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

Posted by on Jul 29, 2022

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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Posted in: Books, Review, SAP Analytics Cloud

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

Posted by on Jul 13, 2022

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

Posted in: Books, Review, SAP Analytics Cloud

Audiobook: The Martian (Andy Weir)

Posted by on Nov 9, 2014

themartianI listened to a great sci-fi audiobook last week: The Martian by Andy Weir. The plot is that a human mission to Mars goes horrible wrong a few days after arrival. The crew has to evacuate when they get in a big dust storm. During the evac the main character Mark Watney is heavily wounded, and believing he didn’t survive it, the other astronauts leave Mars.

Imagine being the only person on a planet, with broken machinery, no way to communicate and very limited food. What would be your plan?

Watney writes a log of all of his experiences and tells us all about the science and calculations he uses to fix things, create water and how to grow food. On Mars! Of course the story also switches to what is happening at NASA back on earth and to the returning spacecraft with the other astronauts.

The narration of this audiobook is excellent. Even when I arrived at home I stayed in the car for a few minutes to finish a chapter or a section of the book. Regarding the story I like the fact that there is no unnecessary/unwanted deviation from the core storyline. So no romantic bs woven into it.

In 2015 a movie will be released based on this novel. Director is Ridley Scott and Mark Watney is portrayed by Matt Damon. Looking forward to that one!

The Martian – Andy Weir – ISBN 978-0091956141 – Audiobook version

Posted in: Books, Review

The End of Work

Posted by on Jan 12, 2014

raceMachSo, where did all the jobs go? And where are future jobs coming from? I recently read the 2011 book Race Against The Machine by Brynjolfsson and McAfee and these guys have an interesting view on these questions.

To answer the where did all the jobs go question the authors take another direction than the standard “the economy is not growing fast enough” or “the economy is stagnating and productivity has stopped rising” reactions. They came up with the End of Work argument, which I don’t think I have heard somewhere before as the reason for the current – and constant – high unemployment.

This End of Work idea states that we don’t have too little technological progress, but instead too much! Fewer people are needed to produce the goods and services we require, and all of this is caused by computer automation. But, not only automation of the “dump & easy” repetitive tasks, also more advanced work is evaporating. Think of translating a conversation in real-time or driving a car. 15 years ago this was almost science fiction but today Google is pretty far with these technologies. And once these jobs are gone they just won’t come back anymore.

The big question is who will be effected most by this End of Work. This is actually the interesting part. If we divide the labour market in low, middle and highly skilled workers, surprisingly the workers in the middle category will be effected most, and not the low skilled workers. Why? In an era of more and faster automation it probably is easier to automate the work of a bookkeeper, translator, call-center agent or taxi-driver, than the work of a gardener or hairdresser. For the latter types of jobs you would need very sophisticated and expensive robots, while a translator will be easily substituted by a free Google Translate service. Imagine the impact this will have on our society.

Here in Holland the babyboomers are leaving the workforce since a few years. This would mean more room for younger people on the job market. But I still don’t see any positive effect on the unemployment rate. Two years ago I even did a SAP BI project myself to fully automate the work of two office employees that were about to retire. And they indeed weren’t replaced by new hirees anymore…

Obviously the jobs that require a lot of teamwork and creativity will stay in high demand. I was happy to see that they specifically named jobs in data visualization and analytics as highly valued, so we are probably safe for now. On the other hand, if you are in a traditional type of job where someones tells you exactly what you have to do every day, you will get in real trouble sooner or later…

Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee – ISBN: 978-0984725113

Posted in: Books, Featured, New technology, Other, Review

Book review: Mastering SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP with SAP NetWeaver BW

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013

hilgefortanalysisolap1SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP is probably the one BI4 tool I have spent the least time in yet. It can be seen as the successor to the BEx Web Analyzer and it is the web counterpart of SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for Office.

For my projects this might be a very useful tool to offer to our users since it is fully integrated in the BI Launchpad platform and doesn’t require any locally installed software (in contrast to the Office edition, which uses an MS Excel plugin).

Ingo Hilgefort wrote an eBook that is fully dedicated to Analysis OLAP in combination with SAP BW as a data source: Mastering SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP with SAP NetWeaver BW.

I picked up the Kindle edition at Amazon.com which was quite cheap at $14,51. I think if you are living in the USA the price will be even lower (around $10) due to ‘some’ taxes we have to pay in the European Union. Anyway, with or without taxes this obviously is no money for this kind of content.

After positioning the tool within the SAP BusinessObjects BI portfolio and discussing the data connectivity options the book quickly dives into the details. Since it is focussed on SAP BW environments as a datasource only, literally all the BW and BEx stuff is discussed: BEx Query elements, variable types, hierarchical functionality and so on. For every one of these features it is stated how Analysis OLAP supports it. Also some comparisons are made with the BEx Web Analyzer and Analysis Office.

Next the book demonstrates in a step-by-step manner the features of Analysis OLAP. Here a load of screenshots are used, so it is very clear what you have to do. I didn’t have access to an environment with Analysis OLAP when reading the book but with the clear texts and figures I could easily follow what was happening. The book ends with a chapter on deployment of Analysis OLAP which gives some interesting performance tweaking tips.

hilgefortanalysisolap3 hilgefortanalysisolap2

I got the book on my Kindle, which is a small device and has no colors. A lot of tables are used in the book and the formatting of them gets messed-up on my Kindle. The screenshots are also quite hard to view. Luckily I can also use the Kindle app on my Mac to view the details. Unfortunately the indexing from chapter 4 and up doesn’t work. So you have to scroll page by page to the right section if you want to look up something in stead of just clicking the section in the table of contents. Hopefully Ingo will fix this and also keep updating the contents of the book every time a new service pack is released. Good stuff!

Mastering SAP BusinessObjects Analysis, edition for OLAP with SAP NetWeaver BW [Kindle Edition] by Ingo Hilgefort.

Posted in: Books, Knowledge sharing, Review, SAP BusinessObjects