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Gain Instant Understanding with the Magic of the Semantic Layer

SAP Data Warehouse Cloud enables seamless collaboration between business and IT to drive business results.

As explained in my previous blog, the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud semantic layer provides the means for efficient universal data access for the business. The semantic layer bridges the gap between the underlying data structure and core business concepts. Implementing this layer involves a collaborative effort between IT and the business; SAP Data Warehouse Cloud simplifies and accelerates the process of mapping everyday business terms to the underlying data structure.

Skilled IT professionals are responsible for providing secured corporate data in a consistent and trusted way. Their task is to ensure availability of that data 24×7. Those professionals are a scarce resource and are often in high demand. Typically,  IT has the capacity to provide standard services for the entire enterprise, but insufficient resources to cater to all the individual requirements of the business users.

 

Resources are scarce

One of the most frequent complaints from business organizations is that IT takes too long to build reports for them. (The scarcity of resources mentioned above no doubt plays a big role in that lag.) Today’s business users do not want to wait. A new generation of business users with growing affinity for working with data are increasingly asking for self-service analytics. They want the independence to build their own reports with their own data. Moreover, they want to work not just with their own data sets, but to blend it with global, governed data required for comprehensive analysis.

Of course, such data doesn’t come out of the box, and accessing and using it requires adherence to organization-wide rules for data governance. The office of the Chief Data Officer defines and safeguards those rules to provide reliable and stable services The rules ensure that data cannot be changed or adapted ad-hoc, but rather via well-defined rules and processes.

In the traditional approach to self-service analytics,  business users ask IT for an export of data from enterprise systems which they can load it into their analysis tools. Such a move can put data security at risk  if, as is often the case, the analysis tool does not adhere to enterprise standards for governance and security. Additionally, results produced from a data export will soon be outdated. To keep the analyses up to date, the business must spend more and more time on IT tasks: getting a fresh data export, integrating data into the self-service tool, repeating the analyses, etc. To make matters worse, a one-off data export does not produce results that other groups can verify. They are therefore unlikely to trust those results.

 

A New Model for Collaboration

SAP Data Warehouse  Cloud changes the way IT and business collaborate. With a semantic layer mapping data infrastructure to business needs, IT can offer  trusted, secured, and reliable global data sets that business users can easily analyze and report on. The semantic layer gives analysts the data they need while ensuring compliance and enabling data governance. It directs all the data through a single funnel, scrubbing sensitive information, and delivering it to business users or third-parties who can then access the data without exposure to Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Leveraging the query federation capabilities within SAP Cloud Data warehouse enables business users to access the data without requiring that IT replicate the underlying data sets into different environments. Business users can access global governed data sets exposed by IT in a secure way, without copying the data into a dedicated, unsecure environment. As all data remains inside the SAP Data warehouse Cloud, individual lines of business can each have their own space where users can blend the global datasets with their own local datasets, combined under the umbrella of the embedded semantic layer.

With such an architecture, business users can be sure that data is always up to date and can focus on their analyses (rather than on moving data around or trying to ensure data quality). Once a data model defined by the business proves to be valuable for a larger community, SAP Data Warehouse Cloud makes it easy for IT to jump in again, relieve business of the maintenance, and enhance the model to keep it in line with corporate standards—without having to re-build things from scratch in a different environment.

Better for IT and the Business

In this scenario, everybody comes out ahead. Making the best use of available resources, IT gets out of the business of managing data exports and reporting cycles, and instead supports a data environment fully accessible to business users. This frees them to provide more advanced support when truly needed and to focus on their many other priorities. The organization gets faster, more detailed, more accurate reports—all of them better aligned with business needs. Collaboration is key. The semantic layer makes it possible.

Author
Stefan Hoffmann Stefan Hoffmann
Stefan has worked for the last 20 years in the area of data warehousing across several areas within SAP such as Development, Product Management and Consulting. He gained a profound knowledge on architectures, trends and customer requirements through multiple large scale data warehouse implementations worldwide. In his current role, he is working as Product Manager for SAP Data Warehouse Cloud with a strong customer focus.
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