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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.


Retail Innovation – A Game of Checkers

game changer retail

The balance of power within the retail ecosystem has shifted many times over the years and will continue to do so. As the game of checkers goes, players methodically attempt to outmaneuver and manipulate towards the outcome of the game.

Within the retail ecosystem, it was the suppliers and vendors that dictated the rules of the game for retail early on. How products would be made available, and when and how they would be promoted, was decided by the needs of the retailer. In the mid-1960s, along came the “Big Box” retailers such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Target, and Kmart. …

Social Media – A Double-Edged Sword for Corporations!

Just recently, I noticed a couple of similar social media posts by friends. They echoed the same sentiment —extreme irritation at bad customer service by a large airline, which is notorious for its lack of attention to its passengers. Ironically, my friends were flying first class on the occasions they were mistreated.

Their accounts reminded me of a similar bad experience I had with the same airline. I looked up J. D. Power’s customer satisfaction rankings of North American airline companies, and sure enough, found our antagonists languishing near the bottom.

Social media is a great leveler—it enables the …

Performance for the Public


I often have the pleasure to work with customers to understand the business impact of the software they’ve implemented, so that they can construct well-balanced case stories that their industry peers will relate to and understand.

Because of this experience, my colleagues often badger me for examples of customers successfully using certain software or seeking something particular. Both customers and individuals want the surety that comes from a reference story, so that if we’re spending money, ours or the company’s, we can be assured that what we plan to do has been done successfully before.

Past Success Is Nice but …

Applying Performance Management to CRM and Vice Versa

Increasing Sales

Analytics is a natural extension for CRM when you want to get more insight and make more informed decisions. Using business intelligence (BI) tools as part of an overall CRM solution is commonplace today. However, what about the capabilities more typically associated with performance management. I realize this is a gray area – at what point have we moved from BI to performance management – but how, for example, can strategy management applications be applied to CRM? In a couple of ways:

CRM solutions use analytics to provide executive insight into a myriad of sales performance, pipeline, and customer demographic …

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 …

Who Notices When Data Is Missing? Your Customers Do.


Research agency Vanson Bourne surveyed 500 IT Managers and CIOs in the UK and found that:

One-third of large companies in the UK have lost customers/new business due to missing data Eighty-eight percent of businesses saw data as a strategic asset to their business Fifty-two percent of respondents said their biggest frustration was the complexity around managing multiple data sources

We can make a few assumptions from these results:

If businesses knew their data was missing or incomplete, they would do …

Refrigerator Smells and Information Governance

I was talking to one of the wicked-smart software engineers I know—Dave Gustafson (who also plays a killer trombone). Dave was telling me about techniques for smart, pragmatic code refactoring, and I couldn’t help but see the parallels to information governance and data quality.

One method he mentioned was code smell. “What’s that?” I asked. Dave explained that it’s like refrigerator smell…you know when you open the refrigerator and you smell something, but you don’t know quite what or where it is—but you know something is awry.

And that’s exactly how many data quality …

The Dark Side of Information Governance

Darth Vader

As heavy, predefined processes lumber under their own weight, new methodologies have much more cache: agile, lean. Of course, we all want to be agile, and we all want to be lean. However, you can get carried away. Lots of times, businesses use agile or lean to mean no documentation. True, agile and lean don’t support 500-page up-front specifications, but it doesn’t mean documentation is worthless.

Common Ways We Sabotage Our Information Governance

Andy Hayler, CEO of The Information Difference, in his recent Read the rest of this entry

Improve Customer Retention with CRM Analytics


Some years back, customer relationship management (CRM) became the hot buzzword. Companies hoping to improve customer relations and increase profitability invested very heavily in CRM systems. Profound changes in how clients were won, nurtured, retained, and enticed back into the fold were expected – as were lower costs for marketing and client service.

The questions now on everyone’s mind are:

• Have these companies realized return on their investment? • Is there a system in place that not only supports your CRM …