NRF: ARTS Hits Its Stride

Jan 14, 2009

By Bill Bittner, President,
BWH Consulting

The Association of Retail
Technology Standards has been around for 15 years, but it has taken the
push towards Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Software as a Service
(SaaS) to really bring the benefits of ARTS to the forefront.

At this week’s NRF Conference,
ARTS announced the latest release of its data model, a new ARTS data dictionary,
and a new release of the ARTS SOA Blueprint. They also received praise
from retail members El Corte Ingle’s, Big Lots, and BJ’s Wholesale Club
who explained how the various ARTS tools have helped them implement technology.

In addition to the standards,
ARTS has also developed templates for conducting software product reviews
for applications that address Point of Sale, Work Force Management, Loss
Prevention, Signature Capture, Warehouse Management, Price Optimization
and Master Data Management. These templates give retailer teams beginning
a new software acquisition or development project the tools they need to
get started. The templates effectively address the “blank slate” syndrome
that can prevent new projects from getting off the ground because the team
members have not had previous experience.

One of the most significant
announcement may have been the SOA Blueprint. As software vendors
embrace the SOA technology, retailers can expect to easily connect software
from different vendors. With the technical challenges solved, the
more complicated challenge of a common business process model becomes the
hurdle. Retailers want to be able to combine the best pricing module
with the assortment planner, warehouse management and replenishment modules
to create the overall business software platform that matches their way
of operating. The ARTS SOA Blueprint provides the framework within
which independent vendors can develop their own solutions so they will
be compatible with other solutions. They avoid overlapping functionality
and disputes over which software “owns” a particular data attribute.

Discussion Questions: How do you
see ARTS tools being beneficial to retail organizations? If you’ve had
experience with the ARTS tools, are there particular tools or processes
you found most useful? How could ARTS be even better?

Author’s comment: One
of the challenges a retail CIO has to deal with is the communication between
the business managers and the technicians in the IT department. I
find the ARTS tools and standards a great way to begin the dialogue. One
of the challenges an ARTS user must understand is that they are not getting
a finished product. The tools are like the par-baked inputs to the
bakery department or primal cuts to the meat department, they are a starting
point. Retailers need to take the ARTS information and evaluate
it against their particular needs and capabilities. It may be necessary
to defer or enhance some areas because they don’t fit in their environment. But
they sure beat starting from scratch.

Keeping the ARTS effort
going requires continued support from its retail members. It is easy
to join, download the projects you need, and then go away. Retailers
need to remain active and offer both personnel and resources to support
the continued enhancement of the ARTS repository. It offers a huge
payback for those who need to start a technology effort.

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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4 Comments on "NRF: ARTS Hits Its Stride"

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David Dorf
13 years 4 months ago

I’ve recently spoken with several retailers that were embarking on projects to define business processes and services. The SOA Blueprint is an excellent resource to jump-start those efforts. If vendors and retailers can standardize on at least the high-level models (where there’s nothing proprietary), then it should make integration easier for everyone. Speaking the same language/terms is a great start.

Oracle is working to align its level 0 and level 1 business models to the ARTS model defined in the blueprint. It would be great if other vendors did the same.

(Note: I am the co-chair of the ARTS SOA Blueprint workteam.)

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
13 years 4 months ago

As a former CIO and a participant in several retail IT integration projects, I am very impressed with the ARTS efforts and wish their guidance and tools had been available back then. Theirs is a huge undertaking, not the least part of which is getting IT vendors and retailers to join up and participate. If you fall into one of those two categories and are not yet making use of the ARTS Blueprint, give yourself a belated Christmas present and try it out. As Bill Bittner advised, you can “join, download the projects you need, and then go away.”

david van horn
david van horn
13 years 4 months ago

ARTS can provide tremendous assistance to its members. The networking opportunity at it’s events allows the members to see how vendors and retailers are looking at problems and how as a community we can build on a common base.

We have been active since the ARTS XML group began and have worked on many of the work teams.

Our company has benefited from the ARTS community and the published works in speeding up integration and development.

Wilson Zorn
Wilson Zorn
13 years 4 months ago

First a disclaimer, I’ve been involved in the work team in ARTS primarily as a “fly on the wall,” learning and preparing.

ARTS presents a great way for the industry to be more agile by creating a common vocabulary and sharing best practices because in so doing, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel but more importantly, we can get people in the industry, both in IT and business (depending on which output we’re talking) up and running more quickly among member organizations utilizing the same approach. We’re talking the kind of efficiencies we all want and that then free us up to spend more time on those “special” and proprietary items in our own organizations that allow us to pursue competitive advantage.

But ARTS can’t do it without member organizations, and member organizations all receive greater benefit the more others join AND leverage the same best and common (non-competitive advantage) practices.


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