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Although S/4HANA Embedded Analytics and BW/4HANA address different reporting requirements, both solutions complement each other and can be fully integrated. SAPS/4HANA enables analyses to be carried out directly in the transaction system (embedded analytics). This leads to the questions of whether it is necessary at all to operate a separate business warehouse (BW) and what the advantages are.

SAP S/4HANA is not an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) and S/4HANA Embedded Analytics focuses on real-time operational reporting and transactional decision support. SAP BW/4HANA, on the other hand, is an EDW that enables the harmonisation of all company data (SAP + non-SAP source systems). It also offers deep integration with SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Data Management – such as Data Intelligence or HANA Data Lake.

S/4HANA Embedded Analytics:

SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics enables you to analyse live transaction data. It offers fast and operational access to daily decision-making process and has a modern design and user experience thanks to SAP Fiori and all of its security and self-service-enabled access.

The concept of SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics is based on a wide range of technologies and content to enable, for example, embedded (integrated) analytics, real-time operational reports and/or smart business cockpits. For example, the SAP Core Data Services technology (referred to as CDS Views) is used here to create virtual data models.

SAP BW/4HANA:

SAP BW/4HANA is not a new version of BW on HANA, but a completely independent, packaged data warehouse based on SAP HANA. It enables data to be consolidated across the organisation to provide a consistent, aligned view of it.

BW/4HANA has a largely new line of code, which has been reduced from four to three million lines. The result is a faster overall system performance and the use of new technologies. Customers therefore benefit from the faster provision of updates, new functions and better system performance in particular. SAP BW4/HANA offers the option of consolidating data from different data sources (not only ERP) and providing standardised data models.

Why choose S/4HANA Embedded Analytics?

Providing the right information to the right person promptly is one of the most important challenges in data analysis. SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics offers several decisive advantages over traditional reporting:

  • It enables real-time data analysis and provides data quickly to support business decisions.
  • It enables data models in all analytical applications to be reused. The same data model used by Embedded Analytics can also be used by other BI tools such as Business Objects and SAP Analytics Cloud. The same data model can also be used for extracting data into the SAP Business Warehouse (BW).
  • It offers self-service for users and allows them to create their own data models, queries and KPI tiles.
  • Insight to action – S/4HANA Embedded Analytics provides the ability to analyse in real time, from the report level to the transaction level. This feature allows the user to perform the required actions immediately without having to run multiple applications or transactions.
  • It provides a uniform appearance throughout the system on all device types (desktop, tablet, mobile phone).

SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics Building Blocks

SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics architecture:

Backend:

SAP S/4HANA uses CDS Views as a virtual data model for Embedded Analytics. CDS Views are based on the transaction and master data tables of SAP S/4HANA.

To take advantage of SAP HANA for application development, SAP has introduced a new data modelling infrastructure called CDS Views. With CDS views, data models are defined and consumed on the database and not on the application server. CDS Views also offer features that go beyond traditional data modelling tools, including support for conceptual modelling and relationship definitions, built-in features and enhancements.

Technically speaking, CDS Views are an extension of SQL that provides a data definition language (DDL) for defining semantically rich database tables/views (CDS entities) and user-defined types in the database. The data models are supported natively in both ABAP and SAP HANA, expressed in Data Definition Language (DDL) and defined as CDS Views that can be used in ABAP programs via Open SQL statements to access the database.

Core Data Service Views in Embedded Analytics

CDS Views for SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics:

Before HANA, querying large data sets in an ERP system could be time-consuming and affect overall performance. Data warehouses were used to create persistent data models with advanced modelling techniques to improve query performance. SAP HANA eliminates the performance problem in ERP and enables us to create virtual data models (VDM) directly in ERP with significantly higher performance.

VDM is a combination of semantically enriched CDS Views that logically combine data from ERP source tables into meaningful data sets that can be easily used in frontend tools.

Virtual Data Model (VDM)

Frontend:

The common user interface for Embedded Analytics is Fiori. However, it is also possible to create reports with SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP BusinessObjects and non-SAP reporting tools.

With S/4HANA Cloud and S/4HANA On-Premise 2020+, SAP Analytics Cloud can be embedded in the S/4HANA system. It is possible to display the stories created in the SAP Analytics Cloud system in the S/4HANA systems. Furthermore, these stories can be used to create applications and launch them via the SAP Fiori Launchpad.

More options mean more possibilities

Both S/4HANA Embedded Analytics and BW/4HANA offer advantages, as both bring two different elements for analytics. Embedded Analytics is an integrated part of S/4HANA and can therefore be used directly. BW/4HANA, on the other hand, is an independent product and must therefore be implemented and licensed in addition.

When mapping the reporting, it is necessary to analyse which report should be implemented in S/4HANA Embedded Analytics and which in BW/4HANA. The following questions should be clarified at the point:

  • Does the report require data from multiple source systems?
  • Does it require complex calculation logic?
  • Is historical data accessed within the report?
  • Does it require complex logic and must data from several functional areas be combined?
  • Do you need to track slowly changing dimensions or take data snapshots?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, the report is a good candidate for data warehouse reporting with SAP BW4/HANA. Availability and maintenance should be key factors in the use of BW/4HANA, as SAP is now marketing the cloud successor to BW/4HANA. As a pure cloud product, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud seems to fit better into the general orientation of SAP, which will drive the topic of the cloud with greater clarity than ever before in the future. There are currently no major innovations or targeted further developments on the SAP BW/4HANA roadmap since SAP is more likely to provide these in the cloud in the future.

Conclusion

Both solutions, SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics and SAP BW/4HANA, complement each other and can be used together in a fully integrated way. In general, a large number of operational reports in SAP BW/4HANA can currently be replaced by S/4HANA Embedded Analytics. However, the implementation of either system depends on each customer’s specific business requirements. S/4HANA Embedded Analytics provides users with new features and business value that traditional reporting tools do not offer. It enables real-time reporting capabilities in the transaction system to provide business decisions with swift support.

Companies have the opportunity to embed business analytics in the context of a business process and enable users to seamlessly transition from reports to business transactions and vice versa. The wide range of features and advantages of S/4HANA Embedded Analytics mean that this topic should definitely be considered as part of projects that deal with the transformation to S/4HANA.

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Picture Marwah  Al Shwaiki

Author Marwah Al Shwaiki

Marwah Al Shwaiki has been working as an SAP consultant at adesso & adesso Orange in Dortmund since 2018. She is passionate about data analytics and business intelligence. Her main focus is on SAP BW4/HANA, SAP S/4 HANA Embedded Analytics and SAP Analytics Cloud.

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