Someone had to do it, sooner or later. The "someone" was none other than SAP AG, and ACNielsen U.S. The "it" is connecting point-of-sale information at the checkout counter with the supply chain, so that consumer-goods companies can more accurately forecast, analyze, and respond to consumer demand. Specifically, SAP, the enterprise applications software giant based in Walldorf, Germany, will combine its Business Information Warehouse with ACNielsen's retail information services, including its Scantrack data system, which captures point-of-sale information from retail channels. Ultimately, such a tight linkage of information flows could enable retailers to move closer to a "pull" system of manufacturing, with smaller inventories. Colgate-Palmolive Co. is the first customer to try the combined SAP-Nielsen retail information system, which will be generally available sometime next quarter, according to SAP. "Our ability to address and exploit ... business opportunities requires an integrated enterprise data warehousing strategy that combines the internal data from our SAP R/3 system with external market information from ACNielsen," says Marybeth O'Donnell, director of demand and commercial business systems at Colgate-Palmolive in New York.