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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.


Social Media – A Double-Edged Sword for Corporations!

Just recently, I noticed a couple of similar social media posts by friends. They echoed the same sentiment —extreme irritation at bad customer service by a large airline, which is notorious for its lack of attention to its passengers. Ironically, my friends were flying first class on the occasions they were mistreated.

Their accounts reminded me of a similar bad experience I had with the same airline. I looked up J. D. Power’s customer satisfaction rankings of North American airline companies, and sure enough, found our antagonists languishing near the bottom.

Social media is a great leveler—it enables the …

Analytics and Innovation Make a Difference for a Nonprofit

City Year

We often associate the use of analytics with running a successful corporation, but the truth is, its use goes way beyond that. Analytics is now increasingly playing a role in sports (Super Bowl, soccer, tennis), in the public sector and politics, and at nonprofit organizations.

City Year: Helping Students and Schools

City Year is a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes young adults to serve as full-time tutors, mentors, and role models in many of the nation’s highest …

This Hidden Business Blunder Cost Star Wars Makers $7B. Here’s How to Avoid It

Social business

In 1973, George Lucas approached 20th Century Fox Studios with the idea for Star Wars. It was going to be his next film after American Graffiti, which had been a big hit earlier that year. Lucas was up for a large raise for his directing services. Lucas had been paid $150,000 for American Graffiti, and because of its success, he could now demand $500,000.

Lucas knew what his services were worth, but he had a twist in mind. Instead of asking for the full $500,000 directing fee, he offered a discount: $350,000 off …

Subtlety, Complexity, and the Future of Retail

Subtlety, Complexity, and the Future of Retail

Why is the future so difficult to predict? It is easy enough to jot down a few paragraphs on a given future topic, say the future of the retail industry and the impact that big data will have on it, but it is very difficult to have any assurance that those projections will map to anything that actually happens. Part of the problem is that we tend to see the future as an exaggerated version of the present rather than a world in which fundamental changes have occurred.

There is an old story in futurist circles, probably apocryphal, about a …

Now You’ve Defined Your Incentive Plans, There’s One More Thing You Have To Do

Now You've Defined Your Incentive Plans, There's One More Thing You Have To Do

It’s the start of the year, and organizations around the world are holding kickoff meetings in order to explain new incentive systems to their employees.

These plans are typically the result of many months of painful negotiations, as corporate stakeholders debate the perfect set of incentives to support the organization’s strategy.

But every system of incentives inevitably opens up the possibility of dysfunctional behavior. Not necessarily because employees are corrupt, but because they feel pressured to “meet the numbers” – and because daring to question the value of corporate KPIs is actively discouraged.

Dysfunctional behavior is just as predictable as …

Surveys Generate Data But Don’t Necessarily Replace Hard Data

Surveys Generate Data But Don't Necessarily Replace Hard Data

Surveys, questionnaires, and polls generate data, but survey data and hard data aren’t the same thing. I often see them treated in the same light in the context of answering business questions or delivering actionable insight, and with equal zeal and qualification. But there are definite differences.

Understanding the difference between data collected from surveys vs. data generated from transactions or operations is crucial. It will help us find the relevant answers to our questions and also save us a lot of time and money in the process.

There’s a science and methodology to developing effective surveys. Design and data …

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 …

How SMEs Are Using Analytics To Compete in 2013

How SMEs Are Using Analytics To Compete in 2013

Recently, the analysis firm Oxford Economics carried out a significant research project into how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) go about building customer relationships, improving agility, and expanding their businesses. Called SMEs: Equipped to Compete, the survey came out with four key findings. I recently discussed the impacts of the findings with Colin White in this video.

In case you missed it, here’s a summary of what the survey found.

SMEs Are Adopting a Global Mindset

One-third of those interviewed said global expansion was a growth driver, one-half of them are collaborating with …

Going Social with Workforce Analytics

In 2009, Infohrm (now SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics and Planning) published a survey entitled “Workforce Analytics: Creating a Discipline of Data-Driven Decisions”. The study found that, of the 200+ participants, only 4% of organizations said that line managers view workforce analytics of “high importance.”

No definitive root cause of this lack of interest was identified, but potential reasons included the limited availability of integrated data (talent, financial, operational) and the lack of a clear process for delivering analytics at the point of decisions.

More recently, a article, HR Departments Invaded by Data Scientists, opens …

Sexy Numerals: “3″ Reasons To Share Numbers in your Enterprise Social Network

Sexy Numerals: "3" Reasons To Share Numbers in your Enterprise Social Network

Ever noticed how many headlines on the Web have numbers in them? If you look at lists of the most popular articles on social sites like Buzzfeed —or even more traditional sites like Forbes —it’s not unusual to see more than half of them feature a number.

Editors and authors have no doubt discovered, either by design or by happy coincidence, that including numerals attracts more clicks. Do a Google search for numbers, headlines, and clicks, and you’ll discover reams of articles touting the eye-catching characteristics of digits.

If you work with numbers of …