Definition

SAP Analytics Cloud

Contributor(s): Jim O'Donnell

SAP Analytics Cloud (or SAP Cloud for Analytics) is a software as a service (SaaS) business intelligence (BI) platform designed by SAP. Analytics Cloud is made specifically with the intent of providing all analytics capabilities to all users in one product.

SAP Analytics Cloud evolved out of the SAP Cloud for Planning product, which was released in February 2015. In addition to business planning, the other key components are BI (for reporting, dashboarding, data-discovery and visualization), predictive analytics and governance, risk, and compliance (GRC). The BI functions released in November 2015 and the predictive capabilities were added at a later date.

Built natively on SAP HANA Cloud Platform (HCP), SAP Analytics Cloud allows data analysts and business decision makers to visualize, plan and make predictions all from one secure, cloud-based environment. SAP claims this differs from other BI platforms, which often require data to be integrated from various sources and users to jump between different applications when performing tasks, such as creating reports. With all the data sources and analytics functions in one product, Analytics Cloud users can work more efficiently, according to SAP. The key functions are accessed from the same user interface that is designed for ease-of-use for business users.

Features and Benefits

Additional features include:

  • Integration with SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office: This includes read and write functions for users who want to import data and work in readily familiar environments.
  • Data locking and enhanced data access rights: Used for forecasting processes, where responsibilities held by planners are enforced by data locking and additional locked states (open, locked and restricted) are defined by enhanced data access rights.
  • Predictive analytics: Implements machine learning to perform guided analysis using Smart Discovery, transformations and insights.
  • Access to on-premise and cloud data: Provides real-time access to SAP applications such as HANA, as well as non-SAP applications for on-premise and cloud locations.
  • Embedded analytics: Allows for users to access analytic features such as what-if analysis and ad-hoc.
  • Access to SAP S/4HANA: This combines transactions, analytics, and planning in one application.
  • Creation and modification tools: For data-driven budgeting, analysis, and forecasting from one cloud interface.

SAP Analytics Cloud vs Tableau        

Tableau is another enterprise analytics tool similar to SAP Analytics Cloud. Tableau, however, is separated into specific desktop, server and online applications. Tableau Desktop is a desktop application, Online is the software as a service offering, and Server is used across enterprise organizations for sharing reports, dashboards and data sources.

Tableau features include:

  • REST API
  • Document API for .twb and .tds files
  • No-code data queries
  • Sharable and embedded dashboards
  • Dashboards for mobile devices
  • Management for metadata
  • Rollback revision history

Tableau can be just as user-friendly as SAP Analytics Cloud; however, data preparation and blending options are limited, product support is limited and the software may run slower on older hardware. Tableau does act as an efficient data visualization tool and is a considerable alternative to SAP Analytics Cloud.

SAP has other cloud-based BI products, including SAP Lumira Cloud, BI OnDemand and CrystalReports.com, as well as a cloud-hosted version of its SAP BusinessObjects BI platform, but these have more limited functionality than Cloud for Analytics and are based on moving existing content to the cloud.

This was last updated in January 2019

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