by Alex Jarett
Insight Two: Invest in a robust Data Access Layer to provide the ability to quickly create great customer experiences with new apps, new technologies, and new experiences.
Grant: Explain your decision on how you handle the data access layer between your systems and your customers.
Abdur: You know if you were to change rapidly and bring new concepts, new ideas, test, iterate on that, and ultimately come to a solution that the customer is going to embrace and like, there are some foundations that need to be in place.
The way Crate and Barrel has done is implemented an API layer. We looked at different vendors for that. But at the end we brought it together ourselves.
The API layer … means product information is readily available, customer information, and order information. … We got all that up and running pretty quickly actually ourselves hosted on AWS, so the other issue was access and security.
So we thought okay let’s host it on AWS. We created our own Virtual Private Cloud with key access so you would have a key and a password to to get access to that layer. And then the interface you put on it …. (gave us) endless opportunities ranging from apps you know, to web apps these days that Google has come up with, web browsers, mobile browsers, anything you want to put on it.
So that way it became a whole lot easier for us to test parts to get customer responses, and to move from one test to another in a relatively short period of time. One of the things we also did during this time frame was to talk to a small set of startups.
Cloud tags is one of them and they are based out of California what they have is a is a mobile tote.
So you go around the store you scan, scan, scan and then take that they have an android based device take it to the cashier and say this is my I.D. check me out. It was very easy for them to integrate their app into our ecosystem by just plugging into our API layer. So we didn’t have anything to do with it was a very easy test.
James: I like to think of the data access layer sort of a catalyst for creating a conversation between your customer base and your engineering team. It … (is) probably the most critical tool that we use… …over the years this whole idea of a data access layer and an application layer has developed in a way that makes it possible for people to come together at the same table with vastly different objectives and create something together to solve a problem. …So it’s like a mirror to me…You have business people and your business community trying to engineer processes and then on the other hand you have your engineers trying to engineer software solutions, and with a strong data access layer and strong application layer they can communicate together.
That’s really the beginning of infrastructure ….When Grant and I talked I just really told him how transformational it was for us building a really strong data access layer at Magellan.
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