2020 has turned out to be a year of massive disruption. SAP Analytics Cloud is meant to uncover insight within that.
The new mandate is business agility, as we have seen drastic and immediate shifts in demand upward for some items and downward for others. Sales channels have likewise changed, as companies have struggled to shift their focus from brick-and-mortar to online -- or, in the case of the food industry, for example, to reconfigure product packaging to suit a sudden change in demand.
Throughout all of this, reporting and analytics have played a critical role. Businesses in every industry have recognized the need to forecast early and often, to reassess frequently and to be prepared to adjust course abruptly.
At the same time, though, much of the historic data that has driven predictive analytics is far less meaningful in the context of a dramatically changed world. In the new normal, analysts will need to ignore or discount much of the historic data that has informed their forecasts in the past and will need a sophisticated analytics tool to help. Companies running SAP's ERP software, whether ERP Central Component or S/4HANA, can look to SAP Analytics Cloud for some insight in this new normal.
Built natively on SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP Analytics Cloud provides a comprehensive set of features. SAP Analytics Cloud combines predictive analytics, business intelligence and planning into a single cloud-based, AI-driven data visualization tool. Analytics Cloud is meant to support the rapid flow of information from back-office systems, Microsoft Office and other sources to the decision-makers relying on that information so they can act with agility. Business decision-makers and data analytics can visualize, plan and create predictions all from a single secure, cloud-based environment. Similar to Tableau, another enterprise analytics tool, Analytics Cloud is meant to deliver positive UX by putting those analytics in the hands of users.
Let's consider a few of the pros and cons of SAP Analytics Cloud with respect to business agility:
- Integration. SAP provides the usual hooks into its suite of products, making it relatively easy to build storyboards around SAP-based data. Analytics Cloud offers access to on-premises and cloud data, including HANA, as well as non-SAP applications for on-premises and cloud locations.
- Collaboration. SAP's collaboration and discussion tools are meant to make it easy to share information, comment and solicit input from stakeholders throughout the organization.
- Ease of use for users. SAP does a nice job of making its cloud analytics easy to use. Having said that, SAP Analytics Cloud is a comprehensive product, and as such, it will demand significant attention from IT experts if a company is to get maximum value from it.
The collaboration features of SAP Analytics Cloud are especially important amid all this uncertainty. At a time when companies cannot rely as heavily on historic data, it's beneficial to solicit input from multiple sources, capture that in a workflow process and feed it back to analytics.
Recognizing that reporting and analytics play a critical role in management decisions, smart business leaders will take this opportunity to assess their capabilities and consider how well their current analytics strategies are working for them. SAP Analytics may help them to better understand the opportunities, costs and potential profitability of strategic and tactical shifts, in turn, fostering an environment of more successful business agility.