These notifications could be about change in pricing or promotions on relevant products.
Then there are modern technology devices like Beacons that have become popular with retailers. Beacons use Bluetooth to connect with the customers when they are in proximity. When inside the store, based on their current location, customer gets information on all items on discount in his aisle and targeted offers.
Could you throw some light on the current methods that dunnhumby applies to analyse data in retail? What about the future technologies to process data faster?
We are looking at using machine learning to help us consume and process data faster. Machine learning provides us the opportunity to quality assure data and evolve the quality assurance process with iterations. We are using frameworks like ‘Spark’ which gives us the flexibility of multi-threading, among other things. Our focus is not only to process the data faster but also integrate data from multiple sources to get a better view of our customers.
Can you provide some examples of advanced analytics in action and the role played by India and India dunnhumby team in innovating in this space?
Innovation and application of advanced analytics sit at the centre of dunnhumby’s philosophy to cater best data driven insights to our clients and dunnhumby India also plays a pivotal role in this. Whether it is enabling machines to build our customer level models in an automated fashion or implementing cutting edge techniques to serve a consulting project, India teams have been innovating in all the spheres and playing critical role. XGBoost, Random Forests, Light GBM and NMF are few examples of latest techniques we are using and the vision is to move towards deep learning techniques like LSTMs and RNNs etc. in near future.
The solutions we offer have evolved overtime with analytical offerings, scientific techniques and platforms and have an unparalleled history of driving transformational results for our clients. We are quite uniquely placed in this space with our integrated systems around data management, pure-play analytics & automated products, which offer us a competitive edge providing customer data science.