SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is SAP’s cloud data visualization tool. It comprises three main parts: Business Intelligence (BI), planning and augmented analytics. In a previous entry, we introduced you to SAC, particularly in regard to how it fits in the SAP strategy to form part of clouded business intelligence. Let’s dig deeper into its functionalities.
SAP Analytics Cloud for Business Intelligence
Available by default in SAP Analytics Cloud, business intelligence includes:
Data modeling (adding indicators, formulas, etc.);
Modeling being optional in data analysis, we will essentially focus on data acquisition methods and data visualization.
SAP Analytics Cloud offers several connection types to display data. Data can be imported into the cloud server or recovered via a live, direct connection with the SAP system.
Import type connections allow access to data on the cloud server. This will de-duplicate the data and provide instant access when navigating the dashboard. However, storage space is limited (100 columns; 800,000 to 1,000,000 lines) depending on the data model.
Below are the 21 import methods available through SAP Analytics Cloud:
There are many import methods, namely for SAP on-premise and cloud-based software editions. S/4HANA is available in both edition types, just like classic systems such as SAP ERP and SAP BW.
Connection to external environments like that of Google is also possible via applications such as Google Drive and Google BigQuery. For instance, data from Google Sheets files can be retrieved, extracted and formatted in SAC. In addition, flat files in the CSV, XLSX or TXT formats can also be imported. Data can be refreshed at any moment, either manually or via scheduling (every hour, day, week or month).
A direct connection between an external SAP system and SAP Analytics Cloud allows for real-time data recovery and access to content, without duplication in a cloud system. Unlike direct import methods, there are very few native live connections types, although covering most user needs.
In this case, only SAP systems are made available. This, however, requires advanced configuration (reverse proxy) when setting up connections, to ensure data security and confidentiality.
Data can be visualized using different shapes, graphical content and tables. Integrating interactive content is made easy: widgets, image files, RSS feeds and more.
SAP Analytics Cloud can help create complete dashboards quickly, to help with decision making. The tool displays data in numerous ways: KPIs, spreadsheets, diagrams (bar diagrams, waterfall charts, donut charts, etc.), geomaps, and a host of others.
Once reports are prepared, graphical elements can be extracted in PDF, Google Slides and, soon enough, Microsoft PowerPoint format, and content can be sent via email automation. Data from the tables created can be extracted in CSV or XLSX.
For complex needs, users can develop their own analytical apps. Recently deployed on SAC, analytical apps provide a new, mobile-type navigation experience.
Analytical apps look like reports enhanced by script commands, which can be used to meet specific usage needs. Script commands allow interacting with report content via onclick and onselect events. We can also compute values and create an interaction by hiding or showing certain diagrams.
The application designer is a fairly complete tool in regard to its features, and gives genuine freedom of action with script commands:
SAP Analytics Cloud for Planning
SAP Analytics Cloud for planning can help create different budget versions according to the objectives and trends of the company. These budget versions are displayed as editable tables in which data can be entered to balance the numbers as far as possible.
Amounts affected by individual modified values are visible at a glance:
It is possible to import budgets from SAP ERP, manage different budget versions, and compare them on the fly, for instance with a timing diagram. As seen previously, data exchange with SAP BPC is a native function, which makes importing and exporting data between SAC and BPC a breeze.
SAP Analytics Cloud – Augmented Analytics
Beyond smart features in BI mode, augmented predictive analytic functions known as Predictive Scenarios are made available by SAP. They allow applying statistical models on data sets based on a source file.
SAP Analytics Cloud offers three types of predictive scenarios:
Classification, to answer a binary question with a probability expressed as a percentage;
Regression, to predict a numerical value based on dependent variables, and see the resulting values;
Time series, to predict a numerical value based on previous fluctuations of dependent and independent variables.
After choosing the desired scenario, the user can select a previous file containing “training” data that the algorithm will use to memorize behavior similarities.
Once the predictive analysis tool is trained, the user can apply predictive scenarios on the file containing the current data.
The results can then be visualized in just a few clicks with “time series” diagrams. For non-specialists, SAP offers default scenarios such as “Automatic Forecast” and “Linear Regression.”
SAP Analytics Cloud – Other Features
We frequently remind users of the three main elements available in SAP Analytics Cloud, but in reality, SAP developed numerous other related functionalities.
Digital Boardroom is a dynamic tool that can interact with your data via three screens displaying a real-time and unified view, detailing the different areas of business. This solution is for C-Levels who want a360-degree view of operations in real time.
Activation of Standard Reports
In a few clicks, SAC provides standard reports based on user data. The content made available covers lines of business such as purchasing, finance, human resources and even sales. Various industries using different indicators benefit from it: banking, mining, insurance, retail, etc. The wide range of reports offered by SAC meet plenty of needs... Such as yours!
Creating a dashboard from a blank page has never been easier. SAP developed a tool which, based on your data, generates a dashboard with several tabs and dimensions in no time.
Use with MS Office
You can finally repatriate data from MS Excel, with no additional license cost, thanks to the Analysis plugin for MS Office. Get access to your SAC data models directly in the Office suite and benefit from specific features made available by Microsoft.
SAP Analytics Cloud, through its many data acquisition functions, can easily be implemented in several information systems – not only those that rely on the SAP suite. Its numerous data visualization features are complemented by the capacity to design analytical apps, and give SAC its remarkable versatility.
By adding augmented analytics and planning features compatible with tools such as SAP BPC, SAP Analytics Cloud became a preferred solution in which SAP invested a lot of resources in recent years. To reflect this, the visualization function is gradually implemented to other SAP Cloud apps.
SAP Analytics Cloud is an essential solution for all data visualization needs with SAP products. It is mainly used with cloud-based solutions – and for good reason: it is progressively integrated to most of those tools.
And so, SAP continues to improve SAP Analytics Cloud. It might well become a key business intelligence solution for SAP. And why not an alternative to non-SAP systems?