Since I can remember, I am the analyzing type. The type of person observing situations. So when I got assigned to research the topic of BusinessObjects Cloud (BO Cloud), a new Analytics-tool of SAP, I was a real happy girl. I did a deep dive into the possibilities of this tool and analyzed the data of a potential client. Observed the data, adjusted it where needed and visualized it all according to the IBCS-standards.
IBCS, or International Business Communication Standards, may be a new concept for you. Let me try to grasp the essentials and explain it in short. The standard works on the level of sheet-music or architectural drawings only now applied for businesses: unified consistency. Wouldn’t reports be easier to read and understand when all aspects are uniform? That is where IBCS comes in. By using standard visualizations and applying the SUCCESS-formula: Say your message, Unify the visualization, Condense, Check the scaling, Express your message, Simplify and add Structure to the information you are providing. This formula leads to the fact that every stakeholder can understand your reports in a glance, which safes time. And even a 100 years from now, people will still understand the reports just like they understand sheet-music.
But what does IBCS have to do with BO Cloud? Well BO Cloud will be the first IBCS certified tool of SAP, which means you do not need any additional software to create dashboards according to the standard. Like with Design Studio or Analysis for Office, where certified add-ons are needed to create the wanted outcome.
According to SAP, when already working with SAP tooling and back-end systems like BW or HANA, you can easily connect BO Cloud to the source. When I was working with the tool, I had no access to BW or HANA, so I used one of the other possibilities and loaded multiple Excel sheets into BO Cloud.
But why multiple sheets? Wouldn’t it be way easier to have one document and be able to assign the IBCS-scenarios to them? Agreed, but up till now this is the case: only when using multiple sheets, you are able to see the difference between “actual data”, “previous year data” or “forecasting data”, just like shown in the screenshot below. The beauty of BO Cloud though is: you can combine those different stages of your organization, and combine them without the need to switch sheets in the Excel-file.
It is like working with multiple layers, and being able to gain some insight. On top there is the message, just entered manually. Also the line underneath: entered manually. The readers with an eye for detail, see that the “check” part is not correct so far: the scaling of the middle graph is completely off from the left one. The third one has broader stacks and the length is not related to the actual amount representing the data. It is hard to see the difference in amount when only looking at the length, which is one of the main aspects way off from the standard. Even by hand, it is very difficult to actually scale them equally (=check), because BO Cloud is rather limited at this point. This is one of the aspects why BO Cloud is not IBCS certified already.
But there are also similarities though, for example the scenarios. Just look at the screenshot underneath this small paragraph. Not taking the scaling into account, it shows actually the differences between this and last year. The line of “PY” is grey, as supposed to be, though “FC” is not striped (yet). The percentages can be easily calculated when setting a check in the correct box. And your report shows you how your organization has been doing. Just at one glance, you can see that there might be some trouble ahead in the coming year in the east (Oost) and south (Zuid). Now you can steer towards this, without it being that much of a surprise.
Small aspects that still are not complying to the standard which should be “kEUR”, and is referred to by Thousands in BO Cloud. In case of the screenshots, I added this standard manually. And look at the numbers, some have 2 decimals, some have 1 or none. Also here consistency is required.
Summarized: BO Cloud is a very nice and intuitive tool to use. But when it comes to using it for implementing the IBCS-standards, there is still a way to go. With the aspects we can use and implement now, we can already get accustomed to the IBCS way of working. And it is a good start!
The examples shown are just small, as I don’t want to bother you with my whole analysis. However when you are interested to know some more, or you have any questions: do not hesitate to contact me. I can only conclude this small writing with: I like the tool and it gives us the possibility to save money on hardware. So when you are thinking of moving your data to the cloud, this tool would come in rather handy. The setup would take some time, as will the making of reports, but in the end it is nice to know you need to stress less when SAP is running updates: as the guarantee all reports and models will stay the same. Though, the tool is not yet as mature as the other visualization tools SAP has developed, although new features are implemented as we speak on a two weekly base.
Thanks for reading and see you next time.