By: Pedro Hernandez
SAP’s big bet on cloud-delivered data analytics not only involves adding new intelligent capabilities to SAP Analytics Cloud, it also means bringing many of the product’s capabilities to other SAP business applications.
SAP Analytics Cloud, an artificial intelligence-infused real-time analytics-as-a-service offering, is now directly embedded into the SAP S/4HANA Cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) application suite—not to be confused with the newly launched C/4HANA product targeting the customer relationship management (CRM) market—enabling customers to draw insights from a greater variety of functional domains within an enterprise, the German software maker announced on June 6 during its SAPPHIRE 2018 conference here.
SAP is also arming users of its human resources solutions with the ability to extract deeper insights from their employees. SAP Analytics Cloud is embedded as part of SAP SuccessFactors, the company’s human capital management (HCM) product used by businesses to manage their workforces, announced Mike Flannagan, senior vice president of SAP Analytics and SAP Leonardo, during a panel here.
The move fits into the “Intelligent Enterprise” theme permeating SAPPHIRE this year, according Byron Banks, vice president of marketing at SAP Analytics. Having already digitized information associated with practically every business process within the enterprise, imbuing SAP’s applications with analytics capabilities now can help users make smarter, data-driven decisions.
“I think people thought that digitization was the ultimate answer to everything,” and indeed it has helped enterprises drive new levels of efficiencies, Banks told eWEEK. In the so-called Intelligent Enterprise, enabled by SAP Analytics Cloud’s capabilities, in part, the conversation turns to, “How do I get the information that’s relevant for me, the stuff I need to care about, and how do we automate the stuff that is repetitive?”
Using vacation requests as an example—Banks has handled thousands such requests in his dozen years at SAP—built-in analytics capabilities in an HR application can automatically approve or deny time-off requests based on rules that reflect a user’s management style. More importantly, such a system can alert managers when their workers haven’t taken time off in a while, helping them promote a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout, said Banks.
Happier workforces aside, SAP Analytics Cloud is gaining new features that allow customers to derive insights from their data held in hybrid environments. They include natural language query support, enhanced modeling capabilities and write-back functionality that allows the cloud service to store or “write” its findings to on-premises systems.
SAP Analytics Cloud also works better with third-party solutions.
Until now, the company offered a “couple dozen data source connectors,” mainly addressing compatibility with SAP’s other products, Flannagan said. Now, customers can use over 150 data connectors to access data stored in other applications, including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM and many other leading SaaS solutions.
Still Committed to On-Premises BI
Although SAP is intensely focused on building up its cloud analytics portfolio, customers needn’t worry that the company’s on-premises business intelligence (BI) offerings are being neglected. Disputing the notion that SAP’s “BI product is dead,” Flannagan said it “very much is not, and we will continue to make investments in the portfolio.”
Asserting that SAP is “still very committed to the on-premises BI suite,” Flannagan said more SAP BusinessObjects BI updates and releases are on the way. In the next quarter, the company plans to unfurl its roadmap for the remainder of 2018’s service packs, delivering more clarity about the product’s future to customers.
In 2019, SAP will release SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.3. Altogether, the updates will help extend maintenance and support for the product past 2024. Expecting that existing customers will start dabbling in cloud-based analytics, the company is taking initial steps in transitioning content created using the Lumira Designer data visualization tool to SAP Analytics Cloud, the company said.