IT Infrastructure and Analytics

Roadmap Dilemma in the Era of S/4HANA Analytics

Share this post:

Business analytics solutions struggle with defining the difference between operational analytics and strategic analytics. Based on my experience working on multiple BI projects for clients over the years, I see that the majority of reporting requirements are centered around operational reporting. Business process owner are now realizing the need for strategic analytics.

Here’s a quick example to show the difference between the two analytics. A  supply chain planner uses 36-month forecast data and two years of sales data to carry out demand planning activities. The reports generated are operational and can run more than 50,000 lines. But a report depicting top 5 products that are short in supply resulting in huge supply chain constraints is a strategic one.

With analytics gaining maturity over the years, clients have streamlined the distinction  between strategic and operational analytics requirements. But clients are still struggling with creating an analytics road map, even with the introduction of S/4HANA and embedded analytics. Where should they implement the analytics, transaction or data warehousing system?

IBM Solutions for SAP analytics

Transformation to Unified Architecture

In the grand scheme of things, with high investment at stake, it is extremely important for us to not only address the roadmap dilemma as soon as possible, but also consider the ROI.  Clients know where to implement transaction analytics because of the advanced capabilities of S/4HANA which manages in-process and operational analytics. With S/4HANA embedded analytics, it is possible to have instant insights and decision making as transactions happen. For example, when creating a PO, the client can instantly view supplier delivery performance. It will also help them choose the right vendor immediately.

At the same time, strategic and analytics reporting will continue to run on Hybrid HANA solution.

The picture below depicts the transformation from today’s data warehousing architecture to the “Unified architecture” of using S/4 HANA embedded analytics and Hybrid HANA:


Unified Architecture Advantages

Customers will have the following benefits from using unified architecture:

  • Caters to complex reporting scenarios which entails integrating data from multiple sources (SAP and non-SAP)
  • Sets platform ready for big data integration scenarios
  • Enables the business to build reports which utilize complex-customized organizational hierarchies, historical trending/time series data and snapshot scenarios. It also enables the end users with the base to build self-service analytics.
  • In-process analytics enables instant insight for decision making as the transaction happens e.g. instant view of supplier delivery performance during purchase order creation will help picking up the right vendor.
  • In-process analytics combined with real time data provides the information at the users’ fingertips. Users can make quicker decisions and not wait for overnight load to complete to get analytical reports.

Path to Unified Architecture

Even though we have a solution that distinguishes between operational analytics and strategic analytics, we haven’t answered the million-dollar question. What will happen to a clients’ existing investment of SAP BW?  And new customers will want to know how to start their analytics journey.

Answer to these questions is depicted in the picture below where I recommend to keep the SAP BW investment AS-IS and identify the opportunity to migrate operational analytics to S/4HANA embedded analytics. Similarly, for the customers implementing S/4HANA, should start the analytics journey with embedded analytics and identify the opportunity to implement Hybrid HANA for the strategic analytics.

IBM Solutions for SAP

Key takeaways:

  1. For new customer implementing S/4HANA without existing SAP BW Data warehouse:  Start with S/4HANA in built operational analytics and identify rationale to move towards Hybrid HANA for strategic analytics.
  2. For new customer implementing S/4HANA with existing SAP BW Data warehouse: Keep BW investment and move towards the unified architecture to satisfy real time operational requirements.
  3. Customers migrating from other data warehouses and planning to implement S/4 HANA:  Consider implementing unified architecture to satisfy need for operational analytics and strategic analytics

To learn more  about our SAP partnership, visit.

Collaborators: Satish Hiranandani, Sohil Shah, Prakash Nagarajan, Ramesh Pal , Pardha Mohandas, Sainath Kumar, Karl Johnson, Dan Spaulding

NA, SAP Business Analytics COE - Enterprise Analytics Competency Leader

More IT Infrastructure and Analytics stories

Chart the course of your SAP S/4HANA migration with an impact assessment

According to the 2018 IBM Global C-suite Study, the rules around disruption have changed. In years past, startups and industry newcomers were typically considered the driving force behind innovation. Now, by taking advantage of their ecosystem advantages and reinventing their digital infrastructures, industry incumbents are increasingly moving into the leading role. In fact, 72 percent […]

Continue reading

Three things I learned from clients in 2017 about digital transformation

I started 2018 thinking about resolutions and goals, and reflecting on the prior year; the things I want to accomplish in the New Year, both personally and professionally, and what I learned in 2017. It was only six months ago that I stepped into my role leading the IBM Global Next Gen Enterprise Cloud Applications […]

Continue reading

Debunking the myth of modernization

As adoption of cloud, analytics and AI accelerate, new business strategies are emerging, new processes are being implemented, and new methods of engagement are being introduced. Yes, it’s a time of monumental transformation. Leaders are reshaping their organizations to appeal to rapidly evolving customer needs and expectations and to create competitive advantage. But is this […]

Continue reading