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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 Off That IT Treadmill with a Product Management Practice

legs of people walking on treadmill

One of the consistent themes I hear from IT is that a line of business of department bought its own tool, and then handed it off to IT to support. Also, many times when we ask IT what features their internal customers want next, they really don’t know until the critical request comes to them.

Now, I get that IT resources are constrained and no one has a bunch of free time. But there is a very solid, best-practice method to get your IT department off of this critical request treadmill – Read the rest of this entry

The Test of Effective Cash and Liquidity Management

My daughter recently aced her SATs. She credited her preparation, but it was her overall perspective that struck me: “It’s not like it’s real life or anything.” Real-life decision making is hard. It’s almost always based on incomplete and unreliable data, contradictory “facts,” and yesterday’s news.

Yet decide we must, and the futures of our companies and our careers depend on it. Cash and liquidity would certainly make an interesting SAT test question: “80% of unit cash balances are available as of yesterday afternoon. How much Japanese Yen will we need in six weeks?”

To answer, we’d of course …

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

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 “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 …

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 …