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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.


Get Your Hands Dirty, Data Scientists!

Get Your Hands Dirty, Data Scientists!

Have you read Gartner’s research note on Defining and Differentiating the Role of the Data Scientist? You can hardly read anything about enterprise information management (EIM) without bumping into the term “data scientist”. And @DataLovers tweeted just last week that data scientists are the new rock stars.


Here’s my issue. Before you can be a data scientist—conducting experiments with data and unearthing new correlations between weather, what I had for lunch, and what …

The Information Governance Jigsaw Puzzle

The Information Governance Jigsaw Puzzle

My eight-year-old daughter loves to do puzzles; she has since she was a toddler. When she first started doing the cardboard ones from a box, rather than the simple board type, we tried to explain how to put them together (e.g. start with the edge pieces, look at the box’s picture). Like most kids, she had her own ideas about how it should work, and of course, followed none of our instructions. But now she puts them together faster than most adults.

I happened to be doing a puzzle with her last weekend, and I thought about how …

Herding Chaotic Spreadsheets

Herding Chaotic Spreadsheets

Surprisingly, after more than a decade working with business intelligence (BI), I still hear customers complain about spreadsheets proliferation and the information chaos they create. Yes, even after several generations of BI tools we seem to be unable to solve the issue—we can’t get rid of spreadsheets!

Data manipulation nightmares related to the use of spreadsheets may happen in your businesses and could lead to lasting repercussions (a recent example of that is the London Whale scandal). Luckily, there are many ways in which your IT department can help keep that chaos …

Can Information Governance Help Me Find My TV?

Can Information Governance Help Me Find My TV?

USA reported an interesting story about a musician who ordered a Westinghouse TV from Amazon (purchased from a third party provider). Some of you probably did that yourself over the holidays. He anxiously waited for the big box to arrive. Instead, a much smaller box appeared on his doorstop. Hmmm. Perhaps, he thought, this is a single component for the TV? Cables or a stand? Reasonable guesses.

Nope. Not a TV at all—instead, it was a black, semiautomatic gun. Imagine his surprise! Thankfully, the Washington, D.C. musician …

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 …

Need Help Selling Your Information Governance Initiative?

SAP_Infographic_Information Governance_3

If you’re one of the many who isn’t yet tracking metrics and constantly reporting business value achieved through your efforts, you can use the Gartner whitepaper statistic below to help you quantify results.

How many business initiatives did you undertake last year? How many delivered on time, on target, and have increasing adoption? How many do you plan to undertake next year?

Ask your CIO or program management office for these numbers—then have a discussion. If you’re normal, 40 percent of those projects will fail. Investing in the quality of the information feeding those initiatives is an imperative.

Data Decay Can Silently Cripple Your Business

Changes_in_US_Business_Information recently published a nice data decay infographic (a small version is included at the end of this post), that shows the level of master data change for business information. Why is understanding data decay essential? Many times organizations think that if they establish a huge, one-time effort to clean up their key master data elements, they won’t need to do it again.

Not true, as the infographic demonstrates. Your data can decay over time. Addresses and zip codes are always changing because of postal authorities. People move and change jobs …

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, …

Health Workers Warned Over Protecting Patients’ Data

Nearly always, the first question I get asked in regard to information governance is “how do I sell the value? I know things are bad, but no one is willing to put money or resources behind the effort.”

An unpopular but effective technique is to let the train go off the track. Yes. Brace yourself and take the hit. You can see the information train barreling down the track, and part of the track is missing. Every instinct you have tells you to stop the train. You can’t stop the train. You can recommend stopping it, but many times another …

Big Data, Big Problems

The concept of big data is a topic that continues to gain significant press, both in the blogging community as well as through discussions by software vendors. Big Data initial discussions with organizations often look at it from the angle of bigger data volumes will result in bigger data problems. Although this seems like a logical premise, the reality of what it really means to an organization and how to plan accordingly is what is often overlooked. Read on to learn why putting an information governance strategy in place will help dictate how information …