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Common issues solved for uncommon reporting results

SAP HANA Live is a cost-effective way for companies to use the power of in-memory computing as a launch pad for real-time operational reporting and analytics. With Symmetry’s help, you can size the system appropriately and ensure HANA modelling is set up using best practices. You can also learn when to use SAP Business Warehouse (BW) in conjunction with SAP HANA and which kinds of user groups will likely build their own reports to gain powerful business insights.

Real Data, Right Now

As you know, SAP HANA Live provides SAP-delivered content in the same way that SAP BW content is delivered; however, the former provides transactional data reporting, while the latter provides historical reporting capabilities. SAP HANA Live views yield real-time operational reporting delivered in the virtual data model (VDM), using the VDM based on transactional and master data tables within the SAP Business Suite.

When users access real-time data using pre-developed calculation views and the SAP BusinessObjects platform, one of the primary outcomes is extending business intelligence content to mobile devices. Another functionality to extend existing views can be obtained using the SAP HANA Live Extension Assistant. Further options include visualising data flow in real-time through the UX-friendly SAP HANA Live Browser.

When those who have formerly used BusinessObjects data sources begin using the Live Extension Assistant with HANA Studio, they will find that connecting supplemental data from other tables is a whole lot easier. Live allows them to engage in flexible, reusable and native SAP HANA modelling to meet operational needs from live transactional data. However, we have found that using HANA Live and BW in tandem grants advanced business analytics capabilities that create true strategic benefit for any organisation.

SAP HANA Live and BW Choices

There are pros and cons for both SAP HANA Live and BW. Some daily users might not appreciate the SAP HANA Live graphical calculation views as a base for reporting because they’re difficult to edit for other uses. BW’s scripted calculation views tend to be more flexible and meet highly complex operational reporting needs more readily.

However, even while using SAP HANA Live as a sidecar, one may convert analytic and attribute views to graphical calculation views fairly easily. SAP HANA Live installation allows lightweight modelling and consumption, so turnaround is fast. Many users run first in HANA Live and go into BW on HANA afterwards to ensure a complete, strategic analytics plan for every business function. For example, a complete finance forecast with only real-time transactional data is incomplete, as business users who are preparing for new IFRS 15 revenue recognition requirements well know.

More Up-To-Date

When SAP HANA Live connects to the ECC system to access operational data in real time, it includes more up-to-date information in its analytics than what exists in SAP BW when it is accessed through BI Content. That is mainly because BW data is susceptible to data transformations and loads already extant in BW and will run slower and/or have redundancies.

However, many users are not able or willing to build new, tailored query views above and beyond those built into the 1,000+ views in SAP HANA Live. Others fear that HANA Live will disappear when most customers migrate to S/4HANA. SAP asserts that even though the name, SAP HANA Live, will disappear, the new SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics will be equally familiar (and even more impactful to use) for current HANA Live users.

In Embedded Analytics, views will be implemented using Core Data Services (CDS) instead of using Live’s graphical formats. CDS provides additional flexibility for building queries. And, as you know, everyone will be on S/4HANA, and by extension working with Embedded Analytics, when SAP stops support for ECC in 2026.

ABAP Abilities

Another positive on the SAP HANA Live roadmap: Any user already running ECC on HANA or Business Suite on HANA can generally use it to consume HANA content into Advanced Business Application Programming (ABAP) routines and SAP HANA Live models and queries with Fiori. Third-party applications can also connect to SAP HANA Live using an ODBC (Open Data Base Connectivity) connection, a protocol that connects Microsoft Access and other external data sources. As mentioned, when SAP HANA Live morphs into SAP S/4HANA Embedded Analytics, it will use CDS instead, a more powerful modelling environment than its current graphical calculation views. Moreover, those upgrading from ERP to S/4HANA will find that their VDM will continue to work or automatically update to work without any action on their part.

SAP HANA Live Integration

There were issues with integration in the first versions of HANA Live because the content packages focused on sales and accounting only. Today, there are many more packages available to ensure usability in the S/4HANA environment. If you have Suite on HANA, HANA Live views will migrate to CDS and be usable now; those who are migrating to S/4HANA will have the S/4HANA Embedded Analytics CDS views to employ. Those who have customised views in any environment should be able to use these as the change occurs, if they keep up-to-date on packages as they are released.

SAP BW still has the upper hand when performing analytics on historical data; however, many business users demand the ability to analyse operational data. They need real-time reports about customers, such as ordering habits, and to follow marketing and sales investments and outcomes among customer groups. Supply chain data and invoicing analytics allow an end-to-end view of product sales that powers just-in-time manufacturing and delivery processes. Many SAP professionals choosing both BW and HANA Live follow a use case approach to determine which analytics scenarios work for business needs, for example, when building reports for high-level management KPIs.

How to Choose BW or Live

With a decision-tree matrix that details the types of data accessed, user profiles and authorisations required, and other common operational solutions that reporting will solve, many SAP teams are able to keep a running tab on the most frequent requests with the best business benefit reported by user groups. Many simply do not have the time to start or to keep up with institutional knowledge and best practices.

That’s why SAP reporting pros employ Symmetry SAP consultants to lead a formal or informal Business Intelligence Competency Centre that provides larger and smaller companies alike with “power users” that drive business owner adoption. Symmetry’s support team can help you gather and protect institutional reporting knowledge in case your SAP HANA Live/BW professionals leave the company or if your analytics programs seem to be constantly “reinventing the wheel”. During migration, Symmetry partners are able to help SAP Administrators create a comprehensive approach and recommend when, and if, to use SAP HANA Live or BW.

Remain Competitive with Just-In-Time BI

Next generation analytics allow SAP teams to remain productive and agile and to become trusted advisers to their business partners. Live transactional data has become the new indicator of competitive value in the marketplace, on any device. Yet historical data retains its value as well, with many business issues solved using third-party application integration and requiring multi-sourced data from past transactional databases.

BW has a vast analytical suite that proves invaluable in a BI strategy and has preconfigured content any analytics pro will use readily for many business requests. As the old saying goes, “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” Using BW and SAP HANA Live together allows you to not only retain past lessons but also get a head start on the future.

As you have most likely experienced, internal support can limit availability of the ongoing support needed to optimally run your environment and may also be limited in knowledge base, especially with analytic technologies that are continuously changing and require ongoing training. Review your IT support needs, including analytics, and review the pros and cons of outsourcing IT with our white paper, Weighing the Pros and Cons: The 5 considerations of outsourcing IT when ERP is involved.