In this blog , I want to write about SAP Analytics Cloud Platform (SAC) from a Data analysts perspective. My goal was to explore SAC feature/ functionalities and try to relate them with day today BI and business process. Functionality I typically check in a solution before advising the same to customers (seeking analytic and BI solutions).
Lets start with describing “What is SAC” ?
- Intro – Basic intro to SAP Analytics Cloud – here (3 min YouTube video)
- Cloud Based Application – Analytics application hosted on cloud. Default offering is on SAP Cloud Platform (aka SCP). However, SAC can run on AWS (Amazon Web Services) and GCP (Google Cloud Platform) as well. In short any provider with PaaS (Platform as a Service) provider.
- Easy Access – No need to download or install anything locally. UI access via web browser. Hence OS (Windows/ Mac) independent platform.
- End user Focused Tool – Strong visualization , data warehousing and data wrangling capabilities. Connect -> Prepare -> Analyze -> Share
- Cross Platform/ Device operability – Visualization are device independent (auto adjust canvas/ responsive). Entire application and visualization can be access via desktop, ipad, iphone and android devices. SAC also comes with SAP Analytics Cloud app.
- Smart Modeling Capabilities – Tableau users, would love to see familiar drag and drop excel data and then convert it into interactive visualization. In short, data modeling and visualization can be left on the system itself – Smart Modeling Capabilities (system suggests and build data models). Platform also supports agile development approach. In fact users can skip model creation step completely, if needed.
- Smart Insights and Smart Discovery (machine learning) – We sometime encounter user who don’t know what they want. This state of mind changes when, they see some examples of reports and visualization. This tool supports “Smart Insights” here (2mins YouTube video): where SAC does the thinking for you and offers multiple insights of same data slice. Later user can choose and customize them or use them as is. SAC also supports “Smart Discovery” here (3 min YouTube video)– where someone wants to know the cause of certain scenario (over budget/ expense over threshold), without manually drilling down to different sets of data. Tool does the discovery for you.
- Compliance and Data Security Over Internet – Client data never leaves client network (live datasouce connection). Cloud only stores Meta data. This makes SAC compliant with company policies. Beside SAC can be configured to be available inside network only or over VPN (if needed). Data encryption requirements remains the same as source/database as data never leaves client network. Meta data sharing via CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing). A possible hybrid scenario can be implemented, depending upon company policy and requirement.
- Analytics On Consolidated Data – Can help with consolidation of SAP (ERP, BW, Ariba, FieldGlass, Concur, HANA, S/4HANA, C/4HANA and BW/4HANA, BPC, Fiori, SAP BusinessObjects) and Non SAP data. Supports vast array of non-SAP sources (Oracle, Google BigQuery, Salesforce, SQL, Teradata, Concur, Datalake, MSSQL, LongView DataMart included).
- Tandem With S/4HANA – Supports Live and data acquisition based reporting. Therefore, this becomes an idle candidate when it comes to reporting on top of S/4HANA and requirement demands live reports.
- Planning and Predictive Support – Supports planning and predictive, as stand-alone BI application or on top of BPC with live connection. BPC can be a strong proposal when it comes to consolidation of different planning system (cross company). Beside SAC allows read and write back to BPC. Not to mention if we are going with all Cloud proposal, BPC can be hosted on cloud along with other proposed cloud solutions.
- Excel Add-in Support – For Excel loving power users – it supports Excel based reporting tools – SAP Analysis for MS Office. This is in additional of browser based UI
- User Authentication and SSO – Supports Local or cloud based Authentication provider –SSO. Access (data/ navigation/ folder/ reports/ stories/ model) can be granted based on “team”/groups in SAC. This team/group definition can be pulled local AD.
- Business Content – Offers business contents for rapid development and deployment. Install business contents from SAP library and connect data source (with or without any transformation). Includes SAP best practices. So, no need to develop from scratch
- As with most of the popular cloud providers- UI performance and availability becomes reliable, due to cross continent data center availability. Hence, two users sitting half way across the globe can enjoy similar user experience.
- Natural language support – this means users can search by their own sentences for data discovery and analysis (example: “show me revenue from Poland”, “What is collection from Poland”) SAC smart insight will discover data point from underneath AR Data. Conversational insight also show the root cause of the results as well (example: along with revenue from Poland, statement like the top contribution from customer etc.)
SAP came up with a niche product that address modern day BI and AI based requirements. Cost structure is kept competitive keeping in mind other similar non SAP BI/predictive solutions in market. Addition of Planning angle give it extra edge. Compare its planning capabilities to IDT or BPC is still early. Yet to see how SAC fit in as a stand alone planning solution for large enterprises.
Disclaimer: The observations that I am sharing in my blogs and the information I am presenting are collected in a careful manner by myself with the help of my fellow colleagues. However, they are not “official” guidelines released by SAP. Also, the information can be outdated as the platform is developed further. So I personally cannot guarantee for the correctness of everything I am writing about in these articles and I do not speak for SAP when I am giving you recommendations.