We all know where the nearest two branches of Tesco are. Not surprising when there are nearly 7,000 stores worldwide. Tesco are very light on their feet and rapid expansion is part of their business model, thanks in part to the flexibility of their IT systems.
Tesco has long recognised that the crucial role IT plays in the overall efficiency of their business. Simply opening new branches isn’t sustainable – it must be supported by the Intellectual Property (IP) held in their unique applications. It’s essential for successful expansion beyond the UK.
Many organizations spend many years adapting and developing core applications to create a unique business asset. Tesco call theirs Continuous Replenishment (CR). This complex COBOL application runs on a UK-based z/OS IBM mainframe, and the business challenge was to reuse this winning formula to drive growth in new markets, specifically beyond the UK’s borders.
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This was clearly going to be a major undertaking. This is the technology that delivers the competitive edge for the UK’s leading retailer. The application underpins the stores ordering system supporting the day-to-day business operation, and also supports the customer service improvements that are key to the future success of any retailer.
Naturally enough, Tesco wanted to open up this intellectual property and make it more widely available to the rest of the group. Commonly, data centers were based around IBM System p servers running Oracle Retail under AIX. Several options were available to the Tesco team.
The Tesco brief was to create a reusable solution to underpin their global aspirations by effectively extending their operational processes beyond the UK. This had to be delivered within the context of the Tesco mantra to ‘think globally and act locally’ – in other words this while continuing to work within their existing operational structure.
Having considered a number of options, from installing additional UK mainframe capacity to working with a vendor to enhance a current package, Tesco determined that rehosting the CR application to a fit for purpose platform was the quickest, lowest risk and best value way to achieve their goal.
Tesco engaged Micro Focus, the leading provider of COBOL rehost solutions, to assist. Using Enterprise Developer as the COBOL development environment, and Enterprise Server on AIX for deployment, the Tesco IT team, supported by Micro Focus, were demonstrating a working CR system within four months.
The first production implementation went live in July 2007. Initially created to support Tesco operations in Turkey, it was rolled out to support US operations later the same year and has subsequently supported Tesco’s continued expansion into new territories, including China.
Ten years after the first CR implementation, Tesco’s remain a Micro Focus customer and the Enterprise Server rehosted CR application continues to deliver the same business value to their international operations, on different platforms, as the UK-based version.
While every little helps the Tesco customer, the retailer themselves need to think a little bigger. They chose exactly the right partner for the job.