Welcome to the age where data reigns supreme and analytics holds the key to success for enterprises, both big and small.

In this fast-paced digital world, companies that harness the full potential of their data, no matter where it resides, are the ones that soar above the competition.

It is a time when the evolution of cloud technology has transformed the very essence of analytics, expanding its horizons far beyond mere reporting and dashboarding.

The realm of analytics has now become a vast landscape, offering a plethora of functionalities ranging from predictive analytics to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In the vast world of analytics tools and platforms, two powerhouses have emerged as the most popular choices: SAP Analytics Cloud and Microsoft Power BI.

In this blog, cloud experts at VC ERP will help you take a closer look at these two BI giants and explore their key features by comparing their functionalities, such as data acquisition and visualization.

We will help you determine which BI tool is best suited for your unique business needs.

What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence (BI) tools are like super-smart helpers that gather information from different places and make it easy for us to understand.

For instance, let’s say you’re running a baked goods manufacturing unit, and you want to know which of your cakes are selling the most and where most of your customers are coming from.

You can collect data from your sales records, website traffic and even social media with the help of BI tools. Then, the tool organizes all that information in a way that’s really easy to read and analyze.

BI tools also use artificial intelligence to analyze the data for you. They can find patterns, predict future trends, and even give you suggestions on how to improve your business. When it’s time to show your findings to others, the tool can create cool charts and graphs that make everything clear and understandable.

Using a business intelligence tool helps you make better decisions for your bakery. You can figure out which cakes to focus on, where to advertise, and even find ways to make your baking process more efficient. It’s like having a smart assistant that helps you run your business smarter and more successfully.

What is Power BI?

Microsoft introduced Power BI back in 2015 to help people visualize and prepare their data in an innovative way. You start by creating amazing data models and reports using Power BI desktop, which you can install right on your computer.

Once you’ve worked your magic, you can share and access those reports in the cloud-based “Power BI Service”.

The best part is: you can customize your reports to make them even more insightful by collaborating with your friends, colleagues or even your entire team.

It’s a fantastic way to bring your data to life and work together on exciting projects!

What is SAP Analytics Cloud?

SAP Analytics Cloud goes much beyond Business Intelligence.

As a comprehensive business planning and intelligence solution, SAP Analytics Cloud is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering.

It enables organizations to analyze data, make data-driven decisions and share insights across the entire organization.

SAP Analytics Cloud integrates various functionalities such as business intelligence, augmented analytics, planning and predictive analytics into a single platform.

It allows users to connect to multiple data sources, including SAP and non-SAP systems, and bring together data from various business areas for comprehensive analysis.

Power BI vs SAP Analytics Cloud: Choosing the Right BI Solution for your Business

When making a decision between Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud, it is crucial to take into account several factors such as your organization’s current technology infrastructure, the types of data sources you work with, your specific analytics requirements and your budgetary considerations.

In addition, your overall company goals and current challenges determine what could fit your needs the best.

Let’s delve into an in-depth comparison between Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud to understand their differences more comprehensively.

Comparing Data Connectivity Options

Both Microsoft Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) provide the capability to combine on-premise data infrastructure and security with cloud data. These platforms offer two primary types of connectivity to achieve this integration:

Live Connection

Live connection enables creating models directly from on-premise or cloud data sources. Reports and analyses are built on top of these models, allowing real-time exploration without data replication. Both Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud support live connections, ensuring seamless access to data without moving it to the cloud.

Data Import

Data import involves loading data from various source systems into the respective analytics solution. In the case of SAP Analytics Cloud, imported data is stored in its in-memory database (SAP HANA), while Power BI imports data into its SQL database. This approach allows organizations to perform analysis and reporting on the imported data within the analytics environment.

VC ERP Observations

  • When using a BW Live Connection in a Power BI story, only a single connection is allowed
  • Power BI restricts the usage of only one query within a Power BI story when utilizing a BW live connection
  • Within SAP Analytics Cloud, connecting non-SAP databases requires the usage of BO universes live or third-party software such as APOS Live Data Gateway

Data Connection Variations

SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) and Power BI offer distinct capabilities for data connectivity, catering to different systems and requirements. Let’s explore the differences in their data connection options:

Targeted System Connectivity

SAC is well-suited for connecting to SAP products, including SAP Business Warehouse (BW), SAP HANA database, and the ERP system SAP S/4HANA. Power BI, on the other hand, excels in connecting to Microsoft technologies like Azure and Microsoft SQL Server.

Connection Types

Both SAC and Power BI offer various connection types, enabling connectivity to diverse data sources.
  • Both tools support an import connection, allowing data replication to the cloud and storing it in a data model even before creating reports.
  • Power BI provides the DirectQuery connection type, where data structure information such as column names is stored in Power BI, while the transactional data remains in the source system.
  • SAC utilizes live connections, fetching data exclusively from the source system at the time of report execution and displaying it in the dashboard.

VC ERP Observations

Power BI can connect to SAP BW data sources. However, it’s worth noting that compared to SAC’s live connection, Power BI may not fully support all the backend functions offered by SAP BW.

Data Preparation and Modelling

In the process of preparing data for analysis, extensive transformations and enhancements are performed on large datasets. These data modeling activities involve the following aspects:
  • Category Definition
  • Hierarchical Relationships
  • Key Figures and Dimensions
  • Units and Currencies
  • Custom Formulas
  • Data Wrangling

VC ERP Findings

During our evaluation of SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) and Microsoft Power BI, we assessed the availability of common functions such as union, join, hierarchies, advanced calculations, smart grouping and value formatting as essential requirements.

Power BI:
  • Demonstrates more maturity in grouping values for comparison
  • has limitations in processing hierarchies, allowing only one hierarchy per dimension and lacking support for time-dependent or multi-version hierarchies
  • lacks text variables functionality, while SAP BW offers changeable default values for improved user experience
  • lacks the ability to transfer defined sort orders from SAC, resulting in limitations in displaying calendar months or customizing sort orders
  • lacks essential features like currency conversion, numerical formatting, and sufficient scalability, which reduce user-friendliness and suitability for standard reporting

Data Visualization

Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) are self-service solutions that can help you create clear, appealing, and meaningful stories from data. They offer various chart types like comparison, distribution, composition, and performance, along with numerical visualizations such as KPIs and tag clouds.

However, when it comes to special features like geo representations, SAC excels. It provides ESRI Charts and supports GEO JSON, whereas Power BI lacks these capabilities. If you require visualization types like Heat Map Layer, Symbol Maps, or Flow Map, SAC is the better choice as Power BI doesn’t support them.

VC ERP Findings

When selecting between Power BI and SAC for data visualization, it’s essential to consider your specific requirements.

SAC offers superior capabilities in geo representations, visualization types like Heat Map Layer, Symbol Maps, and Flow Map, as well as integration of the IBCS® notation concept. Standardization is crucial in self-service BI to maximize informative value and facilitate better decision-making.

Application Development Capabilities

SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) with its Application Designer, allows for the creation of individualized and complex dashboards. Although the range of functions is not yet on par with Lumira Designer, SAC’s Application Designer is expected to undergo further development in the near future.

For example, users can generate a sales activity in SAP CRM or trigger a purchase order in SAP Ariba directly from a SAC report. In short, report recipients can actively interact with the operational system, further enhanced by SAC’s integrated functionalities for planning, analysis, and forecasting.

VC ERP Findings

SAP Analytics Cloud offers a powerful Application Designer and enables interactions with transaction systems, providing a closed-loop approach with its application development capabilities. Although SAC’s functionalities are still evolving, it offers unique advantages compared to Power BI, which is primarily positioned as a self-service solution at the moment.

At VC ERP Consulting, we understand that every business has unique reporting needs, and we pride ourselves on being the best implementation partner for both Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC).

Our expert team is dedicated to helping you expand and fully exploit the potential of these powerful reporting technologies, ensuring that you achieve maximum efficiency and value.

Choose the Right BI solution for Unique Business Needs with VC ERP Today!

When it comes to business intelligence, both Power BI and SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) have established themselves as powerful tools with widespread adoption in the industry. However, determining which platform is the best fit for your organization requires careful consideration of your individual needs and requirements.

Experts at VC ERP Consulting suggest that the choice between Power BI and SAC is not a one-size-fits-all decision. Each platform has its own strengths and capabilities, and what works well for one organization may not necessarily be the best fit for another.

It is important to prioritize your specific needs and goals to select the platform that will provide the most value and align with your long-term business strategy.

Choosing the right business intelligence platform requires a thoughtful and systematic approach. By evaluating your individual needs, conducting trial runs, and involving key stakeholders, you can make a well-informed decision.

Whether you opt for Power BI or SAC, both platforms offer robust features and functionality to unlock the power of your data and drive informed decision-making within your organization.

Are you ready to transform data into actionable insights? Get in touch with the best SAP Gold partner in India, VC ERP Consulting. Call +91 7948998911 (India), Whatsapp +254 111229970 (Kenya) or drop an E-mail at