Outsourcing of business intelligence is very difficult to pull off successfully. I've seen it tried, but with little success. The first reason is that true BI is very business-focused and requires many, if not most, of the team to understand and work towards the business objectives. While there is a place for heads-down coding in BI, with the tools available today, that is minimized. Successful BI is much less a technical exercise than it is a business exercise.
The second reason is that the rate of change with BI projects is high and it is subtle. The outsourcing party needs to be very flexible and have systems in place for change control that are not onerous. Such systems are difficult to put in place across country boundaries.
I can't comment on specific retailer BI programs, but yes, retailers do this as much as any industry...which is not much.
For more information, check out searchCRM's Best Web Links on Outsourcing Options/ASPs.
This was first published in October 2001