S/4 Embedded Analytics and Why This Solution Is Important for Your Organization

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SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics is one of the key innovations of S/4. It is a collection of SAP Fiori® tiles in SAP S/4HANA that enable real time operational reporting in your transactional system. There is no ETL (Data Extraction, Transformation, and Loading) and batch processing required, compared to traditional reporting landscapes involving ERP and data warehouse systems. Embedded Analytics uses SAP Fiori as the front-end user interface and SAP has delivered standard content known as Fiori analytical apps for various functional areas. Standard content can be leveraged right out of the box as an accelerator for your implementation and can also be personalized and extended based on business requirements.

Why should I use S/4 Embedded Analytics?

Providing the right information to the right person in a timely fashion is one of the key challenges in data analytics. SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics offers some key advantages over the classic reporting system:

  • Allows data to be analyzed in real-time and delivers timely data to support business decisions.
  • Seamless integration of analytics in business processes – transactions and analytics are often handled separately, but in most cases, business processes consist of a recurring sequence of transactions and analytics. S/4 Embedded Analytics allows organizations to embed real-time business analytics within the context of a business process.
  • Insight to action – S/4 Embedded Analytics provides the ability to drill from the report level to the transaction level in real time. This feature enables the user to take necessary actions right away without having to launch multiple applications or transactions.
  • Provides self service capabilities to the power users, allow them to create their own queries and KPI tiles.
  • Re-use of data models in all analytical applications – same data model used by Embedded Analytics can be consumed by other BI tools such as Business Objects and SAP Analytics Cloud. Same data model can also be used for data extraction to SAP Business Warehouse (BW).
  • Provides a consistent look and feel across the entire system, on all device types (desktop, tablet, mobile phone).

Architecture

Backend

Generally speaking – SAP S/4HANA uses SAP ABAP® CDS Views as the virtual data model for embedded analytics. ABAP CDS views are built based on the transaction and master data tables of SAP S/4HANA.

The ABAP CDS views are developed, maintained, and enhanced in the ABAP layer of the SAP S/4HANA system. The system creates SQL runtime views in SAP HANA to execute the readout and transformation of the data within the SAP HANA database layer.

Front end

The front-end user interface for Embedded Analytics is Fiori, however, it is also possible to create reports using SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP® BusinessObjects and non-SAP reporting tools.

With S/4 Cloud edition and S/4 on-premise 2020+, SAP Analytics Cloud can be embedded into the S/4 system. You can view the stories that were created in the SAP Analytics Cloud system, in the SAP S/4HANA system. Furthermore, you can use these stories to create applications and launch them from the SAP Fiori launchpad.

Different types of S/4 Embedded Analytics

S/4 Embedded analytics comes in different types and flavors, some of the main variations are:

Multidimensional Reporting Includes functions to quickly perform exploratory analyses. These include ad hoc filtering, pivoting, sorting, and reordering of data in tabular or graphical form.
SAP Smart Business KPIs The preconfigured apps based on SAP Fiori offer immediate and transparent access to information in the form of KPI cockpits and can be flexibly modified and extended. End users can easily monitor values based on KPI visualizations. KPI visualizations are identified by semantic colors based on pre-defined target and threshold values. User can further drill down to the next level of detail or transactional apps.
Analytical List PageMix analytical and transactional activities in a single report interface. Display table (detail level info) or chart (aggregated level info) or a combination. User can take action directly in the same app or navigate to other apps.
Overview PagesProvide the end user with dashboards in the form of analytical tiles (cards) for various functional areas. These tiles (cards) provide insights from a big picture to help end users understand and make decisions faster.
Analysis Path Framework (APF)Interactive, chart-oriented analytical drilldown apps based on different data sources. Allows users to explore data step by step to analyze and investigate root causes.
Drill down steps can be configured by power users.

Extensibility

Some of the standard SAP content can be used as it is. In other cases, some level of customization or extension is required to meet specific business requirements. The following Fiori In-App extensibility tools and Fiori apps are available to build custom reporting content or extend standard reporting content in S/4:

Fiori Application / ToolsCapabilities
Custom Analytical QueriesHelps power users in defining structured queries without understanding the query language or technical details. Users can create Restricted Measures, Calculated Measures, perform Currency / Unit Conversion and create dynamic Input Filters.
Manage KPIs and ReportsHelps the power users configure their own KPIs and drilldown reports to analyze the KPIs.
APF Configuration ModelerUse the modeler to design or enhance your APF-based applications.
Manage Date FunctionsView SAP predefined or create user-defined date functions which can be used in various reports and queries.
Custom CDS ViewProvide the possibility for customers to build their own CDS Views without writing any code. Custom CDS Views can be created by associating released VDM, but complex modeling is not possible with this app.
Custom Fields and LogicYou can use this app to create your own fields and enhancement implementations to extend applications and their UIs, reports, email templates, and form templates.
This app combines three extensibility options: Custom fields, data source extensions, and custom logic.
UI AdaptionThis feature allows key users without technical knowledge of UI5 development to easily make UI changes to Fiori Apps for all users.

When extending standard Fiori apps, I would strongly recommend you check the In-App extensibility tools “Custom Fields and Logic” and “UI Adaption” before jumping into the ABAP Development Tools (ADT) because extension objects created using these tools are “safe” from upgrades and it significantly reduces the efforts to add custom fields to standard Fiori Apps. If these tools cannot satisfy the requirements, then ABAP Development Tools can be leveraged to create and extend ABAP CDS Views/logic. Web IDE in SAP Cloud Platform can be used to develop Fiori Elements or free style Fiori UI5 apps.

Embedded Analytics vs BW/4HANA

Is BW/4HANA needed if S/4 Embedded Analytics will be implemented?

S/4 Embedded Analytics and BW/4HANA address different reporting needs but both solutions complement each other and can be fully integrated. SAP S/4HANA is not an EDW (enterprise data warehouse) and S/4 Embedded Analytics concentrates on real-time operational reporting and transactional decision support.

SAP BW/4HANA on the other hand is an EDW, it allows harmonization of all enterprise data (SAP + non-SAP source systems). It provides deep integration with SAP Analytics and SAP data management (ex: data intelligence, HANA data lake).

It is important to consider which report should be sourced from S/4HANA and which should be sourced from a data warehouse system:

  • Does the report require data form multiple source systems?
  • Does it require complex calculation logic?
  • Does it require complex logic and need to combine data from multiple functional areas?
  • Do you need to track slowly changing dimensions or take data snapshots?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, the report will be a good candidate for data warehouse reporting. Data Volume management and data retention policy also need to be considered in S/4. For example, if data older than two years is archived from S/4HANA, that data will only be available in data warehouse for reporting purposes.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, many “operational reports” currently in SAP BW/Data warehouse can be replaced with S/4 Embedded Analytics. However, the answer is not always “black or white” because it depends on each customer’s specific business requirements. S/4 Embedded Analytics offers new capabilities and business values to the user community which traditional reporting tools do not offer. It enables real-time reporting capabilities in your transactional system to provide timely business-decision support. The solution allows organizations to embed business analytics within the context of a business process and allows users to seamlessly transition from reports to transactional screen and vice versa. These functionalities and the content provided by SAP to ensure a seamless implementation make choosing to add Embedded Analytics to your current project upgrade a simple one.