Some of you may remember the scene from the movie Caddyshack, where the character Al Czervik, played by Rodney Dangerfield, takes over piloting the yacht from Captain Swanson. Calamity and hilarity soon ensue, as the boat wrecks just about everything in its path in the harbor.
Well, movies, technology and software development, have come a long way since 1980! When it comes to end-users, we are more tech savvy and we want data and answers now, sometimes several minutes ago! We don’t want to have to request a data-set or report, wait, analyze it and make additional requests from IT based on our findings. We want to interact with the data real-time, connect to various sources, model it and sometimes merge it together to try and answer questions or uncover trends ourselves. Leading data organization TDWI (Transforming Data with Intelligence) put together a report regarding Business-Driven Business Intelligence and one of the survey results certainly supports this theory, with 62% showing an increase in the business side’s role in Business Intelligence (BI).
So, not only have users become more sophisticated, blending both business and IT centric skills, but the technology has also developed to a point that it is quicker to implement and easier to use. One of the main contributors of this is cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) type products that allow for easy deployment, less maintenance and overall lower cost of ownership. This approach truly puts the power of analysis and the ability to visualize the data in to the user’s hands.
One toolset that is leading the charge in this area is SAP Analytics Cloud, which from my previous blog, we learned is a cloud-based application that provides a robust set of BI tools, along with an easy to use data integration component and even the ability to handle some planning and modeling scenarios.
Analytics Cloud can be implemented as a standalone Business Intelligence (BI) solution for users or it can be paired with on-premise tools, for those organizations that have already invested in various BI toolsets. Regardless of the implementation, some of the benefits of Analytics Cloud are as follows:
- Allows the users to build beautiful visualizations and dashboards with simple point and click techniques. More traditional dash-boarding tools, which are geared more towards IT ownership, requires technical knowledge such as Java, HTML, CSS, etc. With the ability for business users to modify reports and graphs on the fly, this reduces the time to value.
- Provides a user friendly data integration interface that allows connectivity to numerous data sources, some in real-time, as well as strong data modeling capabilities to assist with converting and blending that data together. To read more on SAP Analytics Cloud data integration, please refer to my Data Wranglin’ blog.
- High performance, with the application built upon the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP). For those data sources that are imported in to Analytics Cloud, the data is stored in HANA, which allows for faster data retrieval and the ability to manage larger data sets more efficiently, without the large investment of a full Business Warehouse on HANA.
- Easier to get started with SAP Analytics Cloud with pre-built content that is available. Some of the content is by industry, i.e. Retail, Consumer Goods, etc. and some is specific to various lines of business within your organization, i.e. Human Resources, Finance, etc. It includes models, stories and recommended data sources. Obviously, not every organization is identical, but this provides a great starting point to realizing the value of Analytics Cloud faster than building from scratch.
As the various finance and business users within the Office of the CFO start to take the helm of this ship, the hope is we don’t cause the disaster that Rodney Dangerfield’s character caused, but rather provide actionable, insightful and timely information to the leadership team to assist with making decisions that ultimately add value to the organization using business intelligence. To learn more in a hands-on environment, attend one of our upcoming workshops featuring SAP Analytics Cloud.