Connect with Us

About Us

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.


Business Intelligence 101 — Time to Start Your Installations!

Business People Working at Computer

Congratulations, you’ve just bought enterprise-wide business intelligence (BI) software! Someone made the decision to purchase it (maybe you were even involved!) And you’re going to help install it!

Who Do You Help First?

Finance. Always help finance. They hold the purse strings, they make the happy happen. When it comes to pleasing people inside of any organization, finance should almost always be at the top of your list. The nice thing is, the reason isn’t always political.

Everyone expects finance reporting to be available out of the gates. Nobody buys an enterprise-wide BI solution without finance. That means you’d better …

Is Your Business Intelligence Implementation Like a Game In Real Life?

Video gaming

Now that you’ve implemented your business intelligence (BI) solution, it’s time to “play the BI game”. Not long ago, SmartData Collective presented an Infographic and article surrounding a LogiXML survey of folks likening their BI systems to video games. The overwhelming favorite seemed to be Pac Man (stable, but boring). Let’s bring another piece of gaming culture and apply it to BI. Abbreviations and acronyms for internet slang are used by gamers, texters, and others to shrink larger phrases down. If we …

How to Choose the Right Business Intelligence Tool


When it comes to business intelligence (BI) reporting tools, there are so many choices in the market. Deciding which tool to buy and which tool to use have become daunting tasks for management. Here are some tips to help you make a wise and informed decision.

Know Your Business

When buying a new BI tool, you first need to have a clear understanding of your business needs and business requirements. Always answer these questions before you look into the technology:

What infrastructure does your company currently have? Will this new tool work well with your existing infrastructure? Does …

Lessons in Business Intelligence: Be Careful What You Wish For


What’s the purpose of a business intelligence (BI) dashboard? It’s not just to look sexy. The primary purpose of a dashboard is to convey information. A secondary purpose is to inspire a behavioral change based on the information that’s being conveyed. Nobody wants to be “red” on a dashboard reviewed by executives, so they’ll change their behavior in order to get into the “green” area.

But humans are a creative species. What happens if their behavior changes in an unanticipated way?

Unintended Consequences

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the cobra effect, …

Picking Your Friends in a BI Initiative


No project (business intelligence, information technology, or otherwise) can be completed without people. But what people do you need to engage, and how do you need to engage them?

Pick Friends in High Places

It’s very easy to say “your business intelligence (BI) project needs executive support,” It’s another thing entirely to actually get it. Executives buy into projects because it improves something for them. Yes, their overriding goal is always to do right by the company, but if they’re going to stick their neck out for you, you have to expect them to have a little skin in the …

What to Expect from Your BI Implementation

Crystal ball

You’ve spent the time, effort, and funds on your BI initiative. Now what? After launch comes the inevitable lessons learned or something like that. But before you get to that point, you should have set some expectations with the end users, right? No? Then let that be your first “lesson.” It’s essential to set realistic expectations prior to opening the floodgates. Your users need to know what they’ve bought – no one wants to drive the compact car when they thought they bought the luxury model.

Let’s take a look at a few of the expectations, that if properly established, …

The Trouble with Multiple Truths in Business Intelligence


The goal of business intelligence (BI) is to achieve a “single version of the truth,” so you can make more informed business decisions. But, as I’m about to share, the truth can change depending how you ask the question.

An example of multiple truths:

What is the highest mountain on Earth? What is the tallest mountain on Earth? Which mountain on Earth has the biggest elevation gain?

Did you guess Mount Everest for any of the above questions? I will give you a hint: each of the above questions has a different answer… all because of how the metric is …

Seven Rules for Dashboard Success


While not every corporate executive understands what business intelligence truly is, every executive wants dashboards because they’re sexy and beautiful. They transform boring data into an attractive visualization. But how many executives know exactly what a dashboard is for and what it should be? Very few. It’s just like those hot trendy spring fashions that everyone wants to have but don’t exactly know why. To make things more complicated, every Jane, Jack, and Harry thinks they know how to build a dashboard or what it should look like—or perhaps they’re simply afraid to ask.

Below are some of the dashboarding …

Success in the Business Intelligence Game


I’ve been hearing quite a lot about business intelligence (BI) success lately, and it’s become very clear to me that success means different things to different people. However, before we can determine whether a BI project was successful, we should decide what business intelligence success looks like.

What Is Business Intelligence Success?

Business intelligence success isn’t just about the technology. Making the right information available to the right people at the right time isn’t enough if they won’t/don’t use it. You can tell whether your business intelligence initiatives are successful by the value of the information-driven decisions that are now …

When Everything Old Is New Again

New object

Originally published August 15, 2012, on SAP Business Trends.

My response to people who talk about real-time information as if it’s the newest innovation on the planet is always the same: where have you been since 1998? That’s the year I discovered the joys of how real-time data can solve tough business challenges. I remember it well, the day I met the clients I’ve come to view as among the most challenging in my entire career so far. As communications manager at a high-technology public relations firm, I managed four or five …