How things have changed since my days with SAP BusinessObjects. Back then, we called the technology “business intelligence,” or BI, and it was revolutionary in its time – which, of course, was not that long ago.
With BI, you could finally begin to make some sense of the vast amount of data that your company or department would collect about anything from supply chain efficiency to sales campaign effectiveness. With the help of the IT team or business analysts, you could get management reports in “at-a-glance” visuals or dashboards instead of trying to parse raw data, or even unfathomable spreadsheets, on your own.
Today, BI has evolved dramatically and is now known more commonly as analytics. The fundamental concept is the same: drill down into data and make sense of it without manual effort. However, now you can do it yourself. Using the advent of new tools and technology, you can create your own reports, graphics, and dashboards by filtering and sorting with a few clicks on your keyboard.
From BI to Self-Service Analytics
Now, SAP partners are using SAP technology – SAP Analytics Cloud, specifically – to create add-ons and integrations to make reporting easier, customizable, distinctive, and task-specific. To learn more, I spoke to my SAP colleague Laura Vega, who is the product manager and partner business content person responsible for SAP Analytics Cloud. Laura, who also came over to SAP in the BusinessObjects acquisition in 2007, has experienced this evolution close up.
“What we call self-service analytics has been driven by several key factors,” she pointed out. “Primarily, the need for agility among our customers to adapt to the pace of business. And that relates directly to the demand for users to be able to access these self-service capabilities via their mobile devices. SAP has been at the forefront of those trends.”
Partners Build DIY Apps with SAP Analytics Cloud
Laura has full appreciation for the brilliance of these new partner apps. Many of the partner apps are available on SAP App Center, the company’s try-and-buy online marketplace. Among many excellent contenders, we chose three new entries to highlight – each of which has already seen a lot of customer interest.
- Visual Crossing: Location Analysis for SAP Analytics Cloud: This app, from long-time SAP partner Visual Crossing, helps users model prospective business locations, proximity to competitors, existing locations, and other relevant entities in the area such as schools, hospitals, and fast-food outlets. Users can combine these models with demographics and other data to make sophisticated predictions about current business locations and optimizing new ones.
- ZoomPro Project Analytics by Intellect Bizware: Designed for engineering, construction, and operations companies, ZoomPro Project Analytics provides insights on project management and progress analysis by using SAP Analytics Cloud. The app provides standard charts, but can easily be customized for project or company-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow managers and executives to stay close to the project from a distance. For example, users can navigate to actual costs versus budget, project profit-and-loss, and completion milestones. They can also simulate what-if scenarios to assess changes to project parameters and create visualizations specific to a request or report type.
- APOS Live Data Gateway: This solution allows for connectivity to a live data source from SAP Analytics Cloud to a range of data sources from other vendors – including on-premise relational, on-premise OLAP, and cloud data sources. The solution is a strong fit for any organizations looking to deploy SAP Analytics Cloud in an environment where non-SAP data sources exist.
See Partner Apps for Yourself
All three solutions are available for free trials on SAP App Center. Laura noted that the apps are also offered as “content packages” in order to be easily consumable, with overview pages explaining the many features and customizing options – widgets, drop-down buttons, dashboards, and so on.
I asked her why SAP Analytics Cloud has quickly become so popular with our partners. “They love the smart features – how with one click you can ‘search to insight,’ create time-series charts, forecasts, and drill down into values. For example, SAP Analytics Cloud will show you all the contributors to a certain KPI. Do you want to see sales by region? Productivity by sales rep? The data is all there using natural language for queries to help you find what you need.”
She added that SAP Analytics Cloud allows partners to build or integrate with all SAP cloud solutions – SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, SAP Concur – providing endless opportunities and opening up a huge market.
And what about the benefits to partners of SAP App Center?
“Partners have instant access to the entire SAP customer base through the SAP App Center,” Laura remarked. “They can not only sell to them directly but also engage with SAP accounts execs in ways they’ve never done before. They can make money in their sleep!”
Bill Rojas is senior director of Digital Transformation and Partner Engagement at SAP.