Three Reasons Why You’d Need SAP Analytics Cloud AND Microsoft Power BI
Here at Codestone we are champions of our customers and always want to ensure they have the best tools and resources for the job. We support customers with SAP products mainly: SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign among others, but in other ways we are platform agnostic. Here in the Business Intelligence & Analytics team for example we help customers organise and report from their data wherever it happens to be stored – on-premise, in the cloud, in SAP or anywhere else.
We mainly work with Microsoft products for data warehousing and reporting, such as Fabric and Power BI. But again we will always seek to use the best tool for the job, and also take into account the customer’s existing skills sets.
1. You need business- and financial-planning tools
If you have a requirement for planning and consolidation across your business, in a secure and managed environment, with the ability to visualise budgets and forecasts, and maintain robust versioning, then SAP Analytics Cloud will do that for you, and more.
Sophisticated modelling of your business structures, dependencies and relationships ensures that changes in elements’ forecasts roll through to the bottom line. Data can be ingested from multiple locations to represent actuals and allow for quick and easy comparisons.
An intuitive front-end makes the process of updating budgets simple and clear, and the visualisation tools in SAP Analytics Cloud mean that you can quickly present narratives and gain insights. SAP Analytics Cloud’s Business Planning and Consolidation tools are comprehensive and market-leading. It’s an end-to-end solution for finance and other departments.
Microsoft Power BI on the other hand is not a dedicated planning tool. There are add-ins that promise to fulfil parts of a planning solution but none of them will be as comprehensive and rich in functionality as SAC’s planning tools.
2. You need rich analytical tools with data modelling capabilities
SAP Analytics Cloud is a good reporting tool, however it is intended first and foremost to be used with other SAP products. It has data modelling potential, but it is not its strength as the other SAP products might be expected to do that modelling already.
Microsoft Power BI on the other hand is a reporting tool that can connect to almost any data source, report on live or almost-live information, transform and manipulate queries, merge data from multiple sources, automate these processes and repeat them, provide interactive dashboards and paginated pixel-perfect output, and seamlessly integrate with your other Microsoft products and landscape.
Power BI is the market leading business intelligence tool. It is as easy to pick up as Excel has been for years. There is a large community of users sharing best-practice, and Microsoft is investing hugely in adding AI to it to enable users to get the most out of it with little need for technical knowledge.
With Microsoft Fabric now available then Power BI’s ease of use has been extended to data warehousing, data science and data engineering. Fabric enables users to take their Power BI workspaces and add data lakes to them, ingest and analyse big-data, apply machine learning algorithms, create data warehouses and feed your Power BI reports.
Power BI is agnostic about where it finds its data. You can mix information from your SAP Business One environment with data from spreadsheets or from Oracle databases, from online applications or from SharePoint.
Once you have the data then Power Query, embedded in Power BI and Fabric, can transform it in so many deep and meaningful ways, with little to no coding involved if you’re not skilled in that way. Power Query, part of Excel too, can work magic on data: cleansing and re-organising it to suit your needs.
3. You need some predictive analysis of your data
Predictive analysis remains the holy grail of business intelligence – using your data about what has happened already, to forecast what will happen in the future. There are many types of predictive analytics: trend forecasting; basket analysis; churn analysis; regression analysis and more.
It’s in this field that SAP Analytics Cloud and Power BI are both still vying for primacy. Both tools contain some simple AI driven widgets for finding insights in your data you may otherwise miss, at the touch of a button. Both tools offer trend forecasting based on existing data, extending line charts to future periods with varying degrees of confidence. Both tools also have some form of natural language processing for asking questions and receiving data-based answers.
If you want to take this a step further though, you’ll need some appreciation for the concepts and technology of data science.
SAP Analytics Cloud has facilities for predictive analytics, both through pre-canned algorithms and the ability to code your own Python- or R-based routines. In Power BI this ability is provisioned in Fabric ‘Notebooks’ with Spark-based versions of Python to write machine learning code in.
This is very much at the leading edge of business intelligence and both tools are looking to provide the way in that consumers need and can understand without necessarily having PhDs in data science.
Owning and running both platforms at the same time is something not everyone will need to do, but there are benefits. Each tool has its strengths that the other cannot match. Using both in your organisation ensures that every requirement is covered by a market leading product and that your staff have access to the best possible tools for their jobs.
Here at Codestone we’re experts in data and can help you navigate the many paths to achieving what your company needs. Speak to us to find out what we can do for you.
Keith Fisher, Senior BI Consultant, Codestone Group
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