Data warehouses only give up their riches when managers start digging into the data to look for patterns of behaviour for analysis. The most famous such account concerns the US supermarket chain which found that most of the nappy buyers on Friday afternoons were men, sent in by their wives on the way home from work. By moving beer supplies closer to the nappy displays, sales of six packs went through the roof.
“Really this should be called information prospecting, because you’re looking for the pot of gold which you suspect is there but you don’t know for certain. Pattern analysis used on the product lifecycle can throw up things which even the business managers don’t know about,” says Sema Group’s director of technical services, Mel Earp.