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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.


Predictive Analytics: The Case, Cause, and Effect — What’s Most Important?

Predictive analytics

Most would agree that every business, in every industry, requires more forward-looking, predictive analysis, giving management a good indication of expected results based on historical patterns that have developed over time. Predictive analytics, a logical extension to traditional business intelligence (BI), achieves what traditional BI was never intended to answer.

The Business Case

Typically, predictive analytics derives from a perceived performance problem in sales, inventory, supply optimization, marketing, etc. However, a reactive approach rarely garners the results that a proactive approach does. So, can’t we simply foresee that we need predictive analytics from past reactive failures?

Sounds ridiculous when posed …

It’s Not Your Grandfather’s Governance

predictive word

I’ve been interacting with a few customers over the last few months, and our core discussions have focused on data governance with respect to the new age of data discovery and predictive modeling. One of the repeated discussions we had was about the gap between the governed and ungoverned, and many of them see that it’s widening. Several of the executives worried about the mainly known perils of ungoverned data discovery, predictive modeling, and ultimately, the applied decisions.

These discussions inspired me to write this blog post. The intent is not to boil the ocean regarding the parts of …

Fraud Attacks Come From Unexpected Places – Can Predictive Analytics Help?

fraud and predictive

Recently, I had a chance to watch one of those old, French cult movies of the 60s from the recently deceased director Georges Lautner (an institution in France) entitled “Ne nous fâchons pas” (Let’s not get angry).

In one scene, the main male character seeks to engage in business with a rich (and wary) heiress. To gain her confidence, he tells her: “People always tend to see gangsters as stocky, dark-haired guys. It’s the silliest prejudice!” To which she answers, “And I have another one for you—they tend to think that a tall, blond woman is inevitably daft… Missed!”

Combining Mobility and Predictive Technologies — Imagine the Possibilities

Examples of the utility offered by mobile devices abound. My typing this blog on a tablet while at the airport is one. In the van on the way to the airport, I also caught up with Twitter and posted a tweet. All good stuff enabled by mobility—yet, there not-so-stellar examples, as well. People texting while they drive, answering phones when they should be turned off, looking at Facebook when they should be doing their homework (that’s for my kids), and on and on. I’m sure you have plenty of examples, too.

So what we have here is the …

Innovative Controlling with Predictive Margin Management


We all know about the “new normal” for today’s chief financial officers (CFOs) from several recent blogs. Recently, I gained some interesting insight into the challenges of a CFO at a forum for financial management in Germany. The focus was about how the CFO can better manage the enablement and the development areas highlighted in the wheel.

Successful CFOs have managed to elevate their positions within their companies to the highest levels, becoming strategic advisors, drivers of initiatives, and business partners to all revenue-enabling organizations. Some of them even become the

Is “Big Data” Just Hype or Is there a Big Opportunity for You?

Big Data

It’s interesting to see how many business and technology editorials, events, and thought leaders are focused on “Big Data.” Is it really as ‘big’ of an opportunity as people think or not?

I say it’s absolutely a BIG opportunity – and the future of your business will depend on it. But it’s only an opportunity if you seek out new possibilities with the data available to you and if you remove all technology constraints you’re so used to dealing with as a business or IT organization.

To get your creative juices going, check out this really interesting site,“

What is Fraud Costing Your Organization?

What is Fraud Costing Your Organization?

How do you respond to fraud in your organization? Can you spot it ahead of time or as it’s happening? Or do you discover it after the fact, when it’s too late to do anything about it?

According to the ACFE’s Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud & Abuse, the typical organization loses 5% of its revenues to fraud each year. Applied to the estimated 2011 Gross World Product, this figure translates to a potential projected global fraud loss of more than $3.5 trillion. A recent headline screams that UK bank fraud was …

Data to Decision: Big Insights vs. Big Data

Data to Decision: Big Insights vs. Big Data

Everyone is talking about “Big Data,” but what they really want are “Big Insights.” To realize significant insights requires an effective analytic strategy.

Many companies believe they have an analytic strategy when what they actually have is an architecture, which is important but certainly not all you need. An analytic strategy requires continuous strategic and tactical business alignment, defining and updating your analytic strategy in view of your business goals and objectives, and analyzing and updating your current analytic roles, analytic skills, business processes and technologies. It also requires governance— data and development— as well as an effective data strategy.

Agile Marketing with Advanced Analytics

Agile Marketing with Advanced Analytics

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Faced with rapid changes in marketing over the last few years, marketers are under increased pressure to be proactive and produce results within shorter time frames. They have to review their plans to meet dynamic market changes. Organizations are handling this pace of change via agile marketing.

Agility is driven by the need to serve end users. It’s about always being relevant and responsive. Developing an iterative marketing plan provides opportunities to review the plan and update it as needed …

Information as an Enterprise Asset — A Lesson from the Airline Industry

Southwest Airlines jet airplane

All you travelers undoubtedly heard about Southwest Airline’s issue in April: A Boeing 737-300 experienced a ripped fuselage shortly after take-off.

As promised in this Seattle Times article, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency directive that now requires operators of certain Boeing 737-300, -400 and -500 models that have accumulated more than 30,000 takeoff-and-landing cycles to conduct electromagnetic inspections for early signs of incipient fatigue damage. Those inspections must be repeated at intervals of not more than 500 cycles.

Imagine the information governance that the FAA, Boeing, and individual airlines must have in …