For anyone who entered the world of Analysis for Office, even for a brief time, you might have become confused with the many acronyms thrown around: AO, AFO SAC Edition, AO, Full Version, AFO for Office 365, AFO Web Edition. With that said, the following will simplify the world of Analysis for Office with the goal that by the end of the blog you have an understanding of which version of Analysis for Office may be suitable for you and your business needs.
History of Analysis for Office
Before we dive into the various versions of Analysis for Office, it is important to set the stage on why and how Analysis for Office came to market. SAP Analysis for Office was released more than 10 years ago as a “premium alternative” to BEx Analyzer; SAP’s previous Excel add-in. Web Application Designer (WAD) was the web-based version of BEx while Analysis for OLAP was, and still is, the web-based version of Analysis for Office. While there were various Analysis tools introduced into the market, the goal and design of these tools was to provide users a pivot table-like experience for “slicing and dicing” tabular data. As these tools began to evolve, three distinct versions of Analysis for Office emerged.
SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office, Edition for SAP Analytics Cloud
The SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office Edition for SAP Analytics Clouds is also referred to as “AFO” and “AFO SAC Edition” and is best suited for SAP Analytics Cloud applications from HANA or BW data models. The AFO SAC Edition enables users to get the most out of their SAP Analytics Cloud license by providing an Excel interface to access data connections established in SAC. To unlock the potential of SAC with AFO, AFO SAC Edition must be installed on your local machine where AFO connects directly to a SAP Analytics Cloud system. Therefore, the AFO SAC Edition’ consumes data through the live or import connection in SAP Analytics Cloud. To reiterate, the data does not live in SAP Analytics Cloud; the user is just able to connect to the HANA or BW live or import connection established in SAC.
For the diagram below, the purple line is the import connection. The blue line is the live connection. When the SAC system is configured a live connection to either HANA or BW is established and maintained.
All in all, there are two main points to remember when thinking about SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office Edition for SAP Analytics Cloud: AFO is included with all SAC licenses and requires SAC credentials to connect to the on premise or cloud data source.
SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office (Formerly SAP BusinessObjects Analysis for Microsoft Office)
The SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office is the longest standing Analysis tool from SAP. SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office is sometimes referred to as “SBOP”, “AO”, “Full Version.”
SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office was released as a premium alternative to the BEx Analyzer. While the AFO SAC Edition is available through the purchase of an SAC license, SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office is not free and is not available to buy by itself. SBOP is available as part of the Business Objects Business Intelligence suite of tools. Though, unlike the SAC version of AFO, users just need one license to leverage the full version of AFO with their HANA or BW connection because the user is not logging into a BOBJ platform; the user is just opening the full version of AFO in Excel and establishing the HANA or BW connection there. An added benefit of this integration with the Business Objects Business Intelligence toolset is the user can log into and connect directly to these systems without an SAC license.
While SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office comes at a price, the SBOP version is the fully featured version of AFO which connects to SAC, BW, HANA, and other supported products. The SBOP version includes everything in the SAC edition plus additional features provided by two plug-ins: EPM Plug-in and BPC Plug-in.
Speaking of plug-ins, SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office consists of three components: Analysis Plug-in, Enterprise Performance Management Plug-in, and BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation Plug-in.
The Analysis Plug-in is similar to SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office, Edition for SAP Analytics Cloud. With the Analysis Plug-in, the user can utilize “SAP Queries, query views, and InfoProvider as data sources which can be displayed in workbook crosstabs.”
The EPM Plug-in component availability and functionality depends on the connection of the user. Depending on the connection, some EPM features will not be supported. The EPM Plug-in gives access to “SAP Business Objects EPM Solutions product data and performs reporting and analysis on this data.” For some data sources, the plug-in permits users to enter data and save it to the database; summarized as data retrieval and data input.
Last, the BPC plug-in allows the user to “execute Microsoft Excel or PowerPoint related tasks for the activities defined on the web client of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation.”
In summary, SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office is included with SAP BusinessObjects licensing and requires SAC, BW, or BOBJ licenses to activate.
SAP Analytics Cloud add-in for Microsoft Office
SAP Analytics Cloud add-in for Microsoft Office is sometimes referred to as “AFO Office for 365” or “AFO Web Edition” as it is a full web-based offering.
The SAP Analytics Cloud add-in for Microsoft Office, released in Spring 2020, is the newest Analysis for Office release that is gaining market attraction for its cloud-based platform and its roadmap with SAP Analytics Clouds for Planning. In essence, the add-in for Microsoft Office was created to give users the ability to plan through SAP Analytics Cloud on an Excel interface while only needing an online Office 365 platform.
When AFO Office for 365 is used with SAC Planning, the Excel add-in provides an Excel based method for performance planning. Therefore, if users want to plan through Excel (and have an SAP Cloud for Planning license) then the AFO Office for 365 is the most appropriate version. While the AFO Office for 365 version is gaining popularity, there are limited features. The feature set is limited to:
- Report on and write back data into different versions on top of SAP Analytics Cloud model
- Pivot and filter
- Add calculations and use formulas
- Collaborate with teammates
With that said, a new release of AFO Office for 365 is expected with feature updates, like the ability to select currencies, which will be available in the AFO Office for 365 version but not the SAC Edition available on desktops.
When thinking about SAP Analytics Cloud, add-in for Microsoft Office, remember that the software is free to download, has limited features (for now) and, like the Edition for SAP Analytics Cloud, requires a SAC license for use.
Now that the distinction has been made for each of the Analysis versions, SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office Edition for SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office, and SAP Analytics Cloud add-in for Microsoft Office, be on the lookout for additional Analysis for Office blogs. In the meantime, please feel free to post your question in the community or reach out to NIMBL or myself with questions or comments.
For additional information, please navigate to the blog, “Extending the reach of SAP Analytics Cloud data from Microsoft Office front ends” by Jeanne Bigonnet, SAP’s Analytics Project Manager.