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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.


Get Off That IT Treadmill with a Product Management Practice

legs of people walking on treadmill

One of the consistent themes I hear from IT is that a line of business of department bought its own tool, and then handed it off to IT to support. Also, many times when we ask IT what features their internal customers want next, they really don’t know until the critical request comes to them.

Now, I get that IT resources are constrained and no one has a bunch of free time. But there is a very solid, best-practice method to get your IT department off of this critical request treadmill – Read the rest of this entry

The Test of Effective Cash and Liquidity Management

My daughter recently aced her SATs. She credited her preparation, but it was her overall perspective that struck me: “It’s not like it’s real life or anything.” Real-life decision making is hard. It’s almost always based on incomplete and unreliable data, contradictory “facts,” and yesterday’s news.

Yet decide we must, and the futures of our companies and our careers depend on it. Cash and liquidity would certainly make an interesting SAT test question: “80% of unit cash balances are available as of yesterday afternoon. How much Japanese Yen will we need in six weeks?”

To answer, we’d of course …

Financial Reform: Protect Yourself with an Agile Information Architecture

Financial Reform: Protect Yourself with an Agile Information Architecture

Remember the financial meltdown? Experts still can’t decide if we’re on the road to recovery…how long that road may be…or even if there is a road. As a nation, though, we did agree to more oversight over corporate financials. Enter the Dodd-Frank legislation, passed in July 2010.

A recent USA Today article shows that after three years, there’s still much work to be done to not only establish the regulations related to the legislation, but actually implement compliance to the regulation. As of September 3, 2013, only 40% of the required 398 …

Get Your Hands Dirty, Data Scientists!

Get Your Hands Dirty, Data Scientists!

Have you read Gartner’s research note on Defining and Differentiating the Role of the Data Scientist? You can hardly read anything about enterprise information management (EIM) without bumping into the term “data scientist”. And @DataLovers tweeted just last week that data scientists are the new rock stars.


Here’s my issue. Before you can be a data scientist—conducting experiments with data and unearthing new correlations between weather, what I had for lunch, and what …

What is Dirty Data Costing You?

But is data quality really that important?

Intrinsically, you know that you need good data. But how far do you need to go? What are the real costs incurred if you DON’T have clean data?

How Bad Can it Be?

The most common data quality question is, “We’re still making money, so how bad can it really be?”

Consider the following scenario. You made the “mistake” of hiring good people. Rock stars, even. They’re smart people, and they want to make sure you keep making money. As processes break and bad reports are generated, they want to fix them. So they do. Herein lies the …

The Information Governance Jigsaw Puzzle

The Information Governance Jigsaw Puzzle

My eight-year-old daughter loves to do puzzles; she has since she was a toddler. When she first started doing the cardboard ones from a box, rather than the simple board type, we tried to explain how to put them together (e.g. start with the edge pieces, look at the box’s picture). Like most kids, she had her own ideas about how it should work, and of course, followed none of our instructions. But now she puts them together faster than most adults.

I happened to be doing a puzzle with her last weekend, and I thought about how …

Hurry Up and Wait with Big Data Analytics? How to Realize the Benefits of Real Time

people moving through a station

Big data can help businesses gain new insights at incredibly fast, real-time speeds. However, making an informed decision based on accurate information is only the first step. You have to implement that decision across your organization in order to produce the desired outcomes. But how do you do that?

In order to fully realize the benefits of real time, you need to act in real time and bring both analytics and transactions to work at the same speeds. If one is running at light speeds while the other is running batch jobs, you won’t realize the full potential of your …

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad…Data?

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad...Data?

Those of you familiar with the children’s story, “The Three Little Pigs,” know that a big bad wolf visits each of the pigs’ houses in anticipation of a savory meal. However, (spoiler alert here) only one little pig’s house ends up being strong enough not to be blown over by the big bad wolf. Well, that’s because that smart little pig knew that having a strong foundation for his house—in this case building it with bricks and mortar —would shield and protect his investment and literally save his skin when he needed it most.

Can Information Governance Help Me Find My TV?

Can Information Governance Help Me Find My TV?

USA reported an interesting story about a musician who ordered a Westinghouse TV from Amazon (purchased from a third party provider). Some of you probably did that yourself over the holidays. He anxiously waited for the big box to arrive. Instead, a much smaller box appeared on his doorstop. Hmmm. Perhaps, he thought, this is a single component for the TV? Cables or a stand? Reasonable guesses.

Nope. Not a TV at all—instead, it was a black, semiautomatic gun. Imagine his surprise! Thankfully, the Washington, D.C. musician …

Making Holiday Shopping Truly Merry with Mobility and Data Management

Women With Shopping Bags

If you’re like me, you’ll spend many hours this holiday season shopping for gifts, as well as trying to snag bargains on a few items for yourself. The shopping period between Black Friday and the end of the year has traditionally been a boom time for retailers, and the impact of technology on the holiday shopping season is increasingly evident.

Every day, a myriad of advertisements fills my email inbox to inform me of each retailer’s deals. Multiple iPad applications were launched this year to help shoppers find the best bargains by aggregating holiday deals from multiple retailers. “Cyber Monday” …