Home improvement retailer The Home Depot has an e-business infrastructure that serves more than 1,300 stores, 300,000 associates, millions of customers and integrates with more than 45,000 business partners.
But, as is the case with many retailers with a large footprint, that infrastructure is made up of many systems and applications which don't necessarily integrate with each other all that well.
Enter IBM Corp. Home Depot Monday said it will use IBM's WebSphere application server platform as the foundation of a new IT system to knit together those disparate systems into a more easily manage whole, while also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain and providing associates access to critical business information. Additionally, Home Depot said the increase in efficiency will enhance customer service.
"Like everybody else, we had disparate systems for the longest time and we were looking for someone to put all these tools under one bucket," said Home Depot spokesman Don Harrison.
The company said WebSphere will allow it to more efficiently handle millions of customer orders, replenishment orders, vendor invoices and other business transactions.
Seeking customer service upgrades
The company is especially looking at its fast-growing business in customized services for carpeting, kitchen remodels and similar home improvement projects, where it hopes WebSphere will be able to improve customer service through its ability to accommodate large numbers of transactions across disparate computing platforms. Home Depot said a more automated process for customer special order creation and management will replace its current less-integrated business processes.
"Our [Information Systems] team is constantly challenged to provide business applications that can process high transaction volumes with quick response times," said Mike Anderson, vice president of Information Systems at Home Depot. "Through our analysis of the leading Web application servers on the market, we felt that WebSphere would provide us the ability to meet these needs. And with well over 9,000 software vendors choosing WebSphere for their run-time application server, we know we are investing in an industry standard."
Home Depot also plans to utilize the DB2 database software and DB2 Connect to provide access from its high-volume transactions servers to many terabytes of operational data.
In addition, the company will use IBM VisualAge Enterprise suite -- a toolkit for building WebSphere applications -- to speed delivery of custom business applications and third-party software integration.
"In terms of efficiencies, essentially what we have here is a one-stop shop," Harrison said. "You don't need as many people to manage it. It's almost retailing 101."
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