Every single discussion I have with my customers and prospects on the Analytic requirements in their journey to S/4 HANA pass by a “blank face” moment when I ask them: which kind of Analytics environment you have today and which kind of Analytics environment do you envision once you have your S/4 implemented and fully functional? Usually the answer goes somehow like this: once we have S/4 HANA, our understanding is that we can have full Analytics capabilities right from the source once we have S/4 Analytics and applications, CDS views, Fiori, SAP BusinessObjects Cloud, Lumira and Design Studio. We are ready.
Well, it is not a bad answer. The possibilities to have Analytics capabilities closer to the source, in real time and with a beautiful interface have never been so good:
- S/4 Analytics works similar (I said similar, not equal) to old timer “Business Content” for SAP NetWeaver BW (SAP BW). It brings data model (via CDS views) and the possibility to consume those views via an Analytical tool, such as SAP BusinessObjects Suite (including Lumira and Design Studio), besides, it also delivers several – pretty nice – Analytics applications which are Fiori based and let you go from insight to action in a single tool!
- Once you get a hand on CDS views you build additional models leveraging the ones already delivered by SAP and provide your company with operational analytics capabilities, nice reports to look into the past (we are talking line items analysis in real time) and even some predictive possibilities.
- Yes we can go cloud as well. With SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (BOC, current name of the previously know as SAP Cloud for Analytics) you can have a full cloud-based solution complete with Business Intelligence, Planning, Predictive (still not fully released) and Governance, Risk and Control (still not released). All this, connected in real time with your S/4 HANA providing the right information, at the right time to the right people with the right flavor (mobile, desktop, you name it).
- As a plus, you can even use the nice SAP Digital Boardroom on top of your BOC so you can deliver and lead your Board Meetings as never before. It is fully based on how SAP runs its own Board Meetings, so it is based on real time data, allowing exploring, deep diving and even simulating how decisions would impact business outcome.
If all that is true, why would I still ask that dusty question: which kind of Analytics environment you have today and which kind of Analytics environment do you envision once you have your S/4 implemented and fully functional?
The answer is simple. Most of my customers and prospects are on business for a while now. Some of them have really great Analytics solutions (I mean solutions, not only tools), they have developed – either alone, with SAP or with a SAP partner – solutions that are aligned and support business objectives, that provides insight on what’s going on on their company, which allows them to simulate, plan, forecast and track results. In some cases, those solutions have special characteristics:
- Some solutions are not able to coop with real time data, once a few sources are simply not available in real time – like some distributed POS (Point of Sales) systems;
- A few solutions required data cleansing and harmonization before you can actually use that data – like some marketing research so common on manufacturing and consumer products industry;
- In some cases, you got to have a huge amount of data in order to provide valid input – like when you do predictive maintenance, you need to store data from all your components and sensors working fine for a while, so you can define when they are not working as expected;
- There is even a wide possibility (yes, I’m been a little sarcastic here) that you actually need to preserve all the investment your company has done so far and build on your historical data, combining it with several other legacy and specialized systems, etc.
We could keep exploring that list, but I’m sure the concept is clear. There is no silver bullet when it comes to discuss the overall Analytics Strategy to your company, there is no “one size fits all” and there is no definitive path. In order to define the correct path there are a few things to consider:
- What are the business drivers?
- What are the business objectives?
- How does objectives could be measured?
- What’s the current technological landscape?
- What’s the current people / knowledge setup?
- Where does Analytics have to go, to evolve, to meet business objectives in mid and long term?
- How does items 3 to 5 have to evolve to fulfill Analytics requirements in mid and long term?
- What’s the transformation roadmap to link strategy to execution?
With all that considered, so many other components could come to play: Data Warehouse, Big Data, Hadoop, Event Streaming, Fraud Management, Predictive Analytics, other data sources, other cloud sources, etc.
I hope it helps on your considerations.
All the best.