Penn Foster Advances Self-Service Reporting with SAP Analytics Cloud

Complementing on-premise data with the power of cloud-based storytelling and sharing

Providing unique audiences with the knowledge and freedom to interact with customized reports is critical for Penn Foster. Offering vocational and certificate programs, high school diplomas, and workforce development through online education courses, this American education services company needed a solution to provide a more flexible, modern reporting experience to internal customers and external clients.

100 Accredited programs for learners across three schools
1000+ Organizations that trust Penn Foster as their training partner
1 Hybrid solution to support partners and learners

Dunn Solutions, an SAP Platinum Partner, has supported Penn Foster and many other customers in implementing the latest technologies for their businesses’ go-to-market strategy including advanced analytics, cloud extension, and customer engagement. Trusting in their longstanding partnership with Dunn Solutions, Penn Foster looked to move their data analysis and reporting solutions from on-premise to a cloud-based, enterprise-grade platform.

This is how Penn Foster modernized their analytics processes – extending their BI capabilities and reporting with a hybrid analytics solution using both:

  • SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.2
  • SAP Analytics Cloud, a cloud-based product combining data analytics and visualizations for drawing insights in a collaborative and interactive way


We want to explore SAP Analytics Cloud further. We’ve seen what a modern, intelligent analytics solution can do and are recommending our business to continue our investment with SAP extending our on-premise solution to the cloud with SAP Analytics Cloud.

Mark Pawloski, Director of Business Intelligence, Penn Foster

Defining the Data Problem

Penn Foster and Dunn Solutions began their partnership in 2012, exploring the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence product suite. As Penn Foster has grown and transformed, offering technology-based interactive courses as part of The Penn Foster Experience learning model, they saw the need to offer cloud-based interactive reporting for their partners. This way, partners could review the reports based on individual needs and slice and dice data to consider different perspectives in their analysis.

With a complex data landscape and an array of data sources, including Web Intelligence reports, Data Warehouse in SQL server, and combination of Universes, there were challenges in consolidating and modelling data to draw insights quickly and confidently. What’s more, once reports were generated for internal and external audiences, they remained stagnant and static, lacking the next-level interactivity to filter, engage with, and gain insights from data to make the report the user’s own.

Enter SAP Analytics Cloud alongside SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.2 – a hybrid solution for Penn Foster leveraging cloud-based analytics technology with trusted on-premise data connectivity.

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Creating the Connection

To address the challenge of data management and connections, the first step was to look at opportunities to import data into SAP Analytics Cloud.

From SAP BusinessObjects BI Suite 4.2/ SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence to Excel, data is wrangled and modelled, with a scheduled importer from Excel to bring in the data to SAP Analytics Cloud.

After simplifying the connections by using the scheduled import functionality from Excel to SAP Analytics Cloud, Penn Foster reduced manual effort from repeated data uploads and were ready to start bringing their data to life with interactive, visual dashboards.

Real-time Reporting and Results


Highlighting the need for improved reporting capabilities with their analytics solution, Penn Foster looked to empower report recipients with SAP Analytics Cloud. Multiple reports were needed to provide internal customers and external clients with unique reporting requirements.

With visualizations that are easy to generate from pre-created models from SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence reports into SAP Analytics Cloud, Penn Foster was quickly on the way to offering report recipients a cloud-based self-service approach from any device.

With SAP Analytics Cloud, ad hoc reporting and storytelling is efficient and flexible. The ability to add customized filters, input controls, and linked analysis enables unique users to have self-service data analysis – filtering, drilling down into data hierarchies for more details, and more. There’s so much for Penn Foster to look forward to in the world of smart features, interactive storytelling, and turning insights into action with SAP Analytics Cloud.

We look at our transition to the cloud and using SAP Analytics Cloud as a big success. Even though we had a lot to learn with security and new considerations from on-premise to the cloud, everything came together really quickly. SAP Analytics Cloud is a good fit for us, and we are starting on our next projects and opportunities to utilize the intelligent analysis and machine learning capabilities in SAP Analytics Cloud.

Mark Pawloski, Director of Business Intelligence, Penn Foster

Moving Forward with SAP Analytics Cloud

Citing SAP Analytics Cloud as a solution that is friendly to both IT users and business users, especially given the need for self-service stakeholder reporting and data discovery, Penn Foster aims to achieve more. In the future, Penn Foster plans to explore smart wrangling capabilities and augmented analytics with natural language processing and automated insights in SAP Analytics Cloud. For now, the hybrid solution complementing their on-premise investment with an advanced analytics cloud solution is exactly what they need to deliver The Penn Foster Experience at their best.


Ready to see what SAP Analytics Cloud can do for you? Sign up for the free trial today.

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