One of the core reasons for the success of SAP Analytics Cloud is its unique offering of BI (Business Intelligence), Planning and Predictive in one single cloud solution.
Interestingly, many of our customers want to go one step further and express the desire of a seamless experience combining the power of planning and predictive.
Customers wanted to use time series forecasting at large scale to support their key use cases related to expense forecasting, sales planning, and workforce planning. They wanted to complement the planning and budgeting activities with a data-driven approach to planning.
It is therefore an immense pleasure and honor for me to introduce to you … Predictive Planning! Kudos to our customers & partners to help us imagining such exciting potential (we listened ?) and innovating at the intersection of two disciplines.
As part of this introductory blog, I want to walk you through the “why”, the “what” and the “when” of Predictive Planning:
- Why SAP invested to bring this new experience to life.
- What this means for our customers and to our partners.
- When this will be available in your SAP Analytics Cloud environment (spoiler: it is already available or soon to be).
Part 1: Why did we invest?
The value of SAP Analytics Cloud from day 1 consists in bringing all sides of analytics to one, simple, cloud platform.
One of the important things about Predictive Planning is that it exemplifies the saying that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (first coined by our old friend Aristotle). In other words, the planning process becomes better if it is served by predictive, and in return the predictive outcomes have greater impact if they can be reported and acted upon using planning & visualization capabilities.
This value proposition deeply resonates with our customers, as we have seen in the completion of a successful beta program, with more than half of all participating customers planning to go productive.
Finally, Augmented Analytics (in this case the intelligent augmentation of planning processes) is the secret ingredient to the established analytics practices.
To sum up, Predictive Planning naturally complements the sound value offering of SAP Analytics Cloud and is highly desired by our customers – all good reasons for bringing this to the market!
The “what” consists in three words that we can apply to describe this experience – Smart (what else ?), Self-service and Trusted.
Part 2: What does this mean for you?
This new experience is best described by three words – Smart (what else ?), Self-service and Trusted.
Let me elaborate this:
- Predictive Planning is Smart. It provides the ability to automate data-driven enterprise planning with time series forecasting, through a tight integration. In practice, predictive scenarios can consume planning models as a data source. They can use not only the actuals but also the semantic richness of the concepts that are built in the planning model.
- Predictive Planning is Self-service. This experience is targeted towards line of business users like the office of finance, the sales department, or the human resources department. It does not require IT (Information Technology) or data science abilities. The user experience was carefully thought about to guarantee that business analysts can use this experience with success, without assuming technical skills. Business analysts are truly in the driver’s seat.
- Predictive Planning is Trusted. First, the underlying predictive models are “white boxes” with full transparency, and we surface easy to understand predictive insights together with quality indicators in the model debriefing. Additionally, Predictive Planning should be understood as part of a bigger, end-to-end planning process where the predictive forecasts are reported in stories (or analytic applications) and financial planners add their business judgment to revise them.
Part 3: When can you try it out?
In terms of the “when”, it is simple. The first delivery was made with wave 2020.11 of SAP Analytics Cloud, alongside other improvements brought to the predictive scenarios. For our customers and partners that receive features on a quarterly basis, Predictive Planning is part of the 3rd quarterly release, planned to be delivered by August 15th. And best is everyone with planning models and licenses can take advantage of it.
If you want to know more on the “how”, my colleague Sarah Detzler already shared a detailed how-to tutorial showing Predictive Planning in action. You can also find additional Predictive Planning resources here.
I hope you found this blog useful and I look forward to the wonderful use cases & success stories that you will be able to achieve with Predictive Planning!
Check this 3′ video for a short introduction to Predictive Planning