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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.


Analytics and Innovation Make a Difference for a Nonprofit

City Year

We often associate the use of analytics with running a successful corporation, but the truth is, its use goes way beyond that. Analytics is now increasingly playing a role in sports (Super Bowl, soccer, tennis), in the public sector and politics, and at nonprofit organizations.

City Year: Helping Students and Schools

City Year is a national nonprofit organization …

Subtlety, Complexity, and the Future of Retail

woman pushes shopping cart in grocery store

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 …

Now You’ve Defined Your Incentive Plans, There’s One More Thing You Have To Do

Now You've Defined Your Incentive Plans, There's One More Thing You Have To Do

It’s the start of the year, and organizations around the world are holding kickoff meetings in order to explain new incentive systems to their employees.

These plans are typically the result of many months of painful negotiations, as corporate stakeholders debate the perfect set of incentives to support the organization’s strategy.

But every system of incentives inevitably opens up the possibility of dysfunctional behavior. Not necessarily because employees are corrupt, but because they feel pressured to “meet the numbers” – and because daring to question the value of corporate KPIs is actively discouraged.

Dysfunctional behavior is just as predictable as …

How You Too Can Drive Innovation and Contribute Actively to Creating Value with Actionable Analytics

How You Too Can Drive Innovation and Contribute Actively to Creating Value with Actionable Analytics

While in control of their “traditional” tasks of accounting, controlling, and governance or finance operations, today’s chief financial officers (CFOs) are already stepping up their influence on corporate strategy. Yes—it’s the CFO and the supporting gang that will be the drivers of margins, the visionaries of operational processes, and the creator of vast increases in value contribution from a non-sales perspective.

Whenever you are in search of meaningful data these days, the magic guy or gal is always the controller, the finance guy, the lady in management reporting. There …

Building an Analytics Business Case

Building an Analytics Business Case

As analytics tools and platforms continue to proliferate, a central challenge for most practitioners is how to successfully compete for funding dollars for BI / Analytics. Compounding this challenge is that, rather than a core technology, Analytics is considered by many to be an enabling capability. So how do we go about building an analytics business case?

What’s a Business Case?

First of all, we need to understand that the term “business case” denotes different things to different people. Taking a leaf from Clayton Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Solution, there are two definitions of the Job To Be …

The “Big Data” Storm…

The "Big Data" Storm ...

As some of you may know, I wrote a blog the other week that asks, ‘Is Big Data Really a Big Opportunity?’ and if you haven’t the chance to read it… my answer was YES.

I recently saw this Big Data infographic, and thought it was quite interesting for a couple of reasons that you may not expect. We all know how much data is out there. So for me, that was old news and those stats didn’t have me leaping from …

Forging a Culture of Information Maximizes Your Return on Analytics Investments

Forging a Culture of Information Maximizes Your Return on Analytics Investments

Every year, companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on analytics technology investments intended to enable the business to work more efficiently and effectively, drive growth, and secure profitability. The ability of a company to reap the full benefits of these analytics investments depends largely on the nature and degree to which people adopt the technology, and this often comes down to a question of culture.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines culture as “the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.” When people adopt technology as part of their culture, companies realize the maximum return on …

How to Get From Data to Decision — the Journey to Insight

How to Get From Data to Decision -- the Journey to Insight

Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored three key activities to driving enterprise value through analytics. In this final installment, we’ll discuss the path forward.

Many times, the immediate need for business insight is scattered around the organization, and the response is addressed in isolation rather than as a company-wide imperative. Employees often perform their analysis in spreadsheets and resort to manual workarounds when existing tools and processes are inadequate.

Today, however, the requirement for financial and operational insight is growing as the business environment has become harder to predict. At the …

Analytics: Key Trends for 2013

Analytics: Key Trends for 2013

Business analytics has evolved dramatically from its humble beginnings in core data warehousing more than 30 years ago. It’s evolved from simple, decision support solutions to advancements in business intelligence (BI), enterprise performance management (EPM), and, most recently, intelligent data concepts and predictive analytic applications. Companies have embraced the value of analytics – solutions that combine data and analysis to drive insights – to help them differentiate, become more competitive, and make better business decisions.

A Pervasive Culture of Analytics

Almost everyone in your company can benefit from some form of analytics. Employees want to make their jobs easier – …

How to Get from Data to Decision — Deliver the Right Information to the Right People

How to Get from Data to Decision -- Deliver the Right Information to the Right People

In the first two blogs of this series, we discussed the three key activities to drive value through analytics—gaining control of your data, delivering the right information to the right people, and enabling real time and predictive analysis. Today, I want to delve deeper into the second activity.

It’s not enough for an organization to simply have consistent data. It also must agree on how to use and deliver that data – preferably at a company-wide level. Without this agreement, it’s difficult to link strategic objectives with tactical actions such …