About a decade ago several database and analytics companies began promoting the concepts of data warehousing and data mining. Without going into a full description here, the technologies involved gathering and sifting through large volumes of data to determine otherwise undiscovered patterns, leading to knowledge that could assist the business. Numerous examples of the benefits were described, such as trawling through financial databases to uncover patterns that might indicate fraud. But by far the one that gained the most traction was of how a retailer had managed to analyse sales patterns to drive up the sales of beer by placing it near nappies ... It was a weird example - and one that is most likely apocryphal - but it kick-started an industry that is now reshaping the way that Australian retailers deal with their customers. You can check out the full story here.