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Getting started with SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Analytics

Emily Kucukalic Friday, November 4, 2016 Blog

By Andrew Rankin

Recently we signed up to a partner subscription for SAP’s new analytic and planning product called BusinessObjects Cloud so that we could test out the capability, maturity and usability of this product. I would like to share an initial and basic review of the SAP BusinessObjects Cloud product. At this stage I have only considered the product’s analytics component (not planning) and tested with data loaded from a spreadsheet – not considered integration with on-premise data sources, which will be provided in the next blog.

Getting Access:  The first thing to do was complete the (rather timely) openSAP course for this product, which was a great primer for understanding the basics and implementation considerations. As a BW consultant, I was very interested in the data modelling and system integration and by the end of the course was keen to get my hands on the tool.

This is one of the new breed of cloud-only SAP products so there is no option to install it locally – you have to get access through SAP as it only runs on the SAP HANA-Cloud Platform (HCP).

I immediately tried out a freely-available customer demo version of the product but it was very restricted and not useful for a thorough analysis. So our management agreed to buy a partner subscription which provides access to (almost) all functionality. With 5 licenses to utilise, we had our own tenant to play in!

First Experience: To begin with, I just wanted to upload some test data that was ready to go. I was able to do this quickly from the home screen, which straight up advertised connecting to my data.


It didn’t take too long to figure out how to set up the dimensions and measures and then import of the data which generated a model. So this is actually storing the model data including the master data and transactional data in the cloud system. We have up to 1Gb storage space per user.


Next I created a story (report). I could create pages in each story filled with various tables & charts based on the data I had loaded into my model. I found the usual standard, basic reporting tool capabilities quite easy to find and use. The user interface is ok – but when I compare it to Lumira or other visualisation tools I am left feeling a little frustrated as I try to position charts and format them to my liking.


Models:  Each model is kind of like a BW cube. It contains dimensions which hold all your master data values and fact data (transactions). In this case for me, all of this data is being uploaded  & stored in the cloud tenant so further reporting from that is fast. If you just upload a file and create a model at the same time then all’s good as a once-off. But if you want to create a model from scratch without using any data upload – or add dimension values into an existing model or make modifications to a model it can get a bit difficult. There are some concepts you have to get your head around like the fact that the account dimension is mandatory and must nominate all measures and when you load data each row can only nominate 1 measure column (account-based model). Its also interesting that dimensions are created and exist independently from the model, so potentially they can be reused in other models. This reminds me of how we would set up a data warehouse…

Digital Boardroom:  The digital boardroom is an application on top of the base product. You set up a meeting agenda first and then use stories to put together a presentation in an agenda format that uses these stories. Each agenda item consists of 3 screens – overview, main & context – ideally you need 3 large touch screens in your meeting room. Each of these screens displays a page from a story that you already prepared, like the screen shot above. When you build the story you can switch on a widget to either jump to an explorer view or to navigate to a different page in your agenda. While you can see the potential of this tool, clearly the usefulness in practice will depend on the quality of the agenda preparation and relevance of that to the meeting!



Summary:  It’s interesting to try to understand where SAP are positioning this product and how it fits in with the many other SAP BI tools. It seems that there are 3 main goals that SAP are trying to score with this product to differentiate it:

  1. It is a self-service tool aimed at business users for both analytics and planning – an all-in-one solution. But – it is not intended as a replacement for an enterprise-wide data warehouse, reporting suite or planning solution.
  2. It is intended as a base platform for other new and related analytical products – eg. Digital Boardroom. There are more to come.
  3. It is a cloud-based solution ONLY. It runs on the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP) on a subscription basis. There is no front end component, it runs on your browser. Therefore ZERO on-premise requirements other than a browser.

In the next blog I will share some details on connecting the product to our on premise BW system!

One Response to "Getting started with SAP BusinessObjects Cloud Analytics"

  1. Tim Reid says:

    Great blog entry Andrew, looking forward to the next one.

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