SAP Analytics Cloud: Digital Boardroom – who says you can’t teach an old boardroom new tricks?

19 September 2017

Connor Nelson

Connor Nelson

Consultant
 

We live in a world where technology has enabled us to receive instant gratification. If you want to watch an episode of The Office, it is instantly there for you on demand. Buying a fidget spinner is as easy as a few clicks and it will be on your doorstep tomorrow. Technology has revolutionized the way we live and now it’s time to change the way we work. The SAP Digital Boardroom enables executives to interact with visualizations, interpret data, and make key decisions much faster than before. 

What is a Digital Boardroom?

The SAP Digital boardroom (DiBo) takes the Business Intelligence (BI), planning, and predictive capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) and brings them to a three-screened mega board. All those same visualizations created from a user’s stories within SAC can now be used in presentations, by simply adding them to an agenda.
 
An Agenda (pictured below) is an interface used to organize your meeting, and allows the presenters to dive into their specific stories with a few clicks. What a user once would have copied and pasted on 50 slides, is now all dynamically displayed across its screens. DiBo aims to replace the traditional PowerPoint or Excel boardroom presentations with a filterable, drillable, intuitive interface that allows its users to gain further insight instantaneously.

Example of an agenda
 

Three screens are better than one

About two months into starting my job at SAP my manager suggested I get certified in this new database platform called HANA. After a few hours of constantly pressing alt+tab between windows of my HANA studio and the guides/instructional videos, I decided to buy an external monitor. I never went back, and now I loathe when I have to operate on a single screen.
 
The three-screen functionality offered in DiBo allows users to take that one screen, which typically can fit four visualizations, and instead visualize 12. During your meeting there is no one asking, ‘can you go back to that slide?’. By having this multitude of visualizations you can easily see different correlations or cause and effect scenarios.
 
Another nice touch is that it can be made touch screen friendly by simply installing a chrome extension. Although it is possible to use DiBo on a single, non-touch screen, I think after getting a taste of the three you’re not going to want to go back.
 

Joining the Boardroom virtually

DiBo also has a built-in display feature for those who need to join the meeting virtually. Much like JoinMe, Adobe Connect, or other screen sharing programs, the host can send out a URL for others to join the meeting. To join the meeting however, you must have a user created within SAC to join.
 
If you are already logged into your SAC account, you will receive a notification when you are invited to the meeting. The red phone icon pictured below is a bit deceiving, as there is no audio, and that button is just used to end the meeting. What is beneficial is the ability to create annotations on top of the visualizations, much like you could on a whiteboard.
 
You can also send/request annotation rights to other users so they can contribute as well. Due to the lack of audio and not allowing guests to join, DiBo is still a bit away from being completely independent from third-party virtual meeting software, which shouldn’t be a big deterrent for most users, but would be a nice-to-have feature. 
 

Example of annotations during a DiBo meeting

Is it worth it?

There are several benefits of using DiBo, including the easiness of taking a story that is already used daily by an analyst and adding it to part of an agenda. Whereas before, this analyst would have to create a presentation with static screenshots, they can now just add it to the agenda with minimal time and effort.

By having the visualizations be active, its allows the board members to ask further questions and to dive deeper into the summarized, or even transactional data if necessary. This data could be real-time depending on its data connection within SAC, which could be beneficial depending on your use case. From one of my past experiences creating a Digital Boardroom, the executives did not want real-time analysis and instead wanted to use it just for quarterly or year-end reviews.
 
Executives often receive reports from many different reporting tools. Another benefit of using DiBo is utilizing SACs ability to pull and blend data from varying sources, and presenting it in a unified view. Overall, if your organization is using SAP Analytics Cloud, I think utilizing the DiBo would be very beneficial for an organization, but I would say it is unrealistic to make DiBo the driving factor of why you want to purchase SAC.
 
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About the author

Connor Nelson

Consultant