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SAP Analytics Cloud for newbies

Disclaimer: This blog has per objective to give and overview and express some thoughts on SAP Analytics Cloud. It was based on own research, but using different sources of information. It is relevant to highlight: SAP Handbook SAC01 , SAP Press book “Introducing SAP Analytics Cloud” by Pravin Datar  and learning section from sap.analytics.cloud site. Update: 08/2020: The book refered is no longer available, but the replacement is the book, also from SAP Press, “SAP Analytics Cloud”  by Abassim Sidliq.

 

Why is SAP Analytics Cloud so important? What can you do with it?

I think that the most important point about SAP Analytics Cloud is that brings a simple, powerful and quick-value-delivery tool for analyzing your data.

It is simple to access, feed the data and play with the information to have nice visual reports and insights on your information.

I see it as a powerful tool for Functional Consultants to bring analytics into their portfolio.

Of course that complex planning, complex analytics structures will require Analytics Consultants, BW Experts, BPC analysts. But when it is required to display data visually and perform data analysis with medium or low complexity it is a great tool.

  • Bring data from multiple sources.
  • You can create dynamic visual stories for different areas of business.
  • Get instant insights on your data.
  • Play with the data to create different scenarios.
  • Collaborate with your team: Send the visualizations, ask them to take action on data, get feedback.

 

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

Some quick use cases that come from the top of my head:

  • I have expertise in Cash Management and Treasury. I think that users would be really interested in getting different visuals on Cash Position and get insights from it. Despite S/4HANA Cash Management has graphic capabilities in FIORI apps, you can bring better insights or analysis on the table.

 

  • If I think of Accounts Receivables, I could create cool dashboards to analyze information from different customers, geo-maps to see receivable performance in different countries, sending reports to manager using collaboration features.

 

  • From an AP perspective, I could prepare analysis reports looking at different dimensions and getting insights from different perspectives.

 

What is SAP Analytics Cloud?

SAP Analytic Cloud is a disruptive cloud solution that allows you to do planning, predictive analytics and business intelligence in a simple and intuitive solution.

It is a Software as a Service Solution (SaaS), built on SAP Cloud Platform and it has the following capabilities:

  • Analytics for Cloud and On-Premise applications without data replication
  • Utilize data from SAP HANA for Analysis
  • Smart discovery and smart analysis capabilities
  • Data modeling
  • Connectivity

It can be hosted in Private or  Public Cloud. It is ready to integrate easily with S/4HANA and HANA.

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

SAP Analytics Cloud it is becoming the primary Data Discover tool for SAP. SAP Lumira will continue to be supported but most of the innovation focus will be in SAC.

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

What type of data and how can you feed into SAP Analytics Cloud?

  • Live data source, coming from an On-Premise data source (SAP HANA, SAP S/4HANA, SAP BW). Not all SAP solutions have live connection (like Success Factors, Fieldglass, etc.)
  • Replicated Data (or also called Acquired Data), for example from Excel. Google BigQuery, OData, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur, etc.
  • Excel, CVS files

There are sections below with a quick overview of integration with SAP BPC, SAP BW and SAP S/4HANA.

Also, SAP Analytics Hub allows you to bring data from your different on-premise and cloud systems and centralize them in a single front-end platform (we will go deeper on this in a future blog).

 

 

Data Models in SAP Analytics Cloud

Data Modelling is the process of setting up, connecting, preparing and finally modeling the data.

Depending on what you want to do, you can create:

  • Analysis Model: Uses the data only in read-mode. You can upload data from an excel, get it from different sources.

 

  • Planning Model: The main difference in Planning model , is that you can generate, input and edit data within the application. It is pre-configured with dimensions for time and and categories.

 

See the options you have to create your model:

Image created by Ignacio Kristof

 

Data Analysis and Visualization with SAP Analytics Cloud.

User experience and visualization are one of the great features of SAP Analytics Cloud. In the next points we will see an overview of some key aspects.

  • Stories: A Story in SAP Analytics Cloud is a collection of charts, texts, images, tables used to generated a nice style presentation for certain audience. With the same data you could create different stories. For example, with data from Sales and Account Receivables, people from Treasury may be interested in DSO, and Sales Management on the Sales per region.

 

To create a Story, you do it from Home Page à Create à Story. And you will find the following options:

  • Access and Explore Data: You can add data from a file, live connection or other sources to explorer the data and create different visuals.
  • Add a Grid Page: You can add data from one or more models and display the information  similarly to an excel sheet.
  • Add a Canvas Page: You can add a Canvas to your story, to show info with a better visual model.
  • Add a Responsive Page: You can create a responsive page for mobile devices. The same model or info will be arranged for mobile device screen.

 

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

Within a Canvas Page, you can:

  • Add Chats, Images, Visualizations.
  • Geo Maps: You can create Geo Maps to analyze geographical data, assisted by the geo-spatial capabilities of HANA.

Image created by Ignacio Kristof

 

Some cool features that you can find when working in your Story:

  • Smart Discovery: By selecting Smart Discovery in the story, it will show some analysis in the information in your model, like Average, largest contributor, etc.

 

Image created by Ignacio Kristof
  • Smart Discovery: It is a predictive analytics tool that helps you to discover different perspective on the data or relations. It will open a new page with new charts and graphics autogenerated.

 

  • R Visualization: R is an open source programming language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. R provides a wide variety of statistical (linear and nonlinear modelling, classical statistical tests, time-series analysis, classification, clustering, …) and graphical techniques, and is highly extensible. It integrates with SAP Analytics Cloud to create visualizations based on R scripts.

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

 

Planning

SAP Analytics Cloud is setting a new standard for Financial Planning & analysis by combining business intelligence and planning, together in the cloud.

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

Several features are available in SAP Analytics Cloud, to execute planning tasks. The core features for planning capabilities are the following ones:

  • Version Management: You can create different versions for the plans and maintain different categories, like Budget and Actuals.
  • Data Entry:  Imagine you have a plan with numbers, and you want to modify it by increasing sales volume or prices, to play with different scenarios. You can simply enter data manually in a table , copy / paste, spread values .
  • Structure Allocations: You can use structured allocations to stablish a reusable process for allocating values. SAC simplifies the process of building complex allocations.
  • Currency: You can display data in different currencies and modify FX rates on the fly.
  • Input Tasks: You can assign a Story Page to users who are responsible for a dimension, for example Sales, and ask them to enter the data directly.
  • Integration with SAP Analysis for MS Office: Analysis for office has not only the  ability to consume data from SAP Analytic Cloud, but contribute directly to SAP Analytics Cloud.
  • Value Driver Tree (VDT): Allows you to play with different models and show the end to end result for the different scenarios.

 

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

To use planning features, you need to work with planning models and have the proper permissions.

To start a simple plan, you can start from a blank model, adding dimensions manually or selecting existing dimensions. The blank planning model includes Actual, Budget, Planning and Forecast as predefined categories.

 

Integration with SAP BW

SAP Analytics Cloud integrates with SAP BW without replication required.  The advantage is that you can use your existing data models in BW to generate views in SAP Analytics Cloud.

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

Check the following comparisons for connectivity options:

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

SAP Analytics Cloud and BPC  

SAC and BPC have bi-directional integration. SAP Analytics Cloud it is not a success for for BPC but a complimentary tool. For example, a company uses BPC as it’s main planning tool but wants to use a Cloud planning app for other line of business.

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

You can do:

  • Batch integration: Makes more usage of SAC calculation engine.
  • Near Real time integration: Makes more use of BPC calculation engine.

Image from SAP Handbook SAPC01

 

As example:

1.I quickly put an Excel toghether with some key data.

2.Uploaded to SAP Analytics Cloud and built a model with AP data:

    • Company Code
    • Country
    • Category of expense
    • Balance to certain dates

 

3.Selected an existing template

4.After editing some aspects , I obtained a visual dashboard much more visual than just a table

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