Woolworths embarks on data mining project

The Woolworths chain has embarked on a data warehousing project that will capture and mine data generated by its 76 stores. The $1.5 billion company, which manages Big Fresh, Price Chopper and Woolworths stores, plans to make better use of its operational transaction data to improve decision-making and to model 'what if' scenarios, says IT director Graeme Cox.

The Woolworths chain has embarked on a data warehousing project that will capture and mine data generated by its 76 stores.

The $1.5 billion company, which manages Big Fresh, Price Chopper and Woolworths stores, plans to make better use of its operational transaction data to improve decision-making and to model "what if" scenarios, says IT director Graeme Cox. In the past, Woolworths has been prevented from doing this because the volume of data, combined with mainframe access, made the process slow. Queries had to be submitted to the IT department, which would have to write a program to run the report.

"The business benefits of being able to monitor, for example, the exact effect of a promotion, are massive," Cox says.

Phase one of the project, the implementation of a 250Gb data warehouse on Informix Dynamic Server, will be completed in May. Initially access will be via a local area network, with phase two extending access nationwide. Phase two will see Woolworths input two years of sales history. Sales information will download to the data warehouse in Manukau City by 11pm each night. POS information will go directly from the till to the database.

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