At the global keynote for its SAPPHIRE NOW virtual conference today, SAP is announcing a number of enhancements to its Business Technology Platform (BTP), several which are specifically data/analytics focused. These include a new Data Marketplace as part of Data Warehouse Cloud (DWC); a new cloud-based operational workforce planning platform; and a new enterprise planning foundation that underpins the offering.
ZDNet was briefed by SAP’s Chief Technology Officer and Executive Board Member, Juergen Mueller, who detailed the new analytics-focused offerings and how they tie in with other initiatives recently announced.
Let the marketplace decide
Mueller described the DWC Data Marketplace as a platform that enables both partners and customers to be data providers. One partner, PwC, provides extensive HR data, which can be used to enhance customers’ own data sets and analytics, whether those be standalone, or emanating from SAP enterprise applications. Other parties, meanwhile, will provide data relevant to SAP’s supply chain cloud. And these are only examples.
Best laid plans, in the cloud
Enterprise planning, meanwhile has long been a specialized and important niche in the BI world, typically focused on budgeting, forecasting and other rigors of financial activity. In 2007, SAP acquired independent planning and performance management software vendor Outlooksoft, and eventually integrated the company’s platform into its own stack as SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, (BPC). BPC continues in fairly wide use today, but it’s specifically an on-premises solution.
While BPC continues to be fully-supported, SAP is encouraging new planning implementations to take place on the cloud platform and will also provide guidance on helping existing BPC customers migrate there. Mueller explained to me that the new cloud platform falls under the same team and leadership as does BPC, and that customers should therefore find certain consistencies in their underpinnings.
The new Operational Workforce Planning and Analytics in SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is the company’s next foray into bringing planning to the cloud, while avoiding a mere lift and shift of BPC. The company describes it as “designed to support operational HR planning and analytics and insights for cost-center owners and HR business partners to manage their staffing plans.” It’s expected to be available in Q3 of this year.
Operational Workforce Planning joins, and integrates with, the already-introduced Integrated Business Planning (IBP) for Supply Chain. Other planning modules, covering sales, territory, and marketing planning, will likely be forthcoming. SAP’s enterprise planning foundation, built atop SAC’s solution powering BTP, undergirds all such planning offerings.
SAP recently introduced new APIs for its SAC analytics designer, allowing assets — including Operational Workforce Planning assets — to be generated programmatically, rather than requiring manual design as the exclusive authoring method. Conversely, the company is enabling creation of SAP BTC solutions with a no code/low-code approach, including workflow management/services and Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Other analytics-related announcements from SAP include enhanced watchlist, optimized story viewer, and simplified navigation capabilities in SAC; embedded analytics, enabled by SAC and SAP Ariba Network; support for file object store and SQL on files capabilities in the data lake in SAP HANA Cloud; and data integration and federation capabilities for the SAP HANA Cloud database, based on the same SAP Data Intelligence framework.
SAP’s continued build-out of its analytics capabilities as enabled by, and providing enablement of, its enterprise business software shows just how inseparable data and analytics are from business success today. The integrations further show that this utilitarian approach to analytics serves not only strategic purposes but operational excellence as well.