Bill Groves, Chief Data Officer at Walmart

Bill Groves, Chief Data Officer at Walmart

Q: What do you like most about being part of the conference? 

A: It is great to share our ideas and what we’re doing from a CDO perspective. It has also been nice to see everybody else faces some of the same challenges that you run into in this role, based around the things we try to do from an organizational standpoint. 

Q: What do you think data analytics will provide to companies 5-10 years from now, in terms of a competitive advantage? 

A: In my opinion, a company’s data  is one of its true competitive advantages because the data itself is a proprietary asset. When you look at the analytics, without the data the science doesn’t work. The way I see data changing the global business landscape is, everyone is on a journey from “What did you do today?” to augmented decisions as well as automated actions. Every company is somewhere along that life cycle and [data analytics] frees up resources to do other things that the company needs. At Walmart, we utilize data and analytics to figure out resources to be a more efficient business. Everything we do today will be done differently within the next 5-10 years.

Q: When you think about your career at Walmart, what are a couple of things you take great pride in and believe made a difference? 

A: On a personal level, one of the things I’ve seen since I’ve been at Walmart is how much they do for others in their local communities. On a science and analytics level, pretty much every decision — when it comes to store and product placement decisions — is data driven behind the scenes. Supply chain, merchandising and price are all data and analytics driven. It’s a huge orchestration. Specifically, we do not bend on everyday low prices. Walmart does not partake in predatory pricing. Additionally, we provide better customer service every day based on data and analytics decisions. In general, I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done in the past year. 

Q: If Sam Walton were here today, what would be the one or two things about which he would say, “I am so glad we do this!” 

A: Two things: Sam Walton was always about the community, and we continue to be through our day-to-day activities. The second thing is disruption. He drove change. We continue to do that within our industry, and Sam would encourage more of that. We try to do things differently in a better and cheaper way than our industry competitors. Our goal is for our customers to save money and save time. There are a lot of people that are strapped on time, so we make that a priority goal through initiatives such as online grocery pickup and online grocery delivery. I think Sam Walton would like that because it provides people more time to spend with their families and friends.  

Q: In the next 24 months, if there was a stake put in the ground that indicated Walmart was headed in THAT direction in data and analytics, what would that be?

 A: I would say the customer journey and the customer experience. Using data and analytics to improve them along the way while ensuring trust is the journey we’re on. Providing the right products in the right place at the right time customers want is a big thing. The true magic is bringing together our large e-commerce business and large-store business for customers.