SAP Cloud for Analytics – first impressions

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016

A lot is happening in the SAP BI spectrum: new versions of Design Studio, Lumira, BI4.2 just went General Available, the acquisition of Roambi. You would almost forget that SAP is working on a completely new front-end platform called SAP Cloud for Analytics (C4A).

Since the TechEd 2015 in Las Vegas, it was possible to register for demo access to this platform. But, almost nobody got an actual login for this. Fortunately I was able to participate in a 3-day SAP Partner Test on C4A at SAP headquarters in Waldorf earlier this month. This gave me the opportunity to work hands-on with the system and to provide direct feedback to the development team.

The idea behind C4A is that SAP wants to create a platform that will contain at least all existing analytical capabilities, which we know from all the other SAP front-end BI tools. The C4A environment is built from scratch and runs completely – and only – in the cloud (unlike old on-premise cloud solutions as for example). This also means that no migration will be possible from existing tools. By the way, the development capacity  for the on-premise tools remains on the same level, so no need to panic. For C4A mostly new developers are recruited.


Data Connectivity
C4A has two strategies on using data from data sources: Import and Online. The import option is very similar to the Lumira scenarios in which the data has to be imported first, and then can be fully customized and used for visualization and analysis. In the online option the data replication is not needed, so the data can be used instantly.

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Posted in: Data visualization, Knowledge sharing, SAP, SAP Analytics Cloud

Dilbert on Pie Charts

Posted by on Feb 1, 2014

Just some Dilbert comics featuring pie charts. OOOH!





Posted in: Data visualization, Fun

Color schemes for charts: Colorbrewer

Posted by on Dec 9, 2012

If you are looking for some nice color schemes to use in  your dashboard or report charts you should check Colorbrewer. Colorbrewer is a color scheme picker, designed for coloring maps.

Such a color scheme should contain colors that are easy to differentiated. In maps this can get difficult when areas are surrounded by a lot of other areas, that also are surrounded by other areas and so on. Differentiating series in charts may not be that complicated, but we can still take advantage of these color schemes designed for maps in our dashboards and reports.

The Colorbrewer tool is easy to use: First you select how many series you want to show. Next you pick the nature of the data. Here you can choose from three types: Sequential schemes (ordered data that progresses from low to high), diverging schemes (equal emphasis on the extremes of a data set, both the lows and the highs) and qualitative schemes (no magnitude difference between series). You can even refine your selection by checking whether a scheme should be colorblind safe, color print friendly or photocopy (b/w) able.

Finally you can pick a color system (RGB, CMYK, HEX) which you can use to set the right colors in your charts.

Check it at!


Posted in: Data visualization

#Juice30days Fav Five

Posted by on Dec 25, 2011

This month I’ve been following the #Juice30days guide by Juice Analytics to learn more on data visualization. You really should check their cool website and blog and follow the 30 days program. They are doing a great job setting this up. I put my Fav Five content in this post.

1. A Guide to Creating Dashboards People Love to Use

This 3-part white paper  gives us best practices and guidelines on how to create and design better dashboards.

Part 1: Foundation helps you identify your target audience, understand what type of dashboard you want to create and why it is valuable to your organization. It concludes guidance regarding how to focus your message on the information and metrics that matter.

Part 2: Structure helps you start on designing your dashboard, including what form it should take, how to design for audience understanding, and what navigation, interactions, and capabilities will make your dashboard useful and engaging.

Finally, Part 3: Information Design dives into the details of interface and information design. You will learn how to lay out your dashboard and best practices for charting and data presentation.

2.  Who is Edward Tufte?

I knew about this guy, but hadn’t read a lot of his work yet. So this story resulted in a very large and expensive visit…

3.  5 Phases of Data Analytics Maturation: Part 1 & 2

I found this article very fun to read since I could plot the stages exactly to the environments at the clients I work(ed) for, especially the Tribal Elders phase, which is – sadly enough – still reality.

In this article the 5 different stages of maturity that information workers go through as they try to become more effective and efficient at consuming and acting on information are explored.

Phase 1: Tribal Elders

Phase 2: Static Reports

Phase 3: Bigger Static Reports

Phase 4: Ad-hoc reports

Phase 5: Experienced Guide

4. Before trying to communicate information, first understand it.

When thinking about information, don’t confuse the medium with the message. Watch it:

5.  30 Resources to Find the Data you Need

Need some data for your latest demo dashboard or report? This list has some nice sources to get you started.

Posted in: Data visualization, Knowledge sharing

Understanding big numbers

Posted by on Dec 22, 2011

Yesterday I saw this picture on my Facebook wall that I have to share with you. It is an easy but extremely powerful example of how you can present the same information in two totally different ways.

Using the big numbers can makes information blurry (which is probably for a reason in this case). People don’t have any real feeling or connection to those billions or trillions besides that it is just a big shitload of money. Transforming these figures to something we can relate to, like our own annual income, makes the numbers understandable again.

Posted in: Data visualization