Cloud-Based Analytics: Enabling Data-Driven Decisions for Everyone

Analytics have been long-regarded as critical tools for uncovering growth opportunities, reducing bias in decision-making, anticipating complex market dynamics, and identifying early-stage risks. However, a significant percentage of the workforce continues to be underserved – until now.

Analytics solutions have advanced considerably over the past few years. Various options support strategic decision-making, including data visualizations, executive dashboards, predictive tools, and artificial intelligence (AI). However, most analytics still require the assistance of IT and data professionals. As a result, use of these valuable tools is often limited to executives, key decision makers, and select operational personnel.

According to a Forrester opportunity snapshot sponsored by SAP, approximately 60% of highly desirable analytics tasks require support from IT or data professionals. This situation puts employee engagement and the delivery of targeted outcomes at risk, especially since a growing number of users demand reliable visibility into all processes and factors that influence their daily workflow.

Why is this such a concern today? Organizations have too much at stake not to be truly data-driven and intelligent. Given the challenges caused by rapid market shifts, economic fluctuations, social factors, technology advancements, and climate change, they must transition to analytics solutions designed and available for everyone, not just for executives making strategic decisions.

The Beginning of the “Analytics for Everyone” Era

It’s not unusual for an employee to pull up a list of overdue accounts, an accounts receivable statement, and a sales performance view. But those capabilities are not analytics by today’s standards. Instead, they are aging glimpses into a past that will eventually become irrelevant.

Today, the realm of decision-making needs to extend beyond solely reporting static operational data – evolving to include real-time, intelligent analysis of next steps and future possibilities. In fact, surveyed organizations shared with Forrester that the top benefits of augmented analytics include detecting anomalies, automating data quality, using natural language to answer questions and explain results, and identifying, predicting, and forecasting trends.

With cloud-based, predictive analytics — such as the SAP Analytics Cloud solution, part of SAP Business Technology Platform — many companies are empowering people of all ranks and skill sets to make decisions that lead to consequential outcomes for their business and community.

Bumble Bee Foods LLC, for instance, has improved its brand equity with retail buyers and consumers through greater transparency and facilitated a market premium for fair-trade products. The company analyzes fish buying trends and data to identify historical performance and improve current-day catches in fishing villages together with nongovernmental organizations. This predictive approach is improving the livelihoods of local fishing communities.

User Potential Soars with Embedded Analytics

One of the most compelling capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud is the ability to embed analytics tools directly into existing applications and drive improved business processes based on enterprise data. This design lets employees keep on top of every situation and make the right choices quickly as part of their daily workflow and interactions. And ultimately, the entire workforce moves together as one entity – knowing what the company needs and which underlying risks should be addressed, as well as when, where, and how outcomes can be realized.

This advanced approach to analytics can turn everyday decision-making into a potent force for business success, while reducing the risks that organizations face in these challenging times. Nowhere is this level of transformation more evident than in companies with business models, product portfolios, operations, and supply chains designed to satisfy customer and investor preferences for environmentally and socially responsible operations.

Allbirds Inc. is a prime example of a sustainability-first business model. Holding themselves accountable to “create better things in a better way,” the shoemaker labels every product with its carbon footprint to inform consumers on the environmental impact of the supply chain. More impressive, this level of visibility is still happening as Allbirds experiences rapid growth, allowing it to track its inventory in real time and seek new opportunities to minimize waste.

Allbirds’ success as a sustainable operation points to the power of analytics embedded in SAP S/4HANA. Recognizing that employees and business leaders do not have the time to search for relevant data or manipulate it to get what they need, users can access SAP Analytics Cloud by logging in their core applications. In return, decision makers across the company can acquire relevant insights within traditional workflows and within the same interface, take action, and move on to the next task.

Quick Starting Point for Critical Analytics Scenarios

Another aspect of SAP Analytics Cloud that most organizations enjoy is access to pre-configured, best-practice, industry, and functional business content. Free access to a library of end-to-end scenarios for specific industries and lines of business lets SAP customers quickly develop their analytics systems and tailor applications with packages and templatized content from SAP and our partners.

Pre-configured, best-practice offerings, content, and technical objects available through SAP Analytics Cloud help organizations jump-start their implementation and adoption of individual analytics scenarios. The open-innovation technology behind the cloud-based analytics solution and ready-to-use analytical applications and content from SAP partners can be leveraged immediately and tailored as needed.

Multiple Tools for Intelligent Enterprise Planning in One Solution

SAP Analytics Cloud gives every employee real-time visibility into their business with data-driven insights. From operational reporting and predictive analytics to integrated planning and what-if analysis, the workforce can benefit from this high-performance, in-memory analytics solution under a single, engaging user experience.

The cloud-based analytics solution extends a live connection to on-premise applications, replacing the need for uploading data manually to the cloud. These hybrid analytics, combined with an ecosystem of existing local solutions and new cloud applications, enables employees to discover insights and pass them along to other decision makers in context and with minimal investment and risk.

Meanwhile, comprehensive data management and analytics capabilities help ensure enterprise planning and analysis are underpinned by a consistent model of trusted information. Machine learning capabilities, for example, can be embedded in existing applications to enrich and accelerate decision-making within daily enterprise resource planning (ERP) functions. Additionally, what-if analysis advances decision-making to consider potential benefits and side effects before action is taken and more people are involved in the process.

At SAP, our partners are playing a key role in solving customer challenges by delivering unique line-of-business and industry solutions. They are constantly developing and innovating using SAP Business Technology Platform and the SAP Analytics Cloud solution.

For example, one such partner, Bourne Digital, helped Taronga Conservation Society Australia design and implement a new cloud solution using SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP Analytics Cloud. The application gave Taronga a unified digital experience for employees and streamlined business processes across its conservation research, animal welfare, and environmental education services.  With greater transparency, flexibility, and scalability, the organization can now take full advantage of its data to improve operations and expand its impact.

Designing a Cloud Environment with the Customer in Mind

At SAP, we take great pride in enabling this new era of “analytics for everyone” and helping people of all roles and skill sets drive impactful outcomes for their business, their community, and the entire world. This mindset is what led to the development and continuous evolution of SAP Analytics Cloud.

From the boardroom and office desk to a customer meeting, users can trust their business logic and formerly hidden insights can become well-advised actions that enhance corporate outcomes. More importantly, every person can be a part of the data-to-value chain – evaluating enterprise data, asking the right questions, getting real-time answers, and moving forward to help the business succeed and even improve humankind.

Find out how your organization can track carbon targets and meet sustainability goals with SAP Analytics Cloud.

To learn more about how SAP partners are helping businesses succeed with a unified technology platform, read the previous articles in this series: part one, part two, and part three. If you’re interested in software partnership opportunities with SAP, check out SAP PartnerEdge, Build. If you’re already a partner, check out these exciting initiatives: Hack2Build, SAP Analytics Cloud business content wave, and SAP Co-Innovation Lab.


Jagdish Sahasrabudhe is CTO of the Global Partner Organization at SAP.

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