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Norbert Kytka, Headquarters PlattlingContact
Although nowadays tools such as SAP Analytics Cloud have established themselves on the market as high quality, user-friendly software for data analysis and reporting, the familiar Excel nonetheless continues to have a place in numerous organizations. Indeed, a Nielsen study found that some 89% of professional computer users work with Excel. These users typically employ the software not just for calculation, but also for analyses.
Given Excel’s continued importance in departments such as Finance, Controlling and BI, it’s no surprise to find tools that integrate SAP solutions into the popular Microsoft software. SAP Analytics Cloud is one of the first major planning tools for businesses to offer seamless integration with the web version of Excel and the Office 365 suite. So, it seems worth taking a closer look at the tool “SAP Analytics Cloud for Microsoft Office”.
The benefits of combining Microsoft Excel with SAP Analytics Cloud are obvious. Millions of people already use Excel for planning, analyzing data and running simulations. Now, they can keep working with their familiar UI, but enjoy all the benefits of SAP Analytics Cloud.
“SAP Analytics Cloud for Microsoft Office” provides tools for users to access various SAC models and use their analysis functions directly in Excel. For example, the user can add or remove dimensions or KPIs in a drilldown, run filters, and make use of hierarchies.
Users can adjust values for planning models directly in their Excel worksheet and see the changes propagated instantly into the SAP Analytics Cloud model. Back in the Excel worksheet, they can combine their values with data that isn’t yet covered by a model in the SAP Analytics Cloud, or that they explicitly do not want to upload to the Cloud.
It is not currently possible to save analytics generated in Excel to the SAP Analytics Cloud repository. However, the SAC roadmap already includes a firm plan for adding this functionality. Until the Save functionality becomes available in SAP Analytics Cloud, users have to duplicate their life-cycle management, permissions system, and single point of access model.
If an organization already has its own BI platform, we do not believe that it currently makes sense to switch from “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office” to “SAP Analytics Cloud for Microsoft Office”.
It takes just a few steps to activate SAP Analytics Cloud models as a data source for “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office”. Since “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office” still has much more functionality, we recommend hybrid operation: the BI platform combined with SAC, using “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office”.
What if a company doesn’t have a BI platform and therefore no license for “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office”? In this case, there is another interesting alternative to consider: “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office, edition for SAP Analytics Cloud”.
The name sounds very similar to the BI version “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office”, and indeed it is. “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office, edition for SAP Analytics Cloud” has just one limitation: it can only connect to SAP Analytics Cloud models. The analysis options and usability are identical to “SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office”. At the moment, we believe this edition has the greatest added value for operative production, in comparison to the Excel add-in “SAP Analytics Cloud for Microsoft Office”.
However, we can be sure that SAP’s “Cloud-first” strategy will rapidly yield new developments in the Excel add-in “SAP Analytics Cloud for Microsoft Office”. The add-in may not yet have fully mature functionality, but – as of today – one important step has already been taken: end users can now implement planning and analytics using SAP Analytics Cloud models in the Office 365 Excel web app, without needing a client installation.
When should an individual organization take steps along the path of Cloud add-ins, and just what route will they take? This is always a unique decision that must be made in the context of the company’s overall BI strategy. We will be happy to contribute our longstanding experience and expertise to help you determine which tool fits best with your BI strategy, what licensing costs are implicated, and what features and UIs are most useful for your end users.