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Sometimes the best SAP analytics tools aren't made by SAP

Having a detailed business intelligence game plan -- and a firm understanding of SAP and third-party tools -- is essential in any SAP analytics strategy.

The world is awash in big data, and companies are turning to business intelligence and analytics tools to help them handle it. SAP users have a rich set of options from SAP itself, but there are many analytics tools from other vendors and many ways to integrate data from disparate sources into SAP analytics applications. A well-informed game plan can help you sort through the available options for using third-party and SAP analytics tools in SAP systems.

First, take a look at third-party analytics options for SAP and the main mechanisms for integrating them with SAP ERP data, including Business Warehouse and the HANA in-memory database. Industry analysts and other experts can give advice on the pluses and minuses of using third-party software instead of SAP's own tools.

Next, SAP Cloud for Analytics (CforA), is SAP's latest attempt at a cloud business intelligence (BI) platform. However, what does it bring to the table and how do its features compare to those offered by the other SAP BI platforms -- including SAP Lumira Cloud, SAP BusinessObject BI OnDemand, and CrystalReports.com? One of CforA's top advantages is that it is cloud-first from the ground up and can integrate and support data from a variety of sources. Because much of this data is cloud-sourced -- many organizations have data in SAP's cloud offerings, such as HANA Cloud Platform, SuccessFactors and Ariba -- it makes sense to use CforA for any new development with that data.

Finally, there are an ever-growing number of SAP Internet of Things (IoT) products, and it can be quite challenging to figure out how to integrate them with ERP and data analytics. For example, the IoT plays an increasing role in supply-chain analytics, a major part of which involves integrating big data from a variety of sources. Much of the big data that SAP needs to integrate for IoT applications comes from non-SAP sources, particularly industry sectors such as logistics, defense, construction and agriculture where SAP is less prominent.

Next Steps

Compare SAP HANA and BW

Integrate SAP Predictive Analytics and Lumira

Get more expert advice on SAP BI options

This was first published in January 2016

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