I recently wrote about timely access to data warehouses. There I spoke about the delay between an event occurring and a business reacting to it. I may have given the impression that fast reactions to events are perhaps atypical of retail. Although the norm might be working on figures that are perhaps a week old (and then compare them to last years values) there are some areas where quick reactions are required as shown by a couple of recent examples we implemented.
We have a customer that runs a large exhibition complex, and within that they operate many catering outlets ranging from a coffee points to full service restaurants. Most of the catering staff are trained to work any of the outlets. The customer needed some real-time BI to assess demand at the outlets so staff could be rapidly redeployed between outlets to cope with demand in the venues
Another customer asked us to develop a realtime report to protect them from a specific point of sale scam. The extra validation adds around 2 seconds to a valid PoS transaction, is not noticeable by the customers, but detects and blocks the fraudulent ones. I am particularly pleased with this as it was implemented as a lightweight add-in to a web based EPOS tool; it does just one thing and does it well.