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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.


Financial Reform: Protect Yourself with an Agile Information Architecture

Financial Reform: Protect Yourself with an Agile Information Architecture

Remember the financial meltdown? Experts still can’t decide if we’re on the road to recovery…how long that road may be…or even if there is a road. As a nation, though, we did agree to more oversight over corporate financials. Enter the Dodd-Frank legislation, passed in July 2010.

A recent USA Today article shows that after three years, there’s still much work to be done to not only establish the regulations related to the legislation, but actually implement compliance to the regulation. As of September 3, 2013, only 40% of the required 398 …

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:

Read the rest of this entry

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 …

How to Get from Data to Decision — Gain Control Over Your Data

How to Get from Data to Decision----Gain Control Over Your Data

In part one of the series, I introduced you to three key activities to drive value through analytics. Today, we’re going to explore the first activity—gaining control over your data.

Gain Control Over Your Data

Since the advent of the internet, information resources available to businesses have exploded due to increasingly sophisticated information technology. This creates a terrific opportunity to support business decision-making with a very rich data set, but first, companies must be able to assimilate all relevant information—whether structured or unstructured data, from internal or external sources—and make it available …

What is Dirty Data Costing You?

But is data quality really that important?

Intrinsically, you know that you need good data. But how far do you need to go? What are the real costs incurred if you DON’T have clean data?

How Bad Can it Be?

The most common data quality question is, “We’re still making money, so how bad can it really be?”

Consider the following scenario. You made the “mistake” of hiring good people. Rock stars, even. They’re smart people, and they want to make sure you keep making money. As processes break and bad reports are generated, they want to fix them. So they do. Herein lies the …

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad…Data?

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad...Data?

Those of you familiar with the children’s story, “The Three Little Pigs,” know that a big bad wolf visits each of the pigs’ houses in anticipation of a savory meal. However, (spoiler alert here) only one little pig’s house ends up being strong enough not to be blown over by the big bad wolf. Well, that’s because that smart little pig knew that having a strong foundation for his house—in this case building it with bricks and mortar —would shield and protect his investment and literally save his skin when he needed it most.


Be approximately right rather than exactly wrong.” – John W. Turkey

“Approximately” is a wonderful term – and an essential concept for everyone working with analytics.

First, I want to state a presumption. Data is valuable. Every bit of information your organization captures, copies, or keeps has an intrinsic value to the organization. But, that value is only realized when people leverage the information for some purpose that creates value.

I’ve worked with many companies; and, quite naturally, those tasked with providing data for analytics have a natural drive to make their data perfect – to remove any approximation. And …

Holding Out for an Information Governance Hero

Holding out for a hero

In talking to customers last week, they again reinforced that information governance success is still on the horizon for each of them—and these were companies that had a dedicated data governance organization in place for years! Here are some of the key barriers still affecting most customers I talk to, and some general guidance on how to overcome them.

Points for you, if you can identify some lyrics or the artist in my song choices—or if you can think of a better one!

Stayin’ Alive

They’re already very good at manually moving data and making it fit-for-use. As a consequence, …

Did You Wash Your Hands? How about Your Data?

The simple, yet often-forgotten, act of hand-washing. We’ve all heard that it’s one of the best ways of preventing colds and staying well in winter. It’s not hard to do, and we all know we should do it—but how often do we?

In a nationwide poll published by the New York Times and conducted by Harris Interactive, 1,013 adults were interviewed about their hand washing habits. Observers were then sent into public restrooms to see what actually happened. In the poll, 91 percent of adults claimed that they washed their hands after using a …