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Brooks Running Slalom data serving runners

When Brooks Running wanted to better serve its customers around the world, we helped it deliver the right shoes to the right runners, faster.

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Brooks Running’s new, ultra high-tech Seattle headquarters is so cutting edge it tells you in real time how much energy its employees are using and even collects rainwater for use in its restrooms.

Those are pretty neat tricks, but serious runners should probably be more excited about another, less visible upgrade: The company’s new enterprise data warehouse. After all, it’s that behind-the-scenes technology that makes it easier for Brooks to ensure that your favorite pink women’s Adrenaline GTS shoes are available, in a size seven, in time for that long weekend run you were planning.

The new data technology, like its headquarters, is all part of Brooks’ plans to grow annual sales from $550 million to $1 billion. To do that, Brooks Chief Financial Officer John Rangel said the company realized it needed to very deeply understand the habits and buying preferences of its customers, so it could keep up with consumers’ growing demand for instant gratification.

“Things are changing pretty dramatically with (the expansion of) digital,” Rangel said. “At the end of the day, the (runner) is ultimately in charge.”

Brooks, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, worked with Slalom to develop a new enterprise data warehouse that would allow even non-tech savvy employees to get detailed information about the company, and share it in a visual way. The move comes as more companies are seeing the advantage of not just collecting vast amounts of big data, but also using it to get a more nuanced understanding of their customers and their business.

“Big data in and of itself doesn’t do anything,” said Joe Berg, a managing director with Slalom’s information management practice. “It’s now about the analytics you can get out of it.”

Using data to better serve customers

In Brooks’ case, the new system allows the company to easily gather and ultimately access and share details such as how many red Infiniti running jackets a particular retailer sold last month, and in what sizes, or where in the country the company is most likely to find fans of its Ghost 7s or its Glycerin 12s.

Brooks’ new system also will let the premium running company quickly look at the relationships between sales, inventory, and supply chain data to help its retailers gain a growing competitive advantage.

The system can even gather information from the sporting goods stores that sell Brooks shoes, so the company’s sales teams can make sure those stores are stocking the exact products their running enthusiasts will want—and aren’t stocking things that don’t sell well.

“They can go in armed with information,” said Harlan Smith, a solution principal with Slalom who worked on the project.

Ultimately, the new data systems are intended to help Brooks make better, more data-driven forecasting decisions about its future growth.

“This is the foundation work,” said Brian Jones, the company’s business intelligence manager.

Those are important tools for the company’s booming U.S. business, and they also are key to Brooks’ aggressive plans to expand its international business in Europe and elsewhere.

“We’re setting them up, literally, for their future,” said Sharon Lynch, a practice area director with Slalom.

The new data analysis also is expected to give Brooks a more detailed understanding of the serious runners who buy shoes and other equipment from Brooks. Rangel said that’s especially important as more and more customers are buying shoes and other gear online, instead of in a traditional shoe store, and aren’t necessarily interacting with a sales person.

“We want to know our customer—the runner. We want to be in position to talk to them, to have a more personalized relationship with them,” Rangel said.

About Brooks Running Co.

Brooks Running Company designs and markets running-specific performance footwear, apparel, and accessories in more than 60 countries worldwide. Brooks’ mission is to inspire everyone to run and be active by creating innovative gear that keeps them running longer, farther, and faster. Brooks’ mission is supported by its Run Happy philosophy, a quest to celebrate and champion the sport of running and all runners everywhere. Founded 1914, Brooks is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and is headquartered in Seattle.

Before Brooks was synonymous with serious running, it was known for making gear for everything from swimming to football. The company traces its root back more than a century, to a Philadelphia firm called Quaker Shoe Company that made ballet slippers and women’s bathing shoes.

Over the decades, Brooks went through many iterations of making sportswear and equipment, eventually deciding in 2001 to focus just on performance running.

It was a smart decision that has led to more than a decade of strong growth, and that is showing no sign of slowing. Brooks, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, has set its sights on becoming a billion-dollar running powerhouse.

Brooks recently moved into its cutting-edge Seattle headquarters building. Naturally, there’s a running trail right outside the front door.

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