My wife thought it was strange that I got excited when I looked at the cash register receipt as we left the shoe store. Usually a receipt is the beginning of a discussion about why we spent more than we planned, but in this case it was different.
“Look,” I said, “This is neat. A portion of the $10 coupon that we used has been assigned to each of the two pairs of shoes.”
“Why is that neat?” she asked.
Taking the rare opportunity brought about by her interest in my fixation with data, I continued to explain that one of the challenges in BI was allocating costs down to the lowest level. People want to see margin at the product level, but that can be hard to calculate when costs (or discounts) are assigned at a higher level. Often, it is tough to pin down the business rules needed to do the allocation.
This shoe store chain solved the problem. The business rule was determined and applied right at the point of sale. Any downstream system, including a data warehouse, would have this information. Problem solved.
I had a good afternoon. Two new pairs of shoes and a little BI happiness to go along.