SAP Analytics Cloud Review

Offers business intelligence and inbuilt AI capabilities, useful for both technical types and general users

What is our primary use case?

We use this solution as part of an embedded analytics use case for an ERP application. SAP are starting to embed Analytics Cloud as a solution within their ERP application, which gives you the options for closed-loop analytics, as you go from insights to action within a single ERP application. It can also be used to bring together multiple data sources, different sources of data from various applications and use the application to blend and trade analytics solutions across different parts of the organization. The product suits small to large enterprise, it supports all user types. We are partners with SAP and I'm an analytics practice lead.  

What is most valuable?

A point of differentiation in the market for Analytics Cloud compared to other analytics products, is it offers not only business intelligence within the application, but also it has inbuilt AI and machine learning capabilities that can be used not only by data scientist types in the organization, but for general users who can get the benefit of inbuilt predictive features in the tool. The other really compelling part of it is that it's also a planning application. You can do full life cycle from plan through execution in a single platform. That's quite unique for SAP. A lot of the other software vendors do analytics products and they do planning products. This is quite a unique combination that has both BI predictive and planning in a single application. And that's really where its strengths is.

What needs improvement?

I think what could be improved is a lot of those intelligent features that I mentioned, the AI and predictive functions within the tool work really well with data that you import into the platform, but it doesn't work as well with SAP live connections. If they could make those predictive features available to any source, whether it's SAP or non SAP, it would be a really, really compelling product. 

I'd like to see formatted reporting as an additional feature, such as pixel perfect style formatted reporting. I'd also like to see the product on parity when you compare acquired data and live data models, to know that the features are identical. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using this solution for two years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I believe the stability needs more work. The product was first released about five years ago and it's still maturing, which means a lot of new functionality is released with each update. Sometimes that can be a little bit disruptive as features change. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is pretty good, you've got options of either having it publicly hosted, or you can also have a private hosting option in a restricted area in the cloud data center. You can also add capacity to it quite easily. It's elasticity as an application for scale-out is pretty good. And underneath the covers, it runs SAP HANA, which is an in-memory database. So that makes a pretty performance. I'm happy with it. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support could be improved. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I would say that Analytics Cloud is definitely improving although it's not yet fully comparable. There are some features in BusinessObjects that are not yet in Analytics Cloud, but I would say, from my perspective, that the overall the benefits and advantages of using SAC outweigh BusinessObjects. 

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is somewhere in the middle of straightforward and complex, it just depends on the source of information. It's not overly simple and it's not overly complex. We have the solution up and running with customers in three weeks for a trial, and that's sending up the application, connecting it to their source systems and demonstrating one really good example of a dashboard or report. We carry out the deployment internally. There's very little maintenance required because it's software as a service, a SaaS offering, a lot of that housekeeping and maintenance and upgrade of the solution is managed by SAP, by the software vendors. Again, that's one of its strong selling points, it requires very little administration overhead.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I believe that SAC is cheaper than BusinessObjects for a basic user license. It's difficult to compare because one is an on-premise pricing model and the other is subscription based. You're not really comparing apples with apples. For some of the more advanced functionalities, though, it can be more expensive. Analytics Cloud is subscription-based. There are different tiers of licensing that give you different access to different functionalities, but assuming you have all of that, there is no additional hosting or set up costs, its fully included in the price per user. 

What other advice do I have?

It's really important to think about data governance in the solution because it's very much a self-service application. It can be quite open for users to create their own versions of data, so it's really important that you think about customers, think about a data governance model to make sure that there's clear ownership of data, and there's a clear single source of truth for enterprise data in the model. It's easy to create a situation where it's open, but you still very much need to consider having a data governance strategy that underpins your Analytics Cloud implementation.

I would rate this solution an eight out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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