Bringing real-time analytics on your SAP BPC using SAP Analytics Cloud live connections.
More and more often, we are witnessing how business is adopting real-time analytics as a means to quickly obtain data insights that allows to make changes and act on critical decisions while pursuing the “single source of truth” principle.
When talking about real-time analytics, we talk about virtualization and live data connections. Following are some of the benefits of live connections:
Transaction data is not loaded and will not leave the company network.
Data is not replicated
SAC can connect to a cloud or on-premise application.
Authorizations are used from the backend.
How does SAP Analytics Cloud embrace live data connections:
Much has been discussed about SAP Analytics Cloud as a best of breed application in modern analytics, bringing powerful visualization and latest technology functionalities as predictive analytics, while providing strong integration capabilities.
In terms of integration using live data connections, SAP Analytics cloud provides live data connections with SAP HANA, SAP BW and S/4HANA on-premise systems. Regarding SAP BPC on the different SAP BW versions, currently, SAP Analytics Cloud provides live data connection to embedded models only.
Unfortunately, this functionality is not available for BPC standard models, and it is unclear when and if SAP will address this limitation.
However, it is possible to use writeback connections on BPC (allowing hybrid planning scenarios as described in this post). Although it is limited to use with periodic models and data preparation for analysis and data blending from different sources is not supported.
This leaves SAP BPC standard applications, usually containing multiple models (p.e. planning, forecasting, etc.), especially group financial closing and statutory reporting models – traditionally set on a YTD model -, without real-time / live connection capabilities.
How to create a live data connection from a BPC Model?
SAP BPC was integrated into BW architecture from version 7.5. Therefore, most BPC applications are using BW objects underneath, including composite providers on top of the cubes. BW queries (former BEx queries) are built on top of composite providers and can provide the access point for live connections that BPC is currently missing.
A distinctive feature for a composite provider is its ability to combine multiple sources, including HANA views, into one virtual data model layer. It allows for preparing the data for analytics and blend different sources of our BPC models – or not BPC sources – to a single analytics model. Furthermore, with the use of BW queries on top of the composite providers, it allows for applying business logic to the data.
With a simple virtual modeling layer on BW, using composite provider and queries, we can obtain the desired real-time analytics on top of the BPC models. (Beware that measures and member formulas need to be redesigned and replicated on BW modeling).
Unfortunately, many visualization features on SAP Analytics Cloud are only available when using a BW or SAC native time characteristic. Although BPC standard models were migrated to BW, the time dimension is still not a native BW time characteristic, and it would not be possible to generate trend diagrams, waterfall diagrams, and more functions on the standard bar char, nor use the predictive forecasting functionalities. Fortunately, we have a solution to this limitation.
So, how to bring full analytics capabilities to a live connection from BPC Models?
By using associations on the composite provider, we can virtually map a BPC Time dimension to a native time characteristic through a property. This way, the output will have a dimension 0CALCMONTH instead of the text-based BPC Time dimension. Virtual modeling with composite provider and BW provides multiple options to prepare your model for analytics. Now is time to plug your live model in SAC and play!