What’s new in the SAP data & analytics world

The main topic of this first What’s new in the SAP data & analytics world blog is without a doubt SAP’s Data Unleashed event which took place on March 6th.

Let’s have an overview of what was announced that day.

We can categorize the announcements into three categories: SAP Datasphere, SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP HANA Cloud. This immediately gives us an idea of what SAP is focusing on.

  • SAP Datasphere
    • Datasphere Knowledge Graph

The SAP Datasphere knowledge graph facilitates organizations in representing their real-world data usage more effectively, aiding in generative AI and reasoning. It automatically constructs an ontology reflecting data relationships, including business context from SAP sources like SAP S/4HANA.

SAP Datasphere Knowledge Graph (image by SAP)

This ontology can be customized and expanded to suit organizational needs. The resultant knowledge graph enables data to be processed as a semantic web, facilitating insights from complex connections. These graphs are adept at addressing intricate questions and can augment large language models, mitigating AI-generated errors. Unlike manual creation, SAP Datasphere knowledge graph minimizes costs by utilizing existing content and can be integrated with SAP’s generative AI tool, Joule, for instant and well-documented answers to varied queries.

  • Simplified Consumption of Data Products in SAP Datasphere

SAP is enhancing data sharing through user-friendly data products, allowing seamless access and consumption across various applications. Users can easily explore, understand, and activate data, while providers can effortlessly publish assets for consumption.7

SAP Datasphere Catalog (image by SAP)

SAP Datasphere streamlines access to both SAP and non-SAP data products, simplifying installation and connection procedures. Metadata descriptions via the Open Resource Directory protocol facilitate easier data provisioning. The experience within SAP Datasphere is unified, harmonizing catalog and data product installation processes.

  • SAP Datasphere Semantic Onboarding Enhancements

SAP is enhancing its semantic onboarding capabilities by enabling seamless import of semantically rich objects from SAP S/4HANA and SAP BW/4HANA into SAP Datasphere. This capability is now extended to support SAP HANA Cloud and SAP data products, providing customers with a unified onboarding experience. With this enhancement, customers can import calculation views from SAP HANA Cloud into SAP Datasphere, preserving semantic information such as measures, attributes, hierarchies, and more. This ensures synchronization between SAP HANA Cloud and SAP Datasphere objects, allowing customers to leverage their investments in SAP HANA modeling. Additionally, semantic onboarding of SAP data products inherits business context from SAP applications, improving the analytic workflow and simplifying data-driven insights within SAP Datasphere.

  • Collibra AI Governance Integration with SAP Solutions

The partnership between SAP and Collibra aims to enhance end-to-end data governance, ensuring trusted data for users across the business data fabric. With the rise of AI-driven tasks and decisions, extending governance to AI has become crucial. This expanded partnership introduces Collibra AI Governance to address the data and AI governance needs of joint customers. Tailored integrations between Collibra AI Governance and SAP solutions will enable tracking and managing AI development efforts, providing insights into data lineage and metadata used in AI modeling. This collaboration enhances transparency, accountability, and regulatory compliance, preventing biased decision-making and ensuring user trust. Joint efforts aim to meet data and AI governance needs across organizations, offering a single view of AI models and their data sources. Collibra AI Governance is now available for interested customers, enhancing governance and trust in AI-driven processes.

  • SAP Datasphere Confluent Integration

The SAP data strategy emphasizes interoperability with leading data and AI vendors through an open ecosystem. A newly enhanced integration with Confluent facilitates real-time data streaming to and from SAP Datasphere. This integration extends outbound capabilities by leveraging Confluent’s schema registry and enables seamless consumption of Confluent data within SAP Datasphere. Specifically tailored to Confluent, the integration offers a superior user experience without requiring custom application development. It utilizes pre-established replication flows in SAP Datasphere for efficient delta and real-time processing. The first integration for data ingestion into Kafka and Confluent is available, with additional capabilities for Confluent-specific outbound and inbound integration scheduled for release in subsequent quarters.

  • SAP Analytics Cloud for Planning Deep Integration to SAP Datasphere

SAP Datasphere and SAP Analytics Cloud for planning are being tightly integrated to broaden the scope of the business data fabric to include planning use cases. Planning models from SAP Analytics Cloud can now be deployed directly into SAP Datasphere, enabling the consolidation of plan and actuals data for real-time decision-making. This integration reduces the need for storing multiple copies of data, minimizing complexity and risk.

Planning with SAP Analytics Cloud & SAP Datasphere (image by SAP)

By leveraging SAP Datasphere’s native capabilities for transformation and integration, SAP Analytics Cloud extends its planning functionality, offering live access to actual and plan data for comprehensive planning and analysis scenarios, including the utilization of master data. Ultimately, SAP Datasphere will serve as the platform for integrating planning processes and tools.

  • SAP Analytics Cloud
    • SAP Analytics Cloud Generative AI Co-Pilot

SAP customers are poised to harness the capabilities of generative AI through Joule in SAP Analytics Cloud, enabling the creation and simulation of business plans.

 

Joule in SAP Analytics Cloud (image by SAP)

This integration empowers planning and analytics professionals with enhanced capabilities across various business processes, including data discovery, dashboard creation, and planning model maintenance, resulting in an unparalleled user experience. Leveraging natural language processing, users can effortlessly run analytical queries, simulate driver impacts, allocate resources, and auto-generate dashboards and calculations. SAP’s investment in AI and its understanding of business data context offer limitless potential in planning and analytics. A preview of Joule co-pilot functionality in SAP Analytics Cloud is slated for availability in Q2 2024, inviting interested parties to sign up for the preview.

  • SAP Analytics Cloud Compass

SAP Analytics Cloud compass offers Monte Carlo simulation capabilities in a user-friendly interface, allowing non-technical users to conduct real-time multi-variate analysis without extensive IT setup or statistical expertise.

Monte Carlo simulation in SAP Analytics Cloud with Compass (image by SAP)

This enables businesses to simulate uncertainties such as commodity prices or labor costs, assessing their impact on operational expenses or revenue and preparing countermeasures accordingly. Users can perform simulations directly within SAP Analytics Cloud, significantly reducing time and effort compared to manual analysis.

  • SAP HANA Cloud
    • SAP HANA Cloud Vector Engine

The upcoming release of SAP HANA Cloud introduces a vector capability alongside existing multi-model features, providing customers with a comprehensive database solution for various types of business data. The addition of a vector engine enables the development of intelligent data applications that combine human intuition with advanced machine learning capabilities. With the vector engine, users can store and compare vectors using SQL, enabling applications like retrieval-augmented generation, recommendations, classifications, and clustering. Key benefits include simplified data architecture and security, insights from combining different data types, easy integration with HANA Cloud ecosystem solutions, and compatibility with open-source tools like LangChain. The SAP HANA Cloud vector engine is in public preview and is expected to be available in late Q1 2024.

Source: https://news.sap.com/2024/03/latest-sap-data-and-analytics-innovations-sap-data-unleashed/

Next to what has been announced during the Data Unleashed event, following functionalities have been introduced by SAP in the latest version of SAP Datasphere.

Version 2024.6 (released on March 12) includes:

  • View Partitioning Advisor Provides More Precise Findings

In Views monitor, the findings provided with the option Rate Column Suitability while creating partitions to persist your views, have been refined with more precise information.

  • X.509 Client Certificate Support for SAP HANA Connections

You can now use X.509 client certificates or certificate chains for authentication when creating connections to SAP HANA in a more secure way. For new connections, X.509 Client Certificate becomes the default authentication type.

  • Add Source Tables from SAP BW Bridge Spaces to Transformation Flows

You can add remote tables located in SAP BW bridge spaces to a transformation flow.

  • Improved Consumption of Associations in Analytic Models

In cases where multiple associations and/or text association are defined on a single attribute in a fact or dimension, you can now specify which association (or local text attribute) should be used for each attribute when analytic models consume your entity.

  • Additional Open SQL Schema Table Metadata

When you import SAP HANA SQL views via Open SQL schemas, you can now obtain input parameters and Not Null and Default Value metadata for columns.

  • Improved User Experience for Analytic Model

We have improved the user experience for the analytic model. Apart from smaller adjustments, semantic information for fact source measures is displayed. On the entry page of the analytic model editor, the deployment date is now displayed. You can now delete multiple dimensions at once. In the details for analytic models, measures, attributes, and variables, the dependencies are now displayed.

  • Consume Analytic Models with Single-Value Variables via OData API

You can now consume analytic models containing variables that require single values via the OData consumption API.

  • Delta Extraction

You can now import tables for delta extraction from an SAP BW bridge connection into an SAP BW bridge space.

Source: https://help.sap.com/whats-new/48017b2cc4834fc6b6cae87097bd9e4d?locale=en-US&Version=2024.6

In SAP’s roadmap explorer for Datasphere, we can find some more interesting upcoming features. These are, according to us, the three most exciting ones coming in Q2 2024:

  • Metadata extraction for SAP Datasphere, BW bridge

Catalog users can search, and discover data from SAP Datasphere, BW bridge Data Sources, Advanced Datastore Objects, Composite Providers, Info Objects, and Info Sources

Harvested metadata, depending on the object will include:

  • Object Metadata such as Name, Type, Creator, Modified By, or Containers Information
  • Column-level details such as List of Fields, Type, or Scales

Catalog administrators can define which part of SAP Datasphere, BW bridge to harvest metadata from using the InfoAreas structure.

  • Additional connection type for Confluent Kafka

Provide a dedicated connection configuration tailored to Confluent Cloud and Confluent Platform

  • Support of local tables with delta capture as sources in replication flows

Support the SAP Datasphere solution as an integrated source connection in the replication flow editor:

  • Allow replication of local tables with delta capture as data source in replication flows
  • Include the support of initial load only replication

Source: https://roadmaps.sap.com/board?PRODUCT=73555000100800002141&range=CURRENT-LAST#Q2%202024

Lastly, we want to draw your attention to upcoming SAP’s What’s New in SAP Datasphere in 2024 event, which will be hosted virtually on April 10.

More information can be found on following page: https://events.sap.com/2024-1231-sap-btp-whatsnew-datashere-webinar-global/en/home

Joachim Dewaelheyns

Analytics consultant @ cubis