NRF: ARTS Hits Its Stride
By Bill Bittner, President,
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.
- ARTS Announces Release of Version
6.0 of the Standard Retail Data Model – NRF news
- ARTS – Association for Retail Technology
Standards – website