This article is about the three fundamental components that are the foundation of everything that you can create with SAP Analytics Cloud: data, models, and stories. Once you understand the Analytics Cloud fundamentals, you’ll be able to expand your knowledge and start gaining deeper insight into your business.
When you think of analytics, data visualizations (or whatever you want to call them) probably come to mind first. These visualizations represent your business data in various chart types which make it easy to understand your business at a glance.
Visual analytics help you to quickly answer your business questions. But, in order analyze your business data, you’ll have to collect some first. Typically, businesses collect massive amounts of data from a variety of sources such as point of sale, HR, marketing, and procurement, just to name a few.
The data that is collected by your business then has to be stored somewhere. You may choose to store simple information in a spreadsheet or, when it comes to big data, in a more complex database.
The first step in gaining insights from Analytics Cloud is to connect the data you’ve collected about your business to the software. You can accomplish this either by importing data, such as from a .csv or Excel file, or by making a data-connection to an on-premise or cloud-based datasource.
Once your data is connected, you’ll use it to create a model. A model is a clean and defined version of your raw data, and it will be the basis of your analysis.
Data appears in SAP Analytics cloud in rows and columns, just like in a spreadsheet. At the very least, your model will define each column of data as either a dimension or a measure. However, a model can be much more complex depending on its purpose and how it was made.
The process of creating a model is called modeling, it’s a term that data scientists and IT professionals are familiar with. But, you don’t have to be highly technical to create a model. In fact, anyone can create a basic model by adding data directly into a story. Using stories is the easiest and fastest way to create a model in Analytics Cloud, we’ll cover how it works in the stories section.
In Analytics Cloud, more complex models are created using the Modeler. In many organizations, the types of people who will use the Modeler are the ones who work in IT or other data-related positions. This is because it’s a more advanced tool, and will take some time to learn for those unfamiliar with data modeling.
The snapshot below is of a model created using the Modeler, it’s enhanced with calculations, hierarchies, and currency conversions.
Stories are where you explore and visualize your data for reporting, planning, and analysis. There are two areas within stories that can be used for these purposes: data view and pages.
If you’ve imported data directly to your story, you’ll start in data view. Here, you’ll check your data, clean any errors, and add any further definition to your model.
The model below was created by adding data to a story. The symbols in the header row label each column as either a dimension (compass) or a measure (measuring tape).
You can switch views to explore your data within data view. Select dimensions and measures from your model to automatically generate visualizations that you can copy to pages in your story.
Pages are where the magic really happens. Each story can have multiple pages that are set up as a canvas or grid. You can even choose to make your canvas pages responsive so that they look good on any device.
Every object that you add to a page is contained within a tile. You’ll fill your pages with tiles that contain charts and graphs, tables, and other objects.
Select a tile on your page to access the design panel. Here, you can use tools to adjust the content and styling of your tiles.
For tips on designing better stories read 5 Easy Ways to Tell Better Stories with Data.
Putting it all together
Let’s do a quick recap. Your business collects a lot of data from a variety of sources. This data is valuable because it can be used to gain deeper insight and inform your business decisions with SAP Analytics Cloud.
You’ll start by connecting to your data and creating a model. Your models can be as simple or complex as you want, and can be created in a few different ways. You can create a model by adding data directly to a story. Or, if your organization needs more advanced connections and models, advanced users can use the Modeler.
Next, you’ll fill the pages of your stories with tiles containing objects that give insights into your business. Going forward you’ll use your stories for reporting, planning, and analysis; helping your business make better decisions backed by data.
Get started today
Now that you understand the SAP Analytics Cloud fundamentals, it’s time to try it out for yourself. Sign up today for a free 30-day trial.