USPS tries data mart technology to help maintain sales, inventory info

The Postal Service is testing a retail data mart that will help post offices track
their sales and decide what items to stock.

The data mart will use information gathered by the service’s Point of Sale One

The POS ONE systems record sales at individual post offices. USPS officials said the
data mart will let the service mine data in new ways.

For instance, the data mart can tell each post office the best product mix based on
past sales, the changes from this year to last for specific products, and the best- and
worst-selling stamps for this month and last, said Steven Youngblood, assistant program
manager for the service’s POS ONE Program Office.

For now, only a few beta users at headquarters can access the pilot version, which the
service is conducting from its McLean, Va., offices, Youngblood said.

The service in October installed a production version of the data mart at its
Minneapolis data center and will over the next two months move the beta users to that
system, Youngblood said.

The data mart, which releases the POS ONE data in an Oracle8 Release 5 database
management system, is hosted on a cluster of Sun Microsystems Enterprise 6500 servers
running SunSoft Solaris.

To cull the data from POS ONE systems and dump it in the DBMS, the Postal Service uses
Powermart Suite 4.0 from Informatica Corp. of Palo Alto, Calif.

The beta users query the database with the Decision Support Software Agent from
MicroStrategy Inc. of Vienna, Va. Users can choose to be alerted when certain parameters
are met.

The alerts arrive via e-mail or by telephone or pager using MicroStrategy’s DSS

For example, the data mart could page you when your program goes over budget, said
Robert Silverman, vice president of MicroStrategy’s government solutions group.

The Postal Service has not tried all of the features yet, Youngblood said.

USPS is using the data mart technology strictly for domestic retail, but it plans to
build several kinds of data marts, Youngblood said.   


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