Blog Archive

Let’s start off this story with a joke:

 “80 percent of time spent by data scientists is related to data preparation. The other 20 percent of the time, they complain about having to do so much data preparation”.

I have been working in data warehousing and analytics for almost 10 years now. 10 years ago, I indeed spent most of my time fetching data from different data sources, combining and transforming it to get it into the required format.

Is data integration still relevant?

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In almost any commercial organization, the knowledge of the cost of a product or service is essential to take the right strategic decisions. Furthermore, without knowing the true cost of your product or service you are not able to determine at which price you should offer it to the market in order to break even or to gain a profit.

Strangely enough, in an industry that counts for 11% of our GNP in Belgium, the healthcare industry, I have never run into a healthcare organization that has true knowledge of the cost of care they are providing to the individual patient. Sure, they do have figures on the organization as a whole, and even on a departmental level, but never on the cost of providing care to the individual patient.

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7 am. iPhone breaks the silence. Internet modems switch on. Six degrees outside. Foggy.

iPhone accompanies me to the bathroom. Email downloads. First communications. Fresh coffee, bread, two smartphones and a tablet on the breakfast table. Newspapers, traffic jams, parking lots, calendars, the first chats. The day has started.

8.7 billion things connected to the internet

When Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007, he must have had a vision.

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“Information has become free, fast and abundant, and we have to learn how to handle it in the most optimal way”. A nice quote I heard in the documentary Econoshock 2.0 of journalist Michaël Van Droogenbroeck on Canvas. In not much more than 50 years our pattern of information consumption has changed drastically.  We have moved from a one-directional, limited model to an online multidirectional, open information system to gather, share and create information in all kind of forms and on all sorts of devices. Although the explosion of information was enormous the last years, the amount of information will even become more excessive. Trends show that data and content mining will increase the available information.

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Don’t panic. The purpose of this blog post is not to explain how, let’s say, column storage is different from row storage. This will not be a presentation of all technical details of SAP HANA. Instead, you will discover what HANA can mean to you.

As not all of you might have the same level of understanding of HANA, let’s just start with a small recap of what it is all about.

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Monday morning, 7:15 am. You are woken by your alarm clock. Not because you have set your alarm on Sunday. Your alarm checked your digital calendar. It also looked for traffic jams on your route to work, and adjusted your wake up time to the situation on the road. While you are going downstairs, you can already smell a delicious coffee aroma. Your coffee machine had started simultaneously with your alarm clock. Isn’t this a nice way to start your working week?

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Evolution of business intelligence

Ever since the beginning of Business Intelligence, people have been creating reports on how their company is doing. From these reports all kinds of information can be read, from stock to quality assurance, and from financial facts to production line specifics. As valuable as this information is, there is one fact that remains an issue. All this information is retrieved from data from the past. Basically, this means all these reports merely show what already happened.

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In The Importance of ‘Big Data: A Definition, Gartner analysts Mark A. Beyer and Douglas Laney define big data as: “high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets demanding cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision-making”.

I recently discovered Global Pulse. Global Pulse is a great innovation initiative by the United Nations where social big data is being used for a global purpose.  

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Predictive analytics is one of the buzzwords in CIO circles these days. More and more companies wish to know what the future will bring, and they use predictive analysis for this. Imagine how much stronger this could make your company within its market segment. It could bring forward many new insights for your marketers, knowing what your customer churn (= customer turnover) will be, or how often certain customers will use your product over the coming 1, 2, 6 or even 12 months. This information could prove to be the edge you have over your competitors.

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Two weeks ago, I spent a weekend in France with a couple of friends. When I came home on Monday evening, I went straight to my sofa and grabbed my phone. I quickly wanted to check if I hadn’t missed anything on social media. When I finished, it was dark outside and I had been hungry for more than an hour. I had read all my feeds and it had been a complete waste of time. You probably know this feeling, right?

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