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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.


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 …

Part Two: Technology Imperative for Financial Planning and Analysis

Business men working on laptop

In part one of this series of blogs I made the argument that most companies are way behind the “technology wave” and struggling with persistent, fundamental issues that are hard to fix. In this blog I’ll argue that there are two additional factors at work, namely:

IT has a full plate which can actually hinder progress and adoption of new solutions Business needs to be a co-pilot in driving the introduction of technology

These need to be addressed in order to make the transition to a …

Risk Management Project – Where Do I Start?

businesswoman drinks coffee and talks to coworker

Whenever I talk to customers that decide to embark on a risk management project, and wherever they are in the world, one question always kick starts the conversation: So, where do I start?

As a matter of fact, when writing this post, I was kicking myself: Why didn’t I start my blog postings with this topic first? I should have indeed, and I do apologize that it comes so late. It seems that we all want to see the results of a project and invite people to the house warming party before we even lay its foundations…

For all risk …

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 …

Analytics and the Internal Audit Report

analyzing data magnifying glass

Internal auditors have been using analytics (historically called ‘data mining’ or ‘computer-assisted audit techniques’ (CAATS)) to find potential issues for decades.

When I was with Coopers & Lybrand, we used analytics for a variety of audit purposes, including reperforming calculations, sampling transactions for manual auditing, and identifying unusual transactions for further inspection.

When I ran internal audit at Tosco and Solectron, we used analytics to detect millions of dollars of potential duplicate payments; at Solectron, we used analytics and a Benford’s Law routine to identify potential fraud in Suzhou, China; and at Business Objects analytics helped us search out …

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 …

Can Your Customer Benefit from the Data You’re Capturing about Them?

Different people

Last month, I wrote an article about big data and how you can benefit from it, published in Perspectives, a TMForum publication, in time for Mobile World Congress. In the article, I discuss how an enterprise can derive value from all the data types they collect. Today, I want to cover the flip side: how your customers can benefit from all the data you collect about them.

Companies today amass vast amounts of data about their customers, hundreds of gigabytes of data flowing in from unstructured …

Everyone Is Talking Big Data — So What, It’s Always Been Here

Advancing technology has created a flood of data, and many retailers are still struggling to turn that data into usable insight at the pace their customers require. The perception of big data—massive amounts of information coming from customer transactions and promotional activities processed online or at newer point-of-sale machines—has led to a compelling need for better insight and analysis.

With customer relationships increasingly driving sales and lifetime customer value, turning big data into deeper customer understanding has become the key factor separating retail success from failure. Retailers wake up in survival mode. The level of information technology is becoming a …

Most Important “V” and the “C” of Big Data for Business Users

Key role

If you do a search on big data, you’ll see articles about the three Vs of big data (volume, velocity, and variety) and two Cs (collection and consolidation). However, the most important V and C for business users are value and consumption, two things we tend to forget are the crux of solving the big-data problem.

Last week, I was at IDC Direction 2012, and Richard Villars’s keynote came as a breath of fresh air, as he touched upon the value and consumption of big data.

From Email to Basic Collaboration to Results-Oriented Work

A case for the evolution of collaborative and social software

Six years ago, Harvard Professor and Enterprise 2.0 blogger Andrew McAfee theorized that emerging collaboration technologies needed to be “9X [nine times] better” in order to motivate people to switch from using email to collaborate. Yet even today, many of us suffer from email fatigue.

Why is this? Even with the advances in both consumer and enterprise social networking tools, email is still …