WalMart IT Infrastructure

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Master's October 2001

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As Kevin Turner says, what makes companies successful in the long run is their ability to adapt to change as the world around them demands. Many failed companies and infrastructures collapse when they are confronted with the reality that the must revolve around the market and the customer experience, and not vice versa.

Kevin Turner has been very involved in WalMart's Retail Link system, which is a company extranet that is used by WalMart to connect some 10,000 suppliers with WalMart buyers. The system is used by over 30,000 people daily. What distinguishes Kevin Turner's, and ultimately WalMart's, approach to IT infrastructure (an consequently has resulted in making the company a supply-chain success story) is an aggressive commitment to a measurable return on investment. The company uses its gigantic data warehouse, some 175 terabytes of information, to not only serve its stores and managements needs, but as a checking mechanism for measuring the value new technology adds to the company.

Most of WalMart's systems are successful for many reasons. WalMart tests systems and processes at high-profile WalMart stores, and, if successful, it rolls them out globally to all of its locations. WalMart is very tight-lipped about its IT projects and systems until they are unveiled, which can be attributed to part of the company success. WalMart develops most of its IT solutions in house, and rarely ever uses out-of-the-box systems. This gives the company a sustained competitive advantage over its major competitors by utilizing tailor-made systems to maximize efficiency.

These systems help WalMart to predict the future trends of the retail industry, not only report on past events. It's all part of the big picture of WalMart's IT strategy. Kevin Turner stated, "We don't invent technology, technology invents us."� WalMart uses the technology to get the most beneficial information...