09-05-2017

About a year and a half ago, SAP launched SAP BusinessObjects Cloud (BOC). Despite the initial lag behind other analytics-tools, the product has rapidly evolved into a mature, comprehensive user-friendly platform. However, with the frequent product changes, it can be hard to keep up. That’s why we are here to provide you with the most relevant updates and practical integration possibilities of SAP BOC.


Figure 1: Homescreen SAP Business Objects Cloud

In this edition, we will illustrate the tool’s features, which are relevant for the daily work of both IT and non-IT professionals. Let us help you understand the ways in which SAP BOC can help you in your daily activities!

This is the third consecutive blog about SAP BusinessObjects Cloud. For more information, check out Pieter and Alexander’sprevious blog posts. Or Ralph’s blog post about the coherent SAP Digital Boardroom.

SAP BusinessObjects Cloud New Features

More than a BI-tool

SAP BusinessObjects Cloud is completely cloud-based (SaaS) that has various data connectors, including a handful of live connections. For example, there is a live connection available for the HANA Cloud Platform. With this, there is no need for data duplication, keeping your data on-premise. SAP will present other live connections to SAP S/4HANA cloud
and on-premise editions in the upcoming quarters. You can expect BW/4HANA, BW 7.4, and SAP BusinessObjects relational Universes with these updates.

Other useful features include the web browser accessibility of SAP BOC. This user-friendly feature saves users from a reliance on desktop-tools, allowing you to use the tool wherever and whenever. In addition to traditional Business Intelligence tools, SAP BOC has the unique capability to integrate Business Intelligence, Predictive Modeling, and Planning into one platform, bringing you, as SAP calls it, Enterprise-wide Analytics.

Gartner confirms this unique combination of features by giving SAP BOC an excellent rating for the critical capability of self-service data preparation in their Critical Capabilities for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms report.

Best features of the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud

SAP BOC facilitates real-time analysis with ease, allowing non-IT departments like Controlling/Analysis, GRC, HR, or Sales to use this tool to execute next-level analysis. These analyses can also be extended with predictive models and planning metrics.

It’s also possible to easily combine exchange rates, long-range strategic planning, and predictive models to forecast figures such as the upcoming turnover and cash flow. These figures can also be shared with the collaboration features, which make it easy to share, discuss, and comment on reports and models.

Integration Ease of Use

Enterprise-wide Self Service Analytics

SAP BOC is easy to use for individuals of all technology expertise. To exemplify this, I will walk you through one of the capabilities of SAP BOC, creating a sales forecast (see Figure 2). In just a couple minutes you can be provided with an in-depth and reliable analysis, even without having knowledge of statistics. With these insights, decisions can be made with full certainty.

Figure 2: Sales graph enhanced with forecasts

This forecast is a regression-based model that has been added to the traditional graph. It gives you both a confidence interval as well as a prediction metric, and allows you to easily adjust the number of periods displayed.

The model even asses the quality of the prediction models. As seen in Figure 3, the quantity prediction for the state California scores a 5 out of 5 (very reliable). However, be careful, don’t go blind in it, a long term prediction always can differ from reality.

Figure 3: SAP BOC can asses the quality of their own generated model

 

The sales forecast in Figure 2 shows a constant trend, but what amount of quantities have to be sold (per state and per manager) to achieve the desired increase of the operational income and the ROI?

To find out, you can combine this sales figures with financial data in a Value Driver Tree to execute what-if analysis. Once calculated, the forecast can be split up to determine the individual sales goals per manager/location/quarter/product.

The last forecast shows just one of the many possibilities where a non-sales professional can create their own next-level analysis with SAP BOC. The SAP BOC product direction is not only aimed at sales professionals, but to all kind of departments and professionals. One of SAP’s goals is to “make predictive analytics available to everyone”, which can be seen in Figure 4, which displays various capabilities of SAP BOC.

Figure 4: Drill down forecast into quarters  © 2017 SAP SE or an SAP affiliate company.

Room for improvement

SAP BOC – in some ways – is a immature product and, therefore, has several areas of improvement. For instance, SAP BusinessObjects Cloud is a SaaS solution but currently lacks the ability to explore or create visualizations on mobile devices. It’s now only accessible via web browsers. Additionally, in contrast to other more traditional BI-tools, SAP BOC also lacks advanced chart types options. However, both items are high priority for the 2017 BOC Roadmap, so new features are to be expected within this year.

Keep an eye to the future

For now, try to imagine how useful SAP BusinessObjects Cloud will be when it’s widely implemented within organizations and used before and in meetings. The collaboration features will contribute to achieving goals more effectively. This business solution can help tap new opportunities and reduce risks. Not to mention the benefits that are created through the live SAP HANA connection.

SAP seems fully aware of their product’s imperfections. To fulfill these areas of improvement,

they created an ambitious roadmap. In the upcoming quarters, SAP will add new data connectors, improve their visualizations and predictive models, and create a Mobile Multi-Device iOS App. We strongly believe that SAP BusinessObjects Cloud will rise in the upcoming quarters to a top market position because it has some cleary unique properties that can be utilized in an accessible and powerful way. Finally, Self Service BI as it’s meant to be!

Has this blog sparked your interest in SAP BO Cloud and would you like to see what it can do for your organisation? Have a look at our website and wait for the upcoming blogs about SAP BOC or contact me!

Curious about SAP BO Cloud? There is a free 30-day trial SAP BOC available. Unfortunately, some features are only accessible with the business or enterprise version. It is also possible to check SAP’s Youtube channel for more in-depth product descriptions and demos. This channel will take you by the hand to explore SAP BusinessObjects Cloud.