SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics is one of the main topics in SAP S/4HANA and we see a lot of interest in the market these days. Over the course of the past 18 months I have been providing overview presentations, demos, customer and partner enablement and other workshops dealing with all aspects of this new area and it has been a very interesting time so far!
Recently I have noticed more and more documents where the future of SAP’s Business Warehouse is strengthened, despite the way some SAP sales colleagues communicate how all Analytics should be done in SAP S/4HANA.
A good example is the recent article of Computerwoche “Does S/4HANA mean the end of Business Warehouse?” (http://www.computerwoche.de/a/bedeutet-s-4hana-das-ende-des-business-warehouse,3226022) which features a study of the AG Analytics of the German SAP User Group (DSAG) in one of their publications: https://www.dsag.de/sites/default/files/leitfaden_s-hana-businesswarehouse.pdf or http://scn.sap.com/community/business-trends/blog/2015/11/19/7-reasons-why-s4hana-does-not-replace-sap-bw. These articles (Unfortunately some documents are in german only) may be interpreted as if SAP’s official standpoint is to position SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics as the only way to do Analytics (in the context of SAP S/4HANA) over SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW). However this is not the case.
Just to be clear: Both, Computerwoche and DSAG are completely in line with SAP’s overall positioning of SAP S/4HANA and SAP Business Warehouse powered by SAP HANA (BW on HANA). Besides the fact that I have supported the creation of the DSAG study and helped creating the core message, a common positioning of both SAP S/4HANA AND SAP BW on HANA has always been SAP’s official and external statement.
In all the latest TechEd and SAPPHIRE presentations in 2015 (and all those related to SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and SAP HANA Live in the years before) and in all customer and partner enablements and workshops I have held besides other activities, we clearly positioned this topic accordingly, so I am sure an alternate positioning as indicated can only come from a misinterpretation of the topic itself. Maybe it is a good idea to elaborate on this positioning again:
SAP’s official positioning on SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics and SAP BW on HANA
One of the cornerstones of our SAP S/4HANA solution is (and this already started with SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA) that SAP for the first time had an in-memory appliance and database to serve as a reporting engine for all transactional data directly. This said, a lot of the reporting capabilities recently done in an additional system like SAP Business Warehouse could be done by the transactional system itself, making use of the powerful analytical capabilities inside SAP HANA.
But let’s reflect about the capabilities and use cases that an SAP customer requires from a reporting point of view:
On the one hand, operational reporting shall give insight into the very latest data coming out of the business transactions of an ERP system for example. You want to make immediate decisions based on this very recent data and need reports which reflect this. In this case the HANA-based OLAP models provide this information in real-time, in SAP S/4HANA even enabled to work embedded in the transactions itself.
With SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics we make use of SAP ABAP-based Core Data Services to provide these features, providing content and tools, providing the same basic model for any operational reporting including data for Search/Fact Sheets or Smart Business and operational reporting clients in SAP Fiori or using e.g. Cloud for Analytics or the SAP BusinessObjects BI suite.
Examples are “standard reports” in real-time like a cost center analysis, dashboards and KPI’s in top of these values e.g. for sales operations or combined scenarios for embedded scenarios like rich and customized supplier information within a material order screen. Also in case you need to see the very latest receivables positions about a customer to decide on discounts in real-time.
On the other hand, system landscapes in reality can look diverse and inhomogeneous. They contain multiple systems, SAP and non-SAP, have heterogeneous structures and master-/metadata, but there is a huge interest in a harmonized view of all of this data. This harmonization requires access to all data to be able to create consistent meta data and allow proper transformations. The result is a separate storage in an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), while SAP’s standard solution to support these processes is SAP BW on HANA, extended by native SAP HANA Data Warehousing capabilities.
Examples could be a harmonized sales reports or multi-organizational financial overviews based on data coming from different systems or even Excel sheets, with originally overlapping or contradictory master data.
In addition to the mentioned scenarios, a combination of both, real-time operational data and harmonized EDW data is surely required as well and my colleague Matthias Kretschmer has created a blog (http://scn.sap.com/community/s4hana/blog/2015/11/23/unified-solution-sap-s4hana-embedded-analytics-sap-business-warehouse-powered-by-sap-hana) and How-To-Guide (https://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-68337) how to set it up, as well this scenario is part of SAP’s Best Practices documents in SAP Activate (http://service.sap.com/analyticswiths4h).
Summary and conclusion
I am happy that both, User Groups and external press, pick up the topic as this gives SAP the chance to be clear in our messaging: SAP’s standard solution for real-time operational reporting processes including embedded use-cases is SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics. In those cases a customer has been using SAP BW for these kind of use-cases only, a replacement of SAP BW can be possible but the potential decision has to reflect all possible aspects including the available and required functionality for example.
In those cases where a customer needs Enterprise Data Warehouse processes, SAP’s standard solution is SAP BW on HANA, extended by native SAP HANA Data Warehousing capabilities.
A combination of both is possible and featured as well.
For more information please also see the FAQ for SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics (http://a248.g.akamai.net/n/248/420835/c56a5b43b4f7b3942360af99933f52678d0528154abb3614d5d28a3f35b75c24/sapasset.download.akamai.com/420835/sapcom/docs/2015/11/7e25a80f-507c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.pdf) or an article in SAP Insider on this topic (http://go.sap.com/docs/download/2015/12/92865b4d-537c-0010-82c7-eda71af511fa.pdf) or visit the SAP S/4HANA Landing Page (http://go.sap.com/product/enterprise-management/s4hana-erp.html).
With best regards,
Head Analytical Solutions, Global Business Development SAP S/4HANA