Book review: Designing Dashboards with SAP Analytics Cloud (SAP Press)

Posted by on Jul 29, 2022 in Books, Review, SAP Analytics Cloud | No Comments

Developing dashboards and reports with SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) does not only require skills on using the tool itself, but also some fundamental knowledge on how to design a dashboard and how to communicate data in a proper way. Of course, there are already some good books and resources on how to work with SAC and we have numerous books on dashboard design and concepts as IBCS. This book by SAP Press – Designing Dashboards with SAP Analytics Cloud – aims to bridge these two topics and bring these theoretical design concepts into practice in SAC.

The book starts with some pretty extensive chapters on dashboard design principles (they define their “10 golden rules”) and process-related success factors, from understanding the user requirements till measuring the success of dashboard after deployment. It’s a bit dry to read (lots of text) but it definitely contains some interesting stuff, especially if you’re pretty new to this. 

The majority of the book leads you through the practical side of these fundamentals with a series of sample scenarios. We get lots of screenshots and lots of different visualization types (charts). It not only shows you what is possible, but also how to achieve this in SAC in a step-by-step manner. However, I don’t really understand why the authors chose to split the scenarios (and chapters) by for example connectivity type (acquired vs live). It shouldn’t really matter where the data comes from to design a good dashboard, right? Anyway, it at least gives us some more examples to learn from. 

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Dashboards are dead? Really?

Posted by on Jul 28, 2022 in SAP Analytics Cloud | One Comment

I saw this nice discussion on LinkedIn last week on the state of dashboarding. And yes, I was as surprised as you to see a relevant, professional post on this platform in 2022, as LinkedIn has turned into some sort of Facebook lately, but okay… 😅  

The premise of the post was that dashboarding has gone completely out of hand: everybody now creates his own version of the truth with all these modern easy-to-use tools. An interesting memo by ThoughtSpot called Dashboards are dead was included with some thoughts on a different approach for data analysis. The ThoughtSpot solution is driven by natural language search (NLS) and artificial intelligence (AI) and it actually ranks pretty high on the Gartner Quadrant for Analytics and BI. This is actually a very current topic as SAP acquired Askdata last week! Askdata also operates in this area and can be expected to further extend the “Search to Insight” capabilities in SAP Analytics Cloud.  

Time wasted

Although this “Dashboards are dead” document by ThoughtSpot is obviously created for marketing, it does give some interesting insights on how dashboarding and reporting is approached, especially in the world outside of our SAP bubble. Some comments made me scratch my head though. One of the narratives here is that although we have all these fancy dashboards now, still a lot of time is wasted in keeping them up to date with proper data (chapter 3). I actually do recognize this from some projects where we were asked to rebuild/develop some PowerBI solution that had grown out of hand and indeed couldn’t be maintained anymore. But, I absolutely don’t agree that this is because of the tools that are used. 

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Book review: Security for SAP Analytics Cloud – Authorizations and Provisioning

Posted by on Jul 13, 2022 in Books, Review, SAP Analytics Cloud | No Comments

It’s been a while since I reviewed some SAP related books here at HackingSAP.com and what better way to pick this up again than with a book on SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) that was even written by my very own Interdobs colleague Martijn van Foeken! 

Security for SAP Analytics Cloud – Authorizations and Provisioning is a so called SAP Press E-Bites. These are digital-only (PDF, ePub, online) books on specific topics and tasks, with a length of around 100 pages.

The configuration of your SAC platform is (hopefully) something you do only at the start of a new SAC implementation and – if properly done – take advantage of for years after. For authorizations this means that you design and apply a solid authorization setup and only need to extend this with additional folders and/or teams whenever this is necessary. That’s what this book will help you with. 

Martijn walks you through the steps of managing users, teams, roles, folders and other SAC objects that users can create. He shows you how to do all this manually within the SAC platform itself, but also how to move the whole user management completely out of SAC by connecting the SAC tenant to a custom Identity Provider (IDP). Microsoft Azure is often used for this and is therefor also used as an example in the book. With such a setup we can for example let users login with their Microsoft credentials and let the system automatically generate a SAC account when a new user logs in for the first time. Martijn also describes how to assign users to teams and roles by using SAML attribute mapping. With this you can use security groups in your custom IDP to manage team and role memberships in SAC. The book ends with a chapter on automated (mass) user and team provisioning via a REST API. 

So in conclusion, this E-Bite is a quick read on SAC authorizations and it will give you a good understanding of what is possible and how to apply the various options in a step-by-step manner. As this is a very fundamental topic for a successful implementation of SAC, but probably not something you work at on a daily base, this E-Bite is definitely something to check out if you want to get up to speed fast!

Security for SAP Analytics Cloud: Authorizations and Provisioning
Martijn van Foeken
98 pages, E-book formats: EPUB, MOBI, PDF, online
ISBN 978-1-4932-2254-4

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms 2022

Posted by on Apr 5, 2022 in SAP Analytics Cloud | No Comments

It’s that time of the year again: Gartner just published its holy Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence (ABI) Platforms for 2022! Our beloved SAP Analytics Cloud is SAP’s offering in this area and is compared to tools as PowerBI (Microsoft), Tableau (SalesForce) and Qlik.

Status Quo?

When I look at the sections in the report for these four players I’m surprised how little has changed since the 2021 quadrant. I could basically just repeat most of the comments that I wrote in last year’s blog here.

Microsoft is still the top leader with PowerBI, Tableau is a strong number 2 and even Qlik is still regarded as a “leader”. Besides the (obvious) ability to deliver a proper technical solution, PowerBI and Tableau already have a very high adoption and with their extremely rich and active user communities it is very unlikely that they will loose this position any time soon. On that topic, SAP is still paying for trashing their (BOBJ) community years ago and has to build this back up from scratch. Fortunately, I do see that SAP is actually showing some very good progress on this and it is definitely going into the right direction again (I’m still not a fan of the community site in its current form though, but that’s another topic).

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SAP Analytics Cloud Fast Track Release Notes 2022.2

Posted by on Jan 20, 2022 in SAP Analytics Cloud | One Comment

As SAP decided to stop publicly sharing the SAP Analytics Cloud Fast Track release notes with Quarterly Release Cycle customers, I’ll just share them here on my blog for those of you who are interested on what’s coming up.

UPDATE: SAP reverted the decision and is sharing the release notes again! 🎉

SAP Analytics Cloud Version 2022.2 Release Notes

General

  • It’s now possible to add additional hierarchies to the account dimension of your models. You can either model your hierarchies manually in SAP Analytics Cloud data modeling or directly import from your source system. This brings you not only more capabilities in data modeling but allows also for more flexibility in designing your planning and analytical assets, in Stories as well as in Analytics Designer.

    Multiple account hierarchies are useful if you want to aggregate the values of your accounts differently according to your planning and analytical needs. You could, for instance, create dedicated hierarchies for specific accounting standards (for example, IFRS versus non-IFRS). Or you could define hierarchies that are only for specific reports (for example, OPEX versus Profit & Loss report) while others are used in planning processes to collect data.Planning-specific features, such as Validation Rules or Data Actions, are capable of consuming multiple account hierarchies and will benefit from this feature as well.

Stories

  • You can now use SAP Analytics Cloud to save BW Query variants.
  • You can now manually export stories to PDF format from Optimized View Mode. You have these export options:
    • Insert Appendix
    • Export All Pages OR Range

Mobile

  • The Android App now supports proxy settings pushed through MDM tools.

SAP Analytics Cloud, add-in for Microsoft Office

  • The SAP Analytics Cloud, add-in for Microsoft Office has been updated. For a list of new features, see the What’s New.

System Administration Notes

  • With the 2022.2 release of SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Analytics Cloud agent’s minimum version remains at 1.0.75, with the following exceptions:
    • If you require data acquisition from SAP ERP / SQL Database, the minimum version is 1.0.99.
    • If you require data acquisition from SAP Universe (UNX), the minimum version is 1.0.91.
    • If you require data acquisition from SAP Business Warehouse (BW), the minimum version is 1.0.233.
    • If you require data acquisition from an SAP HANA view, the minimum version is 1.0.235.
    • If you require data acquisition from File Server, you need to upgrade to version 1.0.248.
    • NoteAlthough it is not required, you can upgrade to the agent version 1.0.345, no matter what data acquisition type you use. Do this to take advantage of updates made to SAP Analytics Cloud agent.For more information, see System Requirements and Technical Prerequisites.
  • Regarding supported features and required updates for the integration of SAP BW with SAP Analytics Cloud, refer to SAP Note 2541557 for further details.
  • Regarding supported features and required updates for live universe access through SAP BusinessObjects Live Data Connect with SAP Analytics Cloud, refer to SAP Note 2771921 for further details.