Ulta Beauty and JPMorgan Chase leaders discuss how to partner for AI


The term "partner" is often overused in the technology industry. We partner with cloud providers, we partner with systems integrators, we partner with our customers – and so much more.

But when a genuine partnership comes together to build something complex and successful, you can't deny the importance of that relationship. Leaders from Ulta Beauty and JPMorgan Chase discussed the value of partnering with SAS for AI and digital modernization during the closing panel discussion at SAS Innovate in Orlando.

Igniting innovation through partnerships

"Our partnership with SAS was key," said Adolfo Lopez, VP of Global Technology at JPMorgan Chase, who was hired to support the modernization of a modeling, intelligence and analytics platform that leaders at the company use to analyze business results and support client relationships.

"Our modernization efforts would not have been successful if we hadn't partnered with SAS R&D to discuss restrictions and capabilities within our infrastructure. They took those concerns seriously and worked together for solutions. It was a collaborative success."

While the bank has been a SAS customer since the 1980s, the effort to move 3,000 users on more than a dozen server deployments to the cloud was a daunting proposal.

From left to right: SAS CIO Jay Upchurch, Kelly Mahoney of Ulta Beauty, Adolfo Lopez and Leslie Tanner of JPMorgan Chase

When Lopez's team first began planning its move to a hybrid cloud environment for analytics, he saw that SAS could integrate into its systems with a multi-tenant cloud infrastructure that plays well with others. However, said Lopez, they wanted to go beyond the capabilities that were available in SAS® Viya® 3.5 at the time. So they sat down with the SAS team, built a framework for what they needed, and saw those needs could be met with SAS® Viya® 4.

Jay Upchurch, SAS CIO, who hosted the discussion with JPMorgan Chase and Ulta Beauty leaders, said, "We know sometimes innovation alone is not enough." Seeing how customers are innovating and rising to meet their needs can be the spark that ignites innovation through partnership.

Translating in-store magic to digital channels

Kelly Mahoney, VP of Customer Marketing at Ulta Beauty, expressed similar sentiments about her relationship with SAS. "We have truly partnered with SAS. They have a vast network of clients and knowledge. Immersing and coexisting as one team has been the secret to our success."

Mahoney leads the Ultamate Rewards program, which boasts 40 million members and accounts for 95% of Ulta sales. According to Mahoney, SAS CI360 has helped the retailer move from "batch and blast" to true personalization.

"We have magic that happens in our stores between our associates and customers every day. We have to translate that experience to the digital channel. SAS® CI 360 is helping us do that."

Outpacing tomorrow, together

The benefits of partnering with SAS extend to end users as well. "Working with Viya, we're well positioned for resiliency as an employer as we expand to other cloud platforms," said Leslie Tanner, VP Technical Business Analyst.

"SAS Viya has speed and agility for consumer and user needs," says Lopez. We customized an interface for Leslie's team, so they can go into the interface, modify parameters, push a button, and compute a result in minutes."

And, of course, customers benefit too through the governance and trust capabilities of SAS. "It's your information, and we want to make sure we're taking good care of it," said Tanner.

At Ulta, Mahoney reiterates that customers benefit from the personalized nature of communications from the brand. "We want to own the immersive world of beauty for every consumer. To the extent we can, we need to be on every channel interacting with our customers. We do that through the power of our data. You can't own their heart if you're not authentic and relevant."

SAS CMO Jenn Chase at SAS Innovate

After the panel discussion, CMO Jenn Chase took the stage to echo the message about partnering with SAS. "SAS is here to help you on this journey. Together, we can meet today’s challenges and outpace tomorrow."

Couldn’t make it to Orlando? No problem. SAS Innovate on Tour is hitting the road and coming to cities around the globe. Learn more about the tour!

Lexi Regalado contributed to this post. 

About Author

Alison Bolen

Editor of Blogs and Social Content

Alison Bolen is an editor at SAS, where she writes and edits content about analytics and emerging topics. Since starting at SAS in 1999, Alison has edited print publications, Web sites, e-newsletters, customer success stories and blogs. She has a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and a master’s degree in technical writing from North Carolina State University.

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