Exploring the Modeling Tools of SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe the modeling tools of SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics

SAP Fiori Apps for Exploring Data and Data Modeling

SAP Fiori Analytical Apps

SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics provides many, ready-made SAP Fiori apps that enable self-service operational analysis. These apps are based on SAP Fiori. SAP Fiori is a collection of standardized apps based on SAPUI5 technology that follow a specific design principle to ensure that users can operate in an easy, efficient, and intuitive way, on any device.

The SAP Fiori Launchpad presents job-relevant and role-based starting point for each SAP S/4HANA user. Its content is organized using tiles. Business users can rename or hide certain tiles.

But the tiles are more than just buttons to launch an application. The tiles expose key information right on the surface. For example, a tile that launches the application to unblock orders displays the number of blocked orders right on the tile surface. Before you even click the tile, you already know how many orders you have to work through.

Let`s consider a simple scenario where a business user must find out why a supplier fails to achieve 100% on-time delivery. The user starts a drilldown to break down that 90% figure to look for a pattern. The user can navigate using the according analytical app. The user can explore all dimensions of a supplier's performance and, if necessary, drill all the way down to individual historical transactions or use tools to look for hidden patterns of behavior to identify warning signs. All of this analysis is always based on real-time data. The information on the surface of the tile is generated by ABAP CDS views.

The tools for SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics are assigned to any user who's job requires them to analyze data and act. Beyond this, there are also tools available to be able to dig deeper into the virtual data model and for the creation of own KPIs, reports, and dashboards.

We categorize the analytical tools as either display tools, or tools to maintain the virtual data model.

Apps for Analytics

In addition to the virtual data model, SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics provides many analytical SAP Fiori apps that are used for either maintenance of the data model, or exploring anaytical data.

Let's look at an example of an SAP Fiori app used to explore analytical data.

The Overview Page is an analytical SAP Fiori app that provides all the information a business user needs in a single page, based on a specific job role. An Overview Page focuses the user on the most important performance indicators (KPIs) and offers navigation options to explore the underlying data.

The Overview Page is a collection of visual cards. The cards display information in different formats such as charts and lists and focus on different areas of the business performance.

One of the most powerful features of the Overview Page, and in fact most analytical apps, is the ability to act from within the app. For example, with a simple click on a chart that indicates a budget overrun, you could send an e-mail to the department manager that automatically includes the key information. Or, in a column chart that highlights suppliers who missed their delivery targets, you might click on a column and block a supplier to prevent future orders being placed. This is called insight to action and this clearly expresses the goal of embedded analytics, which is to analyze and act immediately on live data.

There are many other types of SAP Fiori apps available with SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics that present analytical data for exploration by the business user.

Apps for Data Modeling

There are two approaches to data modeling in SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics.

The first approach uses graphical modeling tools. The second approach uses code. Let's look at the graphical approach first.

SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics provides two tools for this. The Custom CDS View app and the Analytical Query app. With these tools, you can create a new data modeling object based on predelivered ABAP CDS views in the virtual data model. But to do this, we need to take a step back. First, we must locate the correct source object within the huge virtual data model, which consists of thousands of ABAP CDS views.

SAP-supplied views often do not include all the available fields from the underlying source tables, especially if the customer has added custom fields to the source tables. One of the data modeling tasks is to find out if a suitable ABAP CDS view already exists, or a new one needs to be created. But there are thousands of SAP-provided ABAP CDS views, so finding the view you need is not always easy. To search for ABAP CDS views, use the View Browser. It provides just enough useful information about the ABAP CDS views without exposing the complex source code. This tool provides many ways to search, such as by field name, line of business, database table name, or column names.

Launch the video to learn how we search for an ABAP CDS view.

Once you have found an ABAP CDS view that appears to meet your needs, you can launch it directly in the View Browser app to get an idea of the type of business data it provides.

But let`s consider a scenario where the ABAP CDS view does not fulfill all your requirements. The first option is to extend the ABAP CDS view using the graphical Custom Fields and Logic app. With this app you can add missing fields to the view and specify how the values are generated.

The second option is to use the existing ABAP CDS view as the source for a new ABAP CDS view. Sometimes you create custom views because you need additional fields that are not included in the standard views. Also, custom fields may have been added to the source tables by the customer and they need to be included in the ABAP CDS view that sits on top of them. Or you may want to change the standard field labels to more meaningful ones and apply predefined filters and prompts to narrow the data, or perhaps add calculations. The Custom CDS View app requires only a basic knowledge of the view and stays away from technical details. The Custom CDS View app uses a simple guided process and no coding is needed.

Launch the video to learn how to use the Custom CDS View app.

Another tool similar to the Custom CDS View app is the Custom Analytical Queries app. But what is an analytical query?

Earlier we explained that the virtual data model includes ABAP CDS views that can be regarded as data modeling layers. These layers can be maintained using the apps we described above. We also explained that the top-level view of the virtual data model is the analytical layer that is defined using analytical queries. Analytical queries are a type of ABAP CDS view that represents the top-most, business-specific layer of the data modeling stack. This special type of ABAP CDS view allows you to select the required analytical fields, define filters, add calculations and hierarchies, and choose the attributes and their position in the layout (row or column). These requirements are driven by the business user for specific use cases. We avoid embedding these types of detailed business requirements into the lower data modeling layers because it means it would limit their reuse. Lower layer views should contain only the basic logic that generates reusable data sets.

Analytical queries are consumable outside of the SAP Fiori framework using tools like SAP Analytics Cloud or SAP BusinessObjects.

Launch the video below to learn how to create an analytical query.

As you have learned, SAP provides SAP Fiori-based, easy-to-use tools to explore and to adjust the virtual data model of SAP S/4HANA embedded analytics. However, these tools are aimed at non-developers. They also provide only basic information about the ABAP CDS views.

Sometimes, a developer would like to navigate through the layers of the virtual data model and examine the source code of the views. It is not possible to do this using the SAP Fiori-based tools that we covered earlier. Also, there are no SAP Fiori-based tools that can be used to create a CDS view from scratch. It is possible to create a new custom CDS view using SAP Fiori tools but they are always based on existing ABAP CDS views.

That brings us to the script-based data modeling approach which is valid for SAP S/4HANA on-premise. To create a new ABAP CDS view from the very beginning based on database tables, or to work on ABAP CDS views at the code level, you use the ABAP Development tools for Eclipse. The ABAP Development tools for Eclipse provides full access to the range of features required to view, maintain, and create ABAP CDS views using advanced source code editors. A detailed knowledge of the ABAP CDS language is required.

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