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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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Anticipating the Customer Experience for the Connected Enterprise

hands holding up letters spell out customer

Today’s customer is highly informed and interacts unconditionally with brands across multiple touch points demanding a superior customer experience. With increasing customer expectations and organizational silos within a retail enterprise, there’s a greater need to create a connected enterprise to anticipate and deliver an unparalleled customer experience.

We constantly hear about how the adoption of analytics has been slow. However, to instill a more dynamic enterprise to meet and exceed the customer’s expectations, retailers are now embracing the need to move to the furthest extreme of the BI maturity model—predictive analytics.

Anticipate the Action

Retailers have the advantage …

Simple Predictive Finance—Everything Is Profit and Loss

dollar amounts in columns on paper currency

As I mentioned in my last blog, Simple Predictive Finance: Why the Dream Is a Reality, the finance function is transforming with advances in technology and predictive tools. There are several key points that I believe can help people better understand the context of predictive finance. I covered the first two (simplicity and the path to governed data discovery) last week. Today, we’ll cover a couple more.

The Mission Is Margin Improvements

Everything in any given organization is profit and loss. From the top floor to the show floor, people will have to understand their contribution to …

5 More Reasons Why More Data Doesn’t Guarantee Better Decisions

group studies data at table

In my last blog, I discussed 5 reasons why more data doesn’t guarantee better decisions. I had picked what I considered my top five from a long list of reasons. I must have hit a nerve with our readers because the response has been tremendous. So today I’ve incorporated some of that feedback into this list of five more reasons why, with all this data, better decisions aren’t guaranteed.

1. When It Comes to Data, Quality Comes Before Quantity

We seem to take quality for granted. As we continue to evolve as a society with rapid and …

Transform Your Future with Predictive Analytics

predictive analytics on digital tablet

We’ve all experienced some form of predictive analytics in our day-to-day lives – each time we check the seven-day weather forecast or price airline tickets for a future trip. And while we’ve become accustomed to this technology in our daily lives, how many businesses take advantage of this power to anticipate the future?

According to a best-practices report by The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI), “Predictive Analytics for Business Advantage,” not many: Only about 20% of organizations surveyed report having some predictive analytics activity already under way.

That’s not to say companies are completely in the dark. According to a …

Simple Predictive Finance: Why the Dream Is a Reality

future target with arrows in bulls eye

For a couple decades, there was a quote about prediction that everyone seemed to jump on, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” This not very provocative sentence from the first half of the 20th century (by Physics Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr) was popular for good reason. How could you possibly be able to predict anything except death and taxes? (Another famous quote, but I won’t go there…)

Where I live, people may not even listen to the weather forecast, since it doesn’t have a great impact if you’re expecting 95 or 97 degrees in Central Texas …

5 Reasons Why More Data Doesn’t Guarantee Better Decisions

business intelligence team studies paper and laptop

Data alone may not be enough to guarantee better decisions, but better decisions almost always start with data. Just capturing and storing data will not get us far. Disconnected and fragmented data can’t paint a complete picture because different segments linger in a detached state or in isolated buckets. Left disintegrated, they lack the necessary transformations to be turned into cohesive and compatible building blocks.

With all this data, why is it that we continue to make bad business decisions? I was asked this question the most in the business intelligence course I taught for a doctorate program.

Upping Your Analytics IQ

empower graphic

As the data explosion and technology disruptions continue and analytics become pervasive in every job, many organizations are reviewing analytic skills and aptitudes in new hires. They‘re also looking into how to help existing employees upgrade their analytic skills.

New titles are abounding. At the executive level we have Chief Analytics Officers and Chief Data Scientists. In the middle, traditional Business Analyst and KPI Analyst roles continue to exist, but are complemented by more informal, and playful, titles like “Data Diva” or “Data Savant.”

Not everyone needs to be a data scientist, but every employee should be analytically curious …

Agile Visualization: Ignore the Buzz at Your Own Peril

agile visualizations image-iPad-

The idea of self-service business intelligence (BI) being at the core of the BI promise (to transform raw data into meaningful and useful information for business purposes) is now back at the top of the BI industry headlines. Should you ignore the buzz and just go on with your business? You shouldn’t.

First, let’s get the semantics out of the way – self service is an approach to BI that lets business users access and work with corporate information without the IT department’s involvement. For the most part, people agree with the two …

5 Ways To Drive Value with BI Proof of Concepts

Proof of concepts (POC) specifically designed for business intelligence (BI) projects can be invaluable because they can help to mitigate or eliminate the risks associated with requirements whether we’re working with a new BI technology, asset, or data source.

POCs (sometimes referred to as proof of principle) may be presented with slightly varying interpretations in different areas of business and technology. However, a BI POC attempts to validate a proposed solution that may cover one or more layers of the BI spectrum through a demonstration with a small number of users.

There are many reasons why a BI …

Self-Service BI: Let Your Users Lead but Keep an Eye on Them

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-child-climbing-fence-trying-to-climb-sport-playground-image37914103

When I take my little boy for a stroll in the park, I like observing how small, growing children interact with adults. You can tell the different parenting styles: the protective mum that isolates her children from others, the one who just lets them be but keeps an eye on them at all times, and the one that has no idea where her kids are but relies on the playground fence—she knows they won’t be able to go very far.

Governing self-service business intelligence (BI) is a bit like being a parent of a child that has grown fast …