S/4 HANA Embedded Analytics and SAP Business Objects (EN)

The Goal of this Blog is to explain some of the Shortcomings with the Embedded Analytics Concept in S/4HANA and how could be SAP Business Objects Platform used as a Solution to overcome these hurdles.

What is S/4HANA Embedded Analytics?

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding S/4HANA Embedded Analytics in recent times. S/4HANA is the next generation Business Suite which runs on SAP’s in- Memory Platform HANA. It offers a lot of new and exciting features like:

  • Fiori Based User Experience / Interface
  • Simplified Data modeling using ABAP CDS Views
  • Real time Operational Reporting with Embedded Analytics
  • Business Planning with SAP BPC

S/4HANA Embedded Analytics allows the user to perform real time reporting directly on the operational data without the need to switch between two different systems for analytical and transactional requirements like SAP ERP and SAP BW, for instance. S/4HANA provides a variety of pre-defined ready-to-use Analytics content e.g.: Smart Business cockpits, Multi-Dimensional Reports, FIORI Apps as well as an Embedded BW System, which basically combines the OLTP and OLAP functionalities in a single system and eliminates the need of an additional data warehousing system as well as the time consuming ETL process. The S/4 Analytical Content could be accessed via. FIORI Launchpad or SAP Portal.

Can Embedded Analytics fulfill all Reporting Requirements?

Embedded Analytics is the integration of analytical content and capabilities within the operational system for ex: ERP System. With the help of a Virtual Data Model based on ABAP Core Data Services (CDS) for calculating key figures and processing of data ensuring high performance in a FIORI based user experience to the end-user. Additionally, the S/4 ABAP CDS Views can be exposed to external front end tools for reporting like SAP Lumira and Analysis for Office. But the big question is: Can Embedded Analytics fulfill all the reporting requirements across different functional areas and source systems within an organization? The answer would perhaps be No. This blog addresses some of the shortcomings of S/4HANA Embedded Analytics and how we can use SAP Business Objects Platform to overcome these problems.

Where are the Painpoints with S/4 Embedded Analytics?

S/4 Embedded Analytics does provide some interesting features, but a few key analytic functionalities that an end user would expect from an analytics platform are still missing 🙁  .

Let us have a look at some of them here:

  • The ability to schedule Reports on a regular basis und dynamically distribute the reports to different recipients (Dynamic Report Publication).
  • Be able to write comments in the reports and save them centrally.
  • Possibility to combine data from other data sources directly in report ex: from Excel or any other 3rd party data source.
  • Geo Data Visualizations

Moreover, Embedded Analytics is more focused on real time operational reporting and not for historical data reporting. In such a case, it is recommended to use SAP BW on HANA or BW4HANA as the primary Data warehousing Solution in combination with S/4HANA System.

How does SAP Business Objects fulfill complex Reporting Requirements?

Here, SAP Business Objects comes to the rescue and is the perfect solution for all the shortcomings mentioned in the last section. SAP Business Objects is a complete and comprehensive analytics solution that has been in the market for a long time. SAP Business objects offers a range of analytic tools based on user requirements e.g.:

  • Web intelligence for ad hoc reporting
  • Crystal Reports for pixel perfect professional reports
  • Lumira Discovery for self-service and data visualizations
  • Lumira Designer for dashboards and cockpits
  • Analysis for Office for Excel integration

In addition to the reporting tools, SAP Business Objects offers Data modeling tools like the Information Design Tool and Universe Design Tool for creating semantically driven data marts known as a Universe, a web based portal called BI Launchpad for accessing the reports and a web based tool for BO Administrators called BO CMC. An added advantage is that existing S/4HANA Authorizations, Roles and Users can be imported and completely integrated with SAP BO Authorization concept. The end user can consume all SAP BO related content via. different channels like a web browser, mobile device or even offline 🙂 .

Integration between S/4HANA and Business Objects?

There are a number of options available for integrating S/4HANA with the SAP Business objects platform. Some BO tools like Lumira and Analysis for Office can directly access the ABAP CDS views. For the rest of the reporting tools either an SAP BO OLAP Connection can be created to access CDS views or the BEx queries in the S/4HANA system or a relational database connection could be created on the underlying HANA Database of the S/4 System to access data via. Calculation or Analytic views. SAP recommends the first approach for accessing S/4 data as CDS views would be the way ahead for data modeling in the future for all SAP Systems. On top of this OLAP or relational connection, an SAP Business Objects Universe could also be created in order to implement additional business logic if required, e.g.: additional calculations required for reporting.

Conclusion

Embedded Analytics in S/4 HANA is an exciting and a futuristic concept for the Digital Organization, which provides direct access to operational reports with in the ERP System. But Currently Embedded Analytics is not matured enough to fulfill all the Reporting requirements especially publication or comments which are expected from an analytics platform and in this case SAP Business Objects is an appropriate solution because it offers excellent integration with S/4 ,a range of reporting tools, Data modeling options. Not only from a technical perspective but also from a cost perspective SAP BO Platform is “best of the breed” analytics platform supporting Big Data sources, multi-Source Reporting with a robust semantic layer ,a broad range of analytics tools including Fiori UX (BO 4.2).