What is a Data Model?
What exactly is a data model? And how do they work in SAP Analytics Cloud? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and teach you how to get started with basic data modeling in SAP Analytics Cloud.
Put simply, a model is a representation of large amounts of business data. In SAP Analytics Cloud, data models define and enhance your data in an intuitive way, allowing anyone in your enterprise to access the data and find answers to important business questions. Models help you prepare for analysis and become the basis of your data visualizations. Essentially, think of modeling as the middleman between your raw data and creating beautifully crafted stories.
In SAP Analytics Cloud, you can model your data through data wrangling, the process of cleaning, structuring, and enriching your raw data. The data wrangling process includes defining dimensions and measures, filtering data, resolving data quality issues, setting hierarchical relationships, establishing currency conversions, creating custom formulas, and geo enriching your data.
How to Model your Data in a Story
Now that you have a basic understanding of data modeling, let’s walk through how you can create a model in SAP Analytics Cloud.
There are two ways you can create a data model in the Analytics Cloud: through a story and through the Modeler. This article will focus on how to create your data model by directly creating a new story, which is the quickest method to get an overview of your data and prepare it for analysis. This method is geared towards first-time users and users who are new to data modeling.
Step 1: Import your Data from a File or Data Source
To begin the data modeling process, you must import your data into SAP Analytics Cloud. Analytics Cloud allows you to import your data from a wide range of cloud-based and local data sources such as Excel spreadsheets, CSV, text, Google Drive files, and much more.
To create a story, click the Main Menu tab and select Create > Story. Then select the Access & Explore Data icon to import your data from a file, existing model, or data source.
When you import a data file into a new story, a private or embedded model is created in the background, which contains your data and dimension information. Unlike models created through the Models page, these private models are saved with the stories and don’t appear in the public models that are listed on the Models page.
Step 2: Define your Measures and Dimensions
Once your raw data has been imported, you will see the data displayed in a table comprised of columns and rows. Here, you will define your imported data columns as Dimensions and Measures. Measures represent quantities that provide meaning to your data. For example, sales revenue, salary, or number of employees. Dimensions represent categories that provide perspective on your data. For example, product category, date, or location.
Using machine learning technology, SAP Analytics Cloud automatically identifies whether or not a column is a measure or dimension. However, it is always good practice to look over the data to ensure the measures and dimensions are correctly identified.
To change your measures and dimensions, select the column in the table. On the right side of the screen, you will see the Details Panel. As demonstrated below, by selecting Type in the Details Panel, you can change a column to a measure or dimension.
Step 3: Prepare, Clean, and Explore your Data
Now that you have imported your data and defined your measures and dimensions, let’s take a look at the SAP Analytics Cloud toolbar.
In the toolbar, you will find a variety of tools that will help you model your data. One feature that you’ll want to make use of is the “Mode” section. This section contains three different views that allow you to prepare and explore your data:
- Data Manipulation view allows you to prepare and wrangle your data.
- Card View displays all the columns as separate cards providing an overview of your columns. This view enables you to easily view your data types and spot data quality issues.
- Data Exploration empowers you to explore your measures and dimension through visualizations. By switching to this mode, SAP Analytics Cloud will automatically create and confirm your data model.
Congratulations, you have completed your first model! Now you know how easy it is to create a model by adding data directly to your story. If you would like to learn how to use the Modeler for advanced modeling capabilities, click here.
The next step is to convert your data model into analytic visualizations through “Stories.” Check out our Introduction to Stories guided playlist to learn how you can bring your models to life.