What’s New in SAP Analytics Cloud (formerly BusinessObjects Cloud) and SAP Digital Boardroom Release 2017.09
This blog covers some of the latest new features and enhancements in SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Digital Boardroom release 2017.09.
SAP Analytics Cloud agent (formerly BusinessObjects Cloud agent) version required for data acquisition with this release:
- Version 1.0.57 for SAP Business Warehouse (BW) and SAP ERP / SQL databases
- Version 1.0.51 for all other data source types
Note: A new version of the spatial data delivery unit has been released for live HANA systems. Please see details below in the Location Analytics section.
By the way, we’re excited to announce a new name for SAP BusinessObjects Cloud – as of this week, we will be using the new name SAP Analytics Cloud! Please note you will continue to see the BusinessObjects name in our software and some of our communications for some weeks to come as we transition our branding.
Highlights of this release include:
- Data Integration: Next generation data preparation experience now available for all licenses and all wrangling workflows
- Data Integration: More enhancements for Visual Linking
- Predictive: Guided Machine Discovery is now “Smart Discovery”
- Predictive: Use Smart Discovery to score a numeric target based on key influencers
- Predictive: Use Smart Insights to explain a data point in a visualization
- Predictive: Support for R visualizations in stories
- Progressive rendering for charts
- Drive measures in charts by interacting with non-blended tables
- Resize multiple columns to fit content
- Axis alignment within responsive pages
- Opacity slider support for text widgets, input controls, pictograms, and RSS widgets
- Location Analytics: Updates for live HANA support
- New language support for Hungarian
- Planning: New Examine panel for value driver tree widgets in stories
- Planning: Support for all filter types in planning operations
- Planning: Read/write access detection when publishing
- Planning: ROUND, CEIL, TRUNCATE, FLOOR calculations in stories
Our next #askSAP Analytics Community Call will be on June 15!
The topic is “Delivering the Intelligent Enterprise with Machine Learning” – register here.
Learn with our latest video tutorials
- Create a page that is responsive to a viewer’s screen size
- Change the data source for a model based on live data
- Create a calculated measure in a story
- Create a restricted measure in a story
- Full tutorial playlist >
Core: Data Integration
Next generation data preparation experience now available for all licenses and all data wrangling workflows
The wait is finally over — our next generation data preparation experience is available for all licenses and all tenants! The Import Data, Create Model, and Add Data to Story workflows will be upgraded so that you can take advantage of all the smarter, friendlier features and functionality that is part of this new experience.
- Learn more about the next generation data preparation experience
- Please note there are some minor differences between the workflows regarding geo dimension creation, the history of transforms, and the card view (card view is not available when importing data).
In addition to all the powerful new features like the card view and data sampling, we also introduce “Smart Transformations” that predict, based on your data, what kinds of transformations you may want to apply. This feature is part of the new “Smart Assist” family of features that we cover in more detail below in the Predictive section.
More enhancements for Visual Linking
In the last release, we introduced Visual Linking as a quick and intuitive way to join two or more tables when you import data from a SQL database. In this release, we have some new enhancements for this feature:
- You can now use the new EXCEPTION join type to retrieve all data except the rows that match the query.
- You can now view and edit the SQL generated by your joins, and the resulting query can be saved as a template.
- A query that is currently running can now be canceled before it is complete.
- It is possible to join tables from the following sources: SQL Server 2008, 2012, 2014, and Oracle.
- Learn how to import SQL data to a new or existing model
Guided Machine Discovery is now “Smart Discovery”
We want to help you get more done with less time and effort, so you can focus on the most important part of your work – getting fast insights and making decisions. With release 2017.09, we are proud to introduce a new family of “Smart Assist” features that are designed to help business users get more out of their data — without needing an advanced degree in data science or data analytics.
This includes Smart Insights, which we’ll go into more detail below, Smart Transformation, which we mentioned above in the Data Integration section, and Smart Discovery, which is the new name for our Guided Machine Discovery technology.
Please note we have also updated the icon for Smart Discovery:
Use Smart Discovery to score a numeric target based on key influencers
Within “Smart Discovery” (formerly known as Guided Machine Discoveries), you can now simulate values for your target measure based on key influencers generated by our machine learning technology. It’s a powerful and rapid way to simulate potential sales leads, for example.
Once you’ve chosen a model and a column, you can launch a new Smart Discovery to identify the key business drivers in your data. Once you’ve run the Smart Discovery, you can scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the Show Simulation icon.
Here’s an example of a deal value simulation based on the key influencers identified earlier:
Use Smart Insights to explain a data point in a visualization
“Smart Insights” is another new feature in the Smart Assist family that automatically generates textual and visual “explanations” for a selected data point. It’s a handy tool for getting a quick look at the contributing factors behind each of your data points.
- Note: Certain chart types and scenarios are automatically disabled for this feature (e.g. time series and bubble chart).
- Learn more about Smart Insights
Support for R visualizations in stories
R + SAP Analytics Cloud = Endless possibilities! If you are familiar with the R language, you will be happy to know that we have now added support in stories for visualizations based on R scripts. Once you insert R visualizations into your stories, business users can interact with them using the usual controls and filters. In addition, the visualizations reflect the row-level security set for users.
You can edit R scripts directly within the application using the built-in editor which has syntax highlighting, a preview pane, and samples (K-Means, Multiple Plot, and Jitter Plot).
- R is an open source programming language that includes thousands of packages for advanced visualizations, statistics, machine learning, and much more.
- Learn how to use R in SAP Analytics Cloud
- Learn how to add R visualizations to stories
- NEW! Whitepaper: Using R with SAP BusinessObjects Cloud: Best practices for connecting and running your R environment
Core: Data Analysis, Stories, and Tables
Progressive rendering for charts
Do you need to show a lot of charts and visualizations in your next Digital Boardroom presentation? We’re always looking for ways to improve the experience for you and your audience, and so in this release, we’re happy to bring you progressive rendering for charts.
This feature allows you to see all your charts without any perceived lag in loading time because it can take advantage of cached data on your system (if available). Data that is not cached will be progressively rendered in the background. For this to work, you need to make sure that your tenant administrator has given us permission to cache your charts’ data. They can do this by navigating to System > Administration > Enable Progressive Chart Rendering. Once they’ve enabled the toggle, all you need to do is open your story ahead of time in Story Embed Mode or Digital Boardroom, and allow your charts to fully load. This information is then cached and ready for your presentation.
- Caching is only available for Story Embed Mode and Digital Boardroom. Opening a story in Design mode (i.e. when creating or updating the story) will not cause the data to be cached.
- Data is cached and encrypted for up to an hour. After this period, you will need to refresh if you need to take advantage of the cached data.
- The cache only includes data that is currently visible in the story when it is loaded on screen. For example, if a user opens their story within Story Embed Mode and then decides to modify a chart to display different or additional data, the resulting data will not be the same as the cached data. All other charts will remain cached if the user has not modified them in any way.
- Caching works for data from any source, whether acquired (imported) or remote.
- Other limitations include:
- Impacts charts: Any geo visualizations, tables, input controls, etc. will load as they always have.
- Chart scaling: The cached unscaled version will be displayed until all charts have been fully loaded, and will then change to the scaled version.
- Measure input control: Will not be impacted where the selection is determined on first render.
- Calculation input control: Will not be impacted where a non-CIC version will be rendered first, and then calculations/formulas are processed triggering another re-render.
- Forecast: A non-forecasted version will be rendered first, then the forecast will be performed and will trigger another re-render.
As this is an important feature, we will provide more details on this topic in a separate blog that will be published soon in this community (we’ll share the details here as well as in the next blog).
Drive measures in charts by interacting with non-blended tables
We’ve added a new level of interactivity for tables in your story. During a presentation, you now have the option to select a measure or account name directly on a table to drive the measures shown in a chart.
To enable this, go to the Linked Analysis dialog and select the option “Use this table to control measures”. Once enabled, navigate to a chart and under the charts measure section, select the tables measure (the measure name reflects the tables name).
- Please note this feature is currently only available for non-blended tables, and is not yet enabled for blended tables or chart input control driving tables.
- Learn how to create a linked analysis
Resize multiple columns to fit content
You can now auto-fit multiple columns in a table based on its content, using the “Resize columns to fit content” option.
- By selecting the column headers, your entire column will automatically resize based on the largest cell within that column even though it isn’t showing (i.e. content is visible only when you scroll further down your table).
- However, if you select a few cells across multiple columns, each column will resize based on the largest cell within that given selection for each respective column.
- Please note you can still auto-fit the table widget itself if you select the table instead of a column before you choose the option to resize.
Axis alignment within responsive pages
In the previous release, we introduced responsive page layouts that allow you to create fluid layouts that resize and reflow when you view your pages on different screen sizes. Now in this current release, we’re taking it a step further by making it easier to align your horizontal and vertical axes with the responsive layouts.
Horizontal axes can be aligned across responsive lanes, while vertical axes can be aligned within the same responsive lane. To enable the automatic alignment for an axis, simply move it away from its initial position and it will lock itself to other axes that are likewise enabled. It will remain “locked” until you move it back to its original position.
- Learn how to create a page that is responsive to a viewer’s screen size (video tutorial)
- Learn more about aligning chart axes on a page
Opacity slider support for text widgets, input controls, pictograms, and RSS widgets
Now in addition to setting the transparency of a chart or table via an opacity slider in the Color Picker, you can now set the color transparency of all objects and controls on a canvas page in which the color can be set. This includes text widgets, RSS widgets, input controls, and pictograms.
Core: Location Analytics
Updates for live HANA support
We have a new version of the spatial data delivery unit for live HANA systems, which will allow you to do server-side HANA Spatial clustering for large data.
- This update is enabled for SAP HANA 122.06 and later versions.
- If you are using the Choropleth layer when working with Geo models based on live HANA systems, you will need to download and import the new version of the delivery unit.
- You can find the delivery unit in the Software Download Center within the SAP Support Portal (which you can access using your S-user ID associated with your HANA software) by searching for GEO CONTENT BOBJ Cloud 1.0.
- Refer to the blog, “Using HANA Calculation Views for Location Analytics (Hybrid Scenario)”, for detailed instructions on updating location data using a HANA trigger.
New language support for Hungarian
Hungarian is now a supported language in the application user interface.
- You can change your language settings in your Profile under User Preferences.
New Examine panel for value driver tree widgets in stories
The Examine panel is now available for value driver tree tiles in stories. To access it, simply select the value driver tree and click the Examine icon in the toolbar.
You can select either the entire value driver tree or a specific node to see the data in a table view, within the new panel. This is a handy view that also allows you do some quick data entry.
- Learn more about exploring model data for a value driver tree
- Learn how to add a value driver tree to a canvas page in a story
- Learn how to create a value driver tree (video tutorial)
Support for all filter types in planning operations
With this release, you can now do planning operations like spreading, assigning, and distributing values, as well as data entry on unbooked cells, regardless of the types of filters that are applied to the table.
Filters that exclude selected members or use different hierarchies than the display hierarchy of the table, as well as filters on linked dimensions, hyperlink filters, and calculation input filters are all examples of supported filter types for planning operations.
Read/write access detection when publishing
Sometimes you may want your users to be able to look at some data, but not change parts of it. To do that, you could grant read access to this data for these users, but limit the data that these users would have write access to.
In previous versions, any changes to areas where a user does not have write access would cause the entire set of updates to be rejected by the system, even if the user had write permissions for the other changes. It was an effective way to prevent unintentional changes to protected areas of data, but not necessarily the best experience for the user. So, we decided to improve on this and have built in a smarter way to handle these kinds of unauthorized updates; instead of discarding all changes, the system will now notify the user that some of the changes cannot be saved and will offer the choice to commit only the ones that are permitted.
ROUND, CEIL, TRUNCATE, FLOOR calculations in stories
The ROUND, ABS, CEIL, TRUNCATE, and FLOOR numeric functions have been added for calculations in stories.
- Video tutorials
- Events and recordings
- SAP BusinessObjects help resources
- Official roadmap contains more info on future plans, subject to change.
It's great to hear about the new features and the steady pace of development., but, I just have to leave my thoughts here...
Another name/brand change?!!!
Every time SAP changes the brand it hurts it's credibility with customers and partners. Makes it look like there's no real strategy or direction. It creates additional confusion for both old and new customers in an already complex portfolio. It makes any pre-sales presentation lose 5-10 minutes explaining what was what and what is what now.
Seriously annoyed about that.
Jose Luis Leitao
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, I can totally understand how you feel.
I am not the brand expert at SAP so I cannot give you the ‘official’ word on the topic, however, I can at least offer a little more info. The name change comes with the big announcement this week about the SAP Leonardo “digital innovation system”. IMHO it’s one of the biggest things since HANA for the company and signals a very strategic move (with Mala Anand leading the way) towards a new digital future as the world moves closer together via analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, Big Data, internet of things, and blockchain.
Here are some links to more info if you are interested:
Thanks by the way for reading this blog – I appreciate your support and will continually look for ways to make it better for everyone.
When will a live connection for S/4HANA On-Premise systems be released? I only see a S4H Cloud connection right now in our tenant.
i.e. we want to consume the same CDS Views that have been built for Fiori Embedded Analytics in our "Analytics for Cloud" system. Building native HANA models would not be desirable as it would duplicate effort...
Please see my reply below.
Have you an update for le live connection to S/4HANA ?
Online connection to S4/HANA, on-premise is planned for Q2 2017. Planned as part of roadmap, with the usual disclaimers. The planned online connection will be based on consumption of ABAP-based CDS views/queries.
A new whitepaper is now available on best practices for connecting and running your R environment - link added above in the section on R visualizations.