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The Decision Factor offers insightful comments and observations on analytics—from views on new technology approaches and market dynamics to the latest industry trends driving demand for faster, smarter information analysis. This blog contains personal views, thoughts, and opinions from SAP employees, mentors, and friends working in the area of analytics. It’s not endorsed by SAP nor does it constitute an official communication of SAP.

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Part One: Addressing the Fundamentals Is Top Priority within Finance

round_conference_table_274994

In the opening blog for my new series on the technology imperative for financial planning and analysis, I will address two points that apply to most companies:

Thinking they are behind the technology wave and Dealing with more fundamental issues

The simple fact is that, despite the plethora of stories about emerging software technologies and applications, most companies are dealing with more fundamental problems that need to be addressed in order to survive and thrive, regardless of the technology employed.

Shaping the Finance Function of Tomorrow: 2013, …

Serving a New Generation of Consumers with Predictive Analytics

woman pushes shopping cart in grocery store

Consumers today are savvy, fickle, and demanding. They want to be associated with brands that are relevant and compelling. With the evolution of social media, today’s global marketplace trends to proliferate at the speed of light for both positive and negative consumer sentiment.

So, how do consumer products companies stay profitable in these challenging times? The answer is by aligning every aspect of their operations to the end customer—the consumer. Enter predictive analytics, which is gaining demand in this industry to keep up with the competition.

Improve Consumer Loyalty and Acquisition with Predictive Analytics

Consumer products companies are now developing …

5 Sure Ways to Improve Your Mobile BI Solutions

workers sit around a conference table

Although more and more organizations implement mobile business intelligence (BI) solutions, they can be intimidating to some businesses, particularly those who have challenges with their existing mobile BI solutions. The good news is that making mobile BI solutions a success doesn’t have to be agonizing.

There are several investments that can tremendously benefit any mobile BI engagement. These investments typically don’t require significant additional resources. And almost any team, regardless of their size or budget, can leverage them with a little discipline and a willingness to innovate.

Almost all mobile BI engagements use adoption as one of the key …

How Do We Transform Finance to Cope with Constant Change? One Word—Collaboration!

happy coworkers gather around table

This blog originally appeared on the CFO Knowledge blog and has been republished with permission.

Throughout my ten-part-blog series, I have been discussing how CFOs can use new technologies to help leverage the finance team in providing greater organizational value. In the capstone summary, I also wanted to note that underlying each of the changes discussed is a theme of greater collaboration.

In many ways, technology is enabling this collaboration. But your speed of adoption will increase if you start with a spirit of collaboration before any implementation begins.

A strong CFO …

What Should Auditors Audit?

monitoring risk and control

In the past, auditors were famous for finding problems. They audited a process, business unit, or location and found “weaknesses” in internal control. These were then prioritized based on the auditors’ assessment of the risk they represented.

These days, leading internal audit teams are moving from this idea of auditing controls, sometimes called controls assurance, to auditing whether management’s processes, systems, and organization (which include controls) provide reasonable assurance that risks are at acceptable levels.

They are moving from controls assurance to risk assurance.

They are also moving from auditing the past (hindsight) to providing insight on current activities and …

GRC and Golf: Games of Honor

golf ball lies at edge of hole

I was sitting in my backyard yesterday, which overlooks a golf course in Anthem, Arizona, and my mind was wandering as I thought about the topic for my next blog. Just for the fun of it, I thought about some key aspects of golf that might be applicable to governance, risk, and compliance. If you are a golfer, you’ve probably heard some of this before—but I’m guessing you’ve never heard this applied to GRC.

Perhaps the US Golf Association (USGA) says it best in an excerpt from The Human Element:

“Golf is …

BI Self Service: Out of the Shadow and into the Limelight

flashlight brightens the shadows

A key issue that arises in nearly every business intelligence (BI) strategy assessment workshop I’ve conducted is “Shadow BI,” or decentralized and mostly unguided user development. Shadow BI is usually viewed by central BI teams as a negative, and for good cause—it’s uncontrolled development that often creates more data silos and data chaos, report proliferation, performance issues, and other ills.

But Shadow BI exists for a reason—users aren’t getting their needs met. Rather than fight Shadow BI, central IT organizations need to embrace, enable, and integrate it into their overall self-service BI strategy, and then leverages it for innovation …

Simple Predictive Finance—The Power of Storytelling and the War for Talent

young people learning together

In this blog series, I’ve covered some of the key points that I believe can help people better understand the context of predictive finance (see Simple Predictive Finance: Why the Dream Is a Reality and Simple Predictive Finance— Everything Is Profit and Loss). Today, I want to discuss the role of visualizations and the importance of analytics training in finance education.

Utilize Visualizations to Tell the Numbers’ Story

The human brain works …

Is Business Continuity a Separate Activity?

coworkers at a table smiling

During a recent breakfast event, I was having a coffee with two security managers who were in charge of business continuity for their organizations: one was from the IT department and the other one was a business operations manager.

The questions of our debate revolved around were: Who should be the most significant contributor to business continuity activities and should continuity management be a separate activity?

Interestingly, we all agreed that we saw more and more business continuity management reaching outside IT domain where it historically focused on IT disaster recovery planning and information security to a more business-process …

Is Your House in Order?

blueprint for enterprise archi

I recently took on the daunting task of a major kitchen renovation and believe it or not, that got me thinking about enterprise architecture (EA). Really! A major renovation requires a keen and accurate understanding of how things work together today, where all the components reside (appliances, water supply, electrical), how efficiently things work together, and how proposed changes to the infrastructure will impact the current configuration (aka: architecture).

To me, and many of my customers, that’s a common approach to the project of creating an integrated enterprise architecture.

But how you go about constructing your EA will make …