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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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Daimler Trucks North America Hits the Road to the Cloud

clouds in clear blue sky over Germany

Daimler Trucks North America is the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Chances are you have overtaken one of their trucks (Freightliner, Western Star) or buses (Thomas Built Buses) on a stretch of highway somewhere. Daimler Trucks North America is packed with software innovations—virtual technician, fleet software, on-board tablet, and so on—but its innovation drive just doesn’t end up in its vehicles. Daimler Trucks North America is also reinventing the way it does business after the initial sale by using the cloud and business analytics.

Daimler Trucks North America’s relationship with …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 Read the rest of this entry

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 …

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 …

Mobile BI Design Framework: Performance with a User Focus

coworkers at a table smiling

When we discuss performance in mobile business intelligence (BI), we often talk about two components: response time and availability. I discussed the response time in detail in a previous blog. Today, I want to expand on availability.

Availability is sometimes referred to as “up time,” but it goes beyond that. We need to manage performance with a user focus to make sure our priorities support business execution, not hinder it.

Managing performance of any technical solution is a tricky business and mobile …