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Is SAP Analytics Cloud Right For You?


Use Cases And New Updates For SAP’s Cloud-Based Planning Solution

By Graham Jordan

SAP’s Analytics Cloud offering has gone through several iterations to get where it is today: It was branded as SAP Cloud for Planning first, then called BusinessObjects Cloud, and then the name evolved again to SAP Analytics Cloud (and it’s sometimes referred to in the industry as “SAC”).

Not only has the name been updated, but the application itself has regularly added features and functionalities to become a worthy and reliable cloud planning and analytical solution.

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Screenshot: Editing a Story within SAP Analytics Cloud

At a high level, here are the key benefits that potential adopters could be interested in:

  • The software as a service (SaaS) model enables customers to activate planning and reporting capabilities faster than with any on-premise solution
  • Cloud-based data storage avoids many of the costs necessary to launch and support on-premise data storage options
  • The web-based front end means there are no desktop installations to manage, which drastically cuts down on support and maintenance cost. The latest software updates are automatically applied to all platforms (a summary of updates are linked at the bottom of this post).
  • System configuration is much simpler, which means business users can maintain the application without needing IT assistance

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Screenshot: Presentation view using Digital Boardroom

 

However, you should take into consideration some drawbacks compared to other non-cloud planning solutions:

  • The web-based nature of the application limits customization opportunities that might be necessary for more complex business requirements
  • While SAP Analytics Cloud does have numerous pre-configured interfaces for external data sources (particularly SAP data sources), the interfaces will be slower and less integrated compared to desktop-based planning solutions connected to on-premise databases.
  • SAP Analytics Cloud planning is web-based, and therefore does not offer direct Microsoft Excel integration (although it can offer indirect Excel integration if used with BPC)

These points are mostly true for all cloud planning applications when compared to on-premise planning systems. Some features that differentiate SAP Cloud Analytics from other cloud planning offerings include:

  • Predictive Analytics capabilities are accessible directly from the planning interface:

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Screenshot: Predictive Forecast generated within SAP Analytics Cloud

      • Integrated Lumira visualization capabilities offer good chart/graph customization features
      • SAP Analytics Cloud is directly integrated with SAP’s Digital Boardroom offering, which allows interactive presentation capabilities, including the ability to change plan values on the fly while presenting
      • Interfaces to ECC/BW/BPC are included standard. For BPC 11 users, SAP Analytics Cloud has built in BPC integration which allows businesses to get the benefits of both interfaces when planning and reporting data, shared between systems in real time

While we wouldn’t tell you that any planning solution is one-size-fits-all, we think SAC is a great choice for smaller business units, or those who have simpler planning scenarios and are trying to avoid a high-maintenance system. It should also be considered as an option for companies with large SAP installations and have select teams who require a simpler planning interface, such as marketing or operations level planners.

If you’re interested in SAP Analytics Cloud, you’ll benefit from Method360’s SAC Proof Of Concept service, where we take a scenario from your business data and build up an SAP Analytics Cloud planning model around it. This service has been very helpful for executives to make a final decision on whether to move forward with SAP Analytics Cloud.

Please contact us at BPCUpgrades@method360.com to get more information on this topic.

Here are some highlights of recent updates to SAP Analytics Cloud:

Update 2018.01: You can now perform tasks while data is being loaded from a data source
-Enhanced calculation functionality for models based on HANA views
-You can now copy/paste/drag in planning cells
-New view controls in Digital Boardroom
Update 2017.24
-Enhanced chart functionalities
-More dynamic text, scaling, and variance features in Stories
Update 2017.23
-More detail in messages when using planning features
-Enhanced Story preferences

2018 Update Log: https://help.sap.com/doc/00f68c2e08b941f081002fd3691d86a7/release/en-US/c96a267c5da04fff90bb55313ee9f77c.html

2017 Update Log: https://help.sap.com/doc/00f68c2e08b941f081002fd3691d86a7/release/en-US/c54384d4a1b94edea77db624c2b00288.html

Other links:
SAP’s Analytics Cloud page: https://www.sap.com/products/cloud-analytics/features.html


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