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Nike vows better data use as digital sales slump

Firm is hunting for a "special" distinguished engineer to help run strategy and architecture from cloud to edge.

Nike shares tumbled this week after sales fell sharply across digital channels – with the company promising to further optimise “demand sensing, leveraging data and insights”, amid pressure from upstart rivals.

Nike Digital sales cratered 10% in the quarter – having grown 26% since fiscal 2019. Total 2024 revenues at $51.4 billion were flat year-on-year and the company warned “the next few quarters will be challenging.”

Nike blamed “meaningful shifts in consumer traffic” in key markets and foreign exchange headwinds. It is tightening its focus on sport over leisure, it said, amid pressure from upstart firms like On and Hoka

The company recently hired a new Chief Technology Officer, Amazon veteran Dr Muge Erdirik Dogan, and in May 2024 also appointed its first Chief Data and AI Officer, The Stack can reveal – with Oracle veteran Alan John joining in the wake of a recent company-wide restructuring. 

A $2 billion cost-cutting overhaul has seen the company pull spending out of its technology function, it admitted in an earnings call late Thursday – and CFO Matthew Friend said Nike was managing “expenses tightly.”

“We have unlocked savings from initiatives up and down our P&L and across our value chain from reducing small parcel fulfillment costs to consolidating suppliers, optimizing technology spend, and restructuring our organization to streamline layers and support functions” he added.

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Nike has been working on a huge ERP migration in recent years as it looks to optimise how it manages supplies. CFO Matt Friend described that in September 2023 as “our largest investment in transformation of our supply chain and enabling us to operate like a retailer” although the project is rumoured to be both delayed and heavily over-budget. 

Friend however said late last year that Nike was “implementing our ERP in North America. We went live with our retail business in the first quarter, and everything has gone well. And we're focused on bringing the second part of our North America business, the wholesale side of our North America business online and our new ERP later this year” he added on a call.

The company has not mentioned progress since. Nike’s engineering site, which showcases some innovative open-source projects from its team, has not updated a once-regular blog since approximately 2019. 

Nike currently has 13 technology jobs open, seven in Oregon, six in India. These include one for a distinguished engineer to lead “strategy, architecture and implementation of innovative cloud, edge, and network solutions that are scalable, resilient, and efficient” the company said. 

It particularly wants someone who can “work closely with other departments to proactively ensure cloud engineering capabilities are capable of handling emerging and future business requirements.”