Embedded analytics in S/4HANA: Where insights and actions meet

Dec 08, 2016

In today’s digital business environment we must respond swiftly to new challenges and opportunities. We need instantaneous insights to make the right decisions in real time and based on the right context. However, traditional IT landscapes weren’t capable of delivering that. Analytics and transactions have always been treated as two separate worlds, making business decisions a time-consuming and complex matter... until now.

The embedded analytics in SAP S/4HANA provide real-time insights into transactional data. With predefined content – visualized in Fiori – the solution offers a kick-start in operational reporting, without the direct need for a separate reporting platform. The information is delivered through Core Data Services (CDS), the new standard for data modelling in S/4HANA. This reflects the push-down strategy of SAP to exploit the power of the HANA platform, resulting in simplicity and speed for the users. Power users are easily able to extend existing views or to model their own views, while these remain transparent for the business user who can focus on the pure insights.

Instant insight for the business

Zooming in on the visualization of embedded analytics, S/4HANA offers three main features via Fiori:

1. Multidimensional Reports enable users to perform self-service data exploration through a user-friendly interface with pivot table and graphical representation.

2. The Smart Business Framework allows business users to build personalized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are represented by color-coded tiles via self-service configuration in the KPI modeler. Additionally, the Analysis Path Framework (APF) allows you to build, save and replay your own created storyline. It is the perfect tool when it comes to analyzing data without knowing in advance what exactly it is you are looking for. 

3. Analytical Fiori apps deliver out-of-the-box content, presented as preconfigured apps like Sales Order Fulfilment. These illustrate the new and exciting paradigm to start from an analytical insight and then directly take action in the transactions.

Fiori app

Hitting the sweet spot

Although S/4HANA embedded analytics greatly simplifies the reporting experience for business users, does this mean we no longer require a dedicated front-end reporting platform such as SAP BusinessObjects or the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud software-as-a-service solution? Well, our answer is no. We still leverage a dedicated reporting platform to provide highly interactive, more complex reports that have the ability to connect to a range of different data sources within the organization. One of these data sources could be a data warehousing solution for strategic analytics.

While S/4HANA embedded analytics connects to your ERP data in real time, business intelligence extends further than that. Data warehousing techniques are required for snapshots of data or when combining different sources with proper data quality checks. In this area, SAP offers us a modern data warehouse solution: BW/4HANA, which will be covered in a future blog. To hit the sweet spot in terms of providing optimal information to the business users via embedded analytics, we have the ability to integrate the SAP BusinessObjects platform. This allows the creation of smart business tiles with a drill-down to BO reports, for instance.

Let the tool guide you

So how exactly does embedded analytics create value for you? Well, by facilitating scenarios that have never been possible before. It will allow you to just log on to the system and automatically see the current status of your business at a glance. Starting from the graphs, you simply click through to take action, drill down to a BO report or move on to the next task. In other words, the embedded analytics in S/4HANA will deliver the real-time operational insights – in combination with more advanced reporting in BO – that every business user has been waiting for as the basis for timely and well-thought-out decisions. 

So, did you already define the KPIs that optimally fit your business? Let's convert S/4HANA into one single source of truth for your business!

Author: Pieter Lootens. You can follow Pieter on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.