Companies' requirements for reports and analyses have changed significantly in recent years. Business departments increasingly want a Ad-hoc insight into real-time data from the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to answer questions and make quick, informed decisions. SAP Embedded Analytics makes it possible to achieve this goal. The solution provides easy-to-use self-service analytics directly in SAP S/4HANA. This results in numerous new opportunities and benefits.
Definition: What is SAP Embedded Analytics?
SAP Embedded Analytics is a new analysis approach for the ERP system SAP S/4HANA. Here, evaluations do not take place in a data warehouse such as Business Intelligence (BI) and a Business Warehouse (BW), as is usually the case, but directly in the transactional system. This means that users no longer have to leave the ERP solution to perform analyses.
This is possible because with HANA, SAP has introduced an innovative database that is not only suitable for executing transactions, but also for evaluations. The predecessor systems (SAP ECC and older), on the other hand, were purely transactional and thus not intended for analysis purposes. As a result, the operational data first had to be read out, transformed and made available in an external environment in order to use it for reports. This time-consuming process is no longer necessary thanks to SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics.
Differentiation from SAP BW/4HANA
At first glance, SAP Embedded Analytics can replace a data warehouse. On closer inspection, however, this is not correct. The DW, represented in the current SAP product portfolio by SAP BW/4HANA, offers more extensive possibilities than embedded analytics. Above all, it is capable of consolidating data from a wide variety of sources and providing standardized data models. SAP Embedded Analytics, on the other hand, is limited to operational data (transaction data) from the ERP.
Differentiation from SAP BW/4HANA
SAP Embedded Analytics uses the so-called SAP ABAP Core Data Services (CDS) to create virtual data models for operational reporting. The corresponding CDS views consume the data from the underlying database tables. The Fiori Launchpad is used for the query. The graphical representation is done by the modern Fiori User Interface.
The same Virtual Data Model that SAP Embedded Analytics uses can also be used by other SAP BI tools - including Business Objects and SAP Analytics Cloud, for example. It is also suitable for data extraction into the SAP Business Warehouse (BW).
What functions does SAP Embedded Analytics provide?
With SAP Embedded Analytics, all departments in the company are enabled to perform individual real-time reporting for better business decisions. This applies to the finance area as well as to sales, marketing, procurement and production. To provide the required information, S/4HANA Embedded Analytics primarily uses two ways: dashboards and analytical Fiori apps. The two features are described in more detail below.
SAP currently understands dashboards to mean the embedded SAP Analytics Cloud. In addition to dashboards, SAP Embedded Analytics offers another form of visualization: the presentation of business results in the form of key performance indicators (see next section).
Analytical Fiori Apps
From the end user's perspective, the so-called SAP Fiori Analytical Apps are the heart of SAP Embedded Analytics. They bring a whole range of options for reporting. For example, the role-based (i.e., workspace-related) apps are used for real-time monitoring of important key performance indicators (KPIs). However, they are also suitable for implementing complex aggregations.
Fiori Analytical Apps can be broken down from the user perspective as follows:
- Multidimensional Reports
- Smart Business KPIs
- Analytical List Pages
- Overview Pages
- In-App Analytics & Machine Learning
- Embedded SAP Analytics Cloud Dashboards
Smart Business Apps are primarily intended for monitoring KPIs and operational performance indicators (OPIs).
For a better understanding: KPIs are the main indicators of a company such as total sales or return on sales. OPIs, on the other hand, provide information about specific process steps. OPIs are often used to monitor potential bottlenecks in the processes. A typical OPI, for example, is on-time delivery to customers. Virtual Data Models are used to provide users with direct access to company data. Technically, this is solved with analytical queries or OData queries, whereby the apps operate directly on the HANA database.
Standard Analytical Fiori Apps
S/4HANA comes standard with a whole range of "ready-to-use" applications. The prefabricated and thus quickly deployable apps can be found via the SAP Fiori Apps Library. Just one of many examples is the "Sales Management Overview" application. It provides an overview of incoming orders, incomplete transactions, margins, order backlog, customer returns and several other sales key figures.
SAP Embedded Analytics: Application Examples
The possible uses of SAP Embedded Analytics are extremely diverse. At this point, we will take two scenarios as examples to illustrate the use of the analytical apps:
Application example 1: Analytical app for sales controlling
A good example of an application for SAP Embedded Analytics is project controlling in sales - for example, in the individual production of machines. It is extremely important for companies in this industry to have an overview of their current project costs and revenues at all times. Sales controllers could call up information of this kind in the ERP system, download it and process it further in Excel or PowerPoint, for example. However, this is very time-consuming and involves a certain potential for error.
With S/4HANA Embedded Analytics, on the other hand, information can be analyzed and visualized directly in the system. A detour via third-party systems is no longer necessary. Instead, the required data is provided intuitively via the SAP Fiori Launchpad. Users can use the standard analytical apps from here. For example, there is an app for project reporting that provides information about the current revenue situation. It displays the current status either in tabular or graphical form (e.g., with diagrams). In this way, key figures can be displayed very clearly. If required, it is also possible to jump directly to the individual projects.
Application example 2: KPI report for receivables management
With SAP Embedded Analytics, a whole series of so-called KPI tiles are delivered for the SAP Fiori Launchpad. With these tiles, users can be informed about important indicators on their personal start page. One of the KPI tiles is called "Accounts Receivable". It represents the sum of all overdue receivables. If the user clicks on it, he or she receives more detailed, visually prepared information. In addition, filters can be set (e.g., by company code, customer, or due date period) to examine the receivables portfolio more closely.
What are the benefits of SAP Embedded Analytics?
In classic SAP systems, business users have only a few options for calling up reports at short notice, customizing the content and using functions such as filters, summing or sorting in a straightforward manner. In many places, therefore, an SAP Business Warehouse or a BI tool is used. But even this approach has its weaknesses: First of all, users in this case have to wait for the required data to be loaded from the ERP into the BW environment. In some cases, this is only done at longer intervals for performance reasons. Real-time analyses are therefore not possible. In addition, reports cannot be set up and personalized in self-service.
SAP Embedded Analytics solves these problems. It enables users to analyze transactional data without delay and very conveniently. Thanks to modern Fiori apps, this is even possible on different end devices.
In summary, the benefits of SAP Embedded Analytics are as follows:
- No data transfer to a business warehouse required
- Real-time analyses possible directly in the ERP system
- Drill-down to document level feasible
- Excellent integration with Fiori Launchpad
- Multidimensional reports available (linking multiple reports and report levels)
- Tiles, reports and dashboards can be arranged individually
Conclusion: SAP Embedded Analytics significantly improves data availability
In times of extremely volatile markets, it is essential for companies and their departments to make business decisions based on up-to-the-minute information. The trend is therefore clearly toward self-service analytics that provide real-time data. SAP Embedded Analytics has added this feature to S/4HANA. Since then, users have been able to obtain reliable information from their ERP software very easily and quickly.
And IT also benefits: it no longer needs a separate environment, at least for parts of its data analyses. This reduces effort and costs. Since embedded analytics is part of the standard feature set of S/4HANA anyway, SAP customers should definitely take advantage of the integrated options to tap the associated potential.