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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 …

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 …

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 – …

The Digital Rush! Customers Define a New Era for Cloud Content

In the cloud

The need for information is just as strong today, if not stronger, than it was hundreds of years ago. But the ways we access information, and the forms it exists in, are dramatically different. I like to compare the past two decades’ changing landscape of digital information to the California Gold Rush of the 1800s. As they did during the Gold Rush, droves of people are jumping on the band wagon with the hope of achieving unprecedented riches and their 15 minutes of fame. Today, they hope to do it by creating content to post on social channels (like YouTube …

Governance for Your Cloud Applications

In the Cloud

There are all types of applications available in the cloud today, including ones focused on customers, sourcing and suppliers, HR, business networks, analytics, and full business processing with ERP. So, where do governance and information programs fit within these cloud applications?

Ina Felsheim does a great job of talking about governance, including what it does for you and what happens if you don’t have governance. And if you follow her on Decision Factor or Twitter, you’ll see she talks about governance as having many entry points: information discovery (knowing what you …

Bad News Travels at Light Speed: Cloud Analytics to the Rescue

Light speed

Why is it that we tend not to say much when we’re happy with a commercial transaction, but we can’t communicate enough when we’re disappointed! Take one of my favorite industry analysts/bloggers, Josh Greenbaum, for example. In one of his recent blogs, he roasted a prominent bank as only a scorned author of his caliber could. What does this have to do with analytics? From an enterprise perspective, perhaps nothing. From a cloud perspective, however – everything.

If the bank in question were to mine their call center data, they could no doubt find references to …

ETL — People Still Do That?


While you won’t see “ETL” in headlines the way you see “big data” or “cloud,” ETL plays a key role in helping organizations take advantage of these technology trends. In fact, according to “The Forrester Wave: Enterprise ETL, Q1 2012” report, the market for ETL is growing more than ever.

What Is ETL?

ETL (extract, transform, and load) often involves taking data from many systems and transferring it into your data warehouse for use with your analytics or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. In the process, the data is transformed to meet …

Beware: Evolving Technologies May Cause Policy Headaches

The recent financial crisis has changed the corporate landscape; today we live in a world of crowdsourcing and “doing more with less.” Cloud computing, social media, smartphones, tablet computers, and the thousands of apps that run on them are designed to do just that. All that sounds good on paper, but is there another side to this story?

As a risk and compliance professional, I tend to focus on the risk aspect of each situation (yes that puts me in the minority, as most of the business world focuses on performance). So, it’s no surprise that I’m concerned …

Cloud Analytics: Bridging the Needs Gap Between Business and IT


Gartner recently announced their 2011 list of top-10 strategic technologies for CIOs. Not surprisingly, cloud computing was at the top. Similarly, IDC predicted in late 2010 that cloud services would mature in 2011 with spending on public IT cloud services growing at five times the rate of the IT industry as a whole – up 30 percent from 2010.

Why Is IT Just Now Embracing Cloud Analytics?

Business people and small/mid-sized companies have been reaping the benefits of cloud analytics for several years – many …