Key Functional Deep-Dive between SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (aka Xcelsius) and SAP Analytics Cloud
In this blog post, we will identify nine key functions that are most important or use a lot for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards customers and illustrate how these could be achieved in SAP Analytics Cloud instead.
In this blog post, we will use abbreviation as below
BO Dashboards: SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards
SAC: SAP Analytics Cloud
For main data sources that SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards can access, SAC supports them as data sources accordingly or provide proper alternatives. In addition, SAC has been advanced in many new connection types such as HANA, Cloud data source, Odata etc.
Comparison： Common used data sources supported
|Data Source||BO Dashboards Supported||SAC Supported|
|SAP ERP & S4HANA||
|QassWS (Query as a Web Service)||Yes||
|Web Service Connection||Yes||
|SAP NetWeaver BW Connection||Yes||Yes|
|Excel XML Maps||Yes||
|Live Office Connections||Yes||
|Query connection (Universe/Bex)||Yes||Yes|
|And many more…|
For sensitive data that customer would like to remain them on-premise, SAC supports live data connection methodology to access these data without uploading to the cloud. In SAC, there are two types of data connections are possible. One is Live data connection and another is Import data connection. Unlike import data connection that data will be replicated to SAP Analytics Cloud. Live data connection does not replicate customer’s data in SAP Analytics Cloud. Customers could visualize their business with existing data models remain in source systems. Currently, SAC supports Live data connection for connecting to SAP BW, HANA, HANA Cloud Platform, S/4HANA, S/4HANA Cloud, SAP Universe as native build and more possibilities could be explored with our partner’s offer: APOS Live Data Gateway. With Live data connection, sensitive data could be fully controlled and managed within customers corporate network, visualizations and stories could be updated in real-time in SAC.
Please refer to the detailed data source comparison table here. If you would like to know more about SAC data connection capability, you could also refer to the official website on SAC Data Connection.
2. Charting Capabilities
In SAP BO Dashboards, there are 21 types of charts supported. SAC supports similar and more powerful charts in a structured way. The detailed chart comparison table can be found below.
Charts Types in BO Dashboards
|VS||Chart Types in SAC|
|Pie||Combination Column & Line|
|OHLC||Combination Stacked Column & Line|
|Stacked Column||Trend||Stacked Area|
|Stacked Bar||Time Series|
|Column Line||Distribution||Box Plot|
|Stacked Area||Tree map|
|Filled Radar||Clustter Bubble|
|Vertical Bullet||Numeric Point|
SAC provides standard charts to conform with IBCS and offers chart extensions with scripting capabilities to realize sophisticated requirements by certain SDKs (Custom charting SDK is planned in Q3/Q4 delivery, please keep focused on update from our product plan. It is simple to select any proper chart in Builder panel with a well-organized structure. Users could select chart base on their business needs (eg. User wants to compare KPIs from two groups. Or user wants to know the market trend based on time).
BO Dashboards provides maps of many countries as selectors. With these maps, it is easy to select what region of interest.
SAC using Esri map as base map supporting 12 frequent maps. Multiple layers could be added on the top of the map to enrich the visualization. An example below.
Additionally, SAC Analytics Designer could be leveraged to fulfill other custom map requirement with scripting capabilities. You could know more detailed information for Maps capabilities in SAC here.
Please be aware that the maps widget is supported differently when using Live Data Connections. Please refer to the detailed feature enablement document for Live Data Connections in help.
BO Dashboards is famous for What-if Analysis. It supports a classic simulation scenario that allows customers to self-adjust different variables in order to come up with the proper decision. It can also leverage Excel spreadsheets to do some calculations for the “what if” values.
In SAC, What-if analysis could be realized by calculated measures in SAC stories. Customers can define the calculated relationships among different measures and using restricted measures in slider bar to manage variables. Here is an example.
You could find more information and how to create calculated and restricted measures here.
Customers can also create the ultimate What-if Analysis using Value Driver Tree (Planning License Required), which also helps customers for budgeting, forecasting based on different scenarios, and making better business decisions. It can be easily added into stories for analysis, and also perform calculations on model data directly. An example below.
In BO Dashboards, customers can export models from the Dashboards Designer in different formats. With the exported file, customers can review the content offline and can be shared with others and in any other devices.
SAC supports export functions with the same goal. For stories, Customers can export them into PDF file at any time. In the Data Management screen, customers can easily export data jobs and manage scheduling. Currently SAC support export model data to a flat CSV file, planning data can also be retracted into SAP S/4HANA Cloud, BPC. More information can be found here.
From the collaboration perspective, SAC offers online collaboration functions to allow users to share stories, post comments, have a discussion, even assign task inside of SAC.
6. Global Themes
BO Dashboards leverage Themes to apply the same layout, appearance, and formatting to data models. There are also Color Schemes in BO Dashboards are used to set color platelet components and apply to entire mode.
In SAC, we provide pre-formatted story templates that offer various story template layouts. To ease the story building, customers can directly select layouts from three categories based on the type of story that he/she is trying to create. The same as in BO Dashboards, Customer can change to other Themes (Template) with pre-defined data model remained and auto-mapped to the new template.
The template categories that they can select from:
More information you could find on https://www.sapanalytics.cloud/resources-formatting-stories/
7. Trend Analyzer
Trend Analyzer in BO Dashboards analyzes the data selection and provides an additional data series that can be plotted to display a trend line. It automatically inserts linear, logarithmic calculations into components and forecasts future trends into the specified cells at runtime.
In SAC, we provide Time Series Forecast as an advanced predict function. It allows customers using historical data to predict future values. Customers can choose between several techniques-Automatic forecasting, Triple Exponential Smoothing, and Linear Regression to empower their decision-making process. As with BO Dashboards, the algorithm works by analyzing the historical data to identify the existing patterns, and using those patterns to predict the trend. For more detailed explanation on the technical methods, please refer here.
Furthermore, SAC can take additional influencers into consideration, such as considering if product discount will highly affect the sales revenue except for the time period. More information can be found here.
8. Excel Modelling
BO Dashboards is powerful in leveraging Excel to create the data model. Customers can easily link the component data sets and parameters to source data in embedded spreadsheets. It provides native experiences of using Excel and then visualizes data in a straight way.
SAC provides a smarter way in processing and transforming raw data into a format that is easy to consume and analyze. Empowered by machine learning technology, SAC modeling enhances data wrangling process and experience by suggesting smart transformations and automating repetitive workflows.
The data layouts offer two options, one is grid that looks like a familiar spreadsheet (shown below), and another is Card view which summarizes the view of your data dimensions. In addition, SAC Data Management Screen will bring customers to a specific area where they can manage their draft sources, import and export jobs and scheduling (https://www.sapanalytics.cloud/resource-what-to-expect-in-the-new-and-improved-sap-analytics-cloud-modeller/).
Furthermore, to enable the Excel-native analysis, SAC has also integrated with SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office since 2018. SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office is a Microsoft Office Add-in. Besides basically using SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office as a data source via Universe, SAC planning models can also be consumed as data sources in SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office (edition for SAP Analytics Cloud). Planning users can work in their familiar Microsoft Excel environment and connect directly to SAP Analytics Cloud. Please find more information for AO integration here.
9. Dynamic Dashboards
Dynamic visibility in Dashboards is very popular as it allows you to show and hide the component at runtime. Customers can make a component appear or disappear based on the value inserted in a certain cell. It is useful when the dashboard contains many visual components and don’t want to overload the user with information.
In SAC, Analytic Designer is the exact application that can be leveraged for the same purpose. In Analytics Designer, scripting allows users to define the relationship between different elements on the page and manage widgets behavior including interaction. For dynamic visibility cases, customers can use APIs like “getVisbile” “SetVisible” to script the final behavior of widgets.
For example, customers can write scripts for each of the images/icon we added to create dynamic visibility. So that when we click on the Chart icon, the chart will appear, and the Table will be invisible, and vice versa.
The script example as below picture.
The result of dynamic visibility will be like:
The table turns to the chart shown below, also the chart icon turned to the table icon. Users can do the same to the table icon.
Please find more information on Analytics Designer via the links below