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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.


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 …

2 More Big Data V’s — Value and Veracity

2 More Big Data V's -- Value and Veracity

A lot has been written on the 3 V’s of Big Data – Volume, Variety and Velocity. Yet there are two more equally, and perhaps even more important, attributes to consider—Value (business value to be derived) and Veracity (the quality and understandability of the data).

Big Data Value

Value starts and ends with the business use case. The business must define the analytic application of the data and its potential associated value to the business. Use cases are important both to define initial “Big Data” pilot justification and to build a roadmap for transformation.

This value is critical in the …

Bad Data the Culprit in Weird Holiday Gift List Mystery

Marketing Data

Come holiday season and it’s normal for your promotional mail to increase four folds. But this holiday, I received a few weird offers—a hearing aid, a retirement community brochure, and a marketing call for an elderly alert system. Being in analytics myself, I wanted to understand the reason why these companies are targeting me since I assumed this didn’t result from mass marketing.

I started scanning my last few months’ purchases to understand the trigger and didn’t find anything. Finally, I found a website that listed my marketing data and this is what I found:

And the …

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 I’ll need at the grocery store for dinner—before any of that, you have to know what data you have.

And …

Everyday BI: Introduction

Everyday BI - Introduction

Business intelligence (BI) is everywhere. It’s more accessible. It’s mobile. It’s in the cloud. It runs in real time. It’s part of “Big Data” and small data. Simply put, BI surfaces, in one shape or another, in a tangled, twisted, and integrated way everywhere in our everyday lives.

In this new series, I want to take a different approach in my writing than what I usually do and explore the concept of BI from a “consumer” perspective. I’m changing the viewpoint, just as the movie Toy …

Is Your Organization Getting Value from Your Big Data?

Is Your Organization Getting Value from Your Big Data?

Have you ever looked at the pictures of people on LinkedIn? I was scrolling through the site the other day and it hit me how many different styles there are: Professional (staring directly at the camera), Casual (cropped from a backyard picnic), Action (presenting at a conference), and Modern (my personal favorite— black and white “look-away” shots as if they’re in an important meeting —I feel like I’m intruding). The people that use all of these different styles are trying to create value for themselves by displaying a certain image to the outside world.

That got me thinking about all …

Income Tax Fraud: the Axe Is Starting To Fall

Income Tax Fraud: the Axe Is Starting To Fall

According to European Commission estimates, EU countries lose more than €1 trillion a year to tax evasion and avoidance. In the U.S, unreported income costs the U.S. Treasury alone $250 billion or more a year in lost taxes, and the IRS estimated that 17% of Americans are fudging on their filings. With these alarming figures, it should come to no surprise this is becoming more and more of a priority topic in every Government’s agenda.

The reality today is that only a very small percentage of tax offenders are being caught. Why can’t detection …

Predict, Execute and Control: the mantra for better Financial Planning and Analysis


Managing financial planning and analysis is an end-to-end process that starts with strategy definition and documentation. It then goes through the detailed planning, budgeting, and forecasting processes that define the activities and resource allocations necessary to achieve the strategic objectives. This is followed by profitability and cost analysis, and other modelling and simulation scenarios. Underpinning this whole process is the need for constant reporting and monitoring.

So, unlike external reporting, which is mandatory based on various regulatory requirements and needs to happen only at certain points in the financial year, internal reporting is on-going. Similarly, we can think of the …

“Big Data” and Analytics — Value Chain Cross Section

Value Chains of Big Data

Much is said about the definition of Big Data, but for the sake of this blog let me reiterate:

Big Data = ∑ (Volume + Velocity + Variety + Veracity + Complexity)

This means that you don’t have to have all of the 4V + 1C characteristics in order to call it Big Data. Any combination of 4V + 1C results in Big Data. For example, you may have as little as one gigabyte of data, while the complexity and veracity of the data is high—this still qualifies as Big Data.

The interesting part of Big …

The Big Data Job Boom

The Big Data Job Boom

Everywhere you go, everything you do, you’re generating data, and so is everyone around you. Your mobile phone usage, your internet browsing behavior, the way you drive your car, the number of times you buy turkey at the grocery store…all of that data is being collected and used by companies around the world. The massive growth in this information — which has exploded in volume, velocity and variety — has given rise to a new name for a new field: Big data.

But the explosion of data has also given rise to a tremendous need for skilled professionals capable …