Introduction to Stories in SAP Analytics Cloud
A good way to understand Stories is to think about it as one of three pillars within SAP Analytics Cloud. There are:
Models are the foundation for which stories and presentations are built. It’s here where you prepare your data for analysis by wrangling, or cleaning, your dataset, defining your measures and dimensions, and enhancing your data.
Stories are where your data comes to life with powerful data visualizations. Charts, graphs, tables, and other visual elements are arranged to tell the story of your business or organization and help you discover insights hidden within your data.
Presentations are best viewed with our presentation tool called Digital Boardroom, which is a powerful add-on feature to SAP Analytics Cloud. Digital Boardroom gives executives the ability to view stories on large screens for in-depth analysis and answer ad hoc questions. Basic story presentation can also be handled within story mode.
In this post, we’ll discuss the fundamentals of storytelling, such as:
- Creating a story
- Data view
- Building a story automatically
- Responsive pages for mobile
- Creating a chart
- Creating a table
- Sharing and collaboration
Creating a story
As mentioned, models are the foundation of stories and as such you typically create a model first. You can read all about modeling in our post Introduction to Data Modeling. For the purpose of this post, we’ll assume you’ve created a model or have data to create a story.
You can add data to your story from an existing model, a file, or a data source.
In this case, we’ve opted to create a story from an existing model and selected our travel expense model called ‘Concur_Travel’.
Once we add our data, we’re taken to our Data Explorer in Data View where we can select measures and dimensions to begin building a chart for our Story.
Stories can be told any number of ways. They can be made up of a very specific narrative using a few charts and tables or they can be a complete overview of your entire business. Data View gives us a buffet of choices so that we can decide how to begin telling our story.
As we select different measures and dimensions, charts are automatically created, which we can copy to our story.
Once we’re ready with our charts, we can go into Story View and see our story take shape. As can refine our story by modifying and arranging the charts, colors, and add visual elements. We can always return to Data view by selecting the toggle icon in the toolbar.
Building a Story Automatically
Building a story automatically is a great way to jumpstart the process of creating a new story in SAP Analytics Cloud. Build My Story For Me is a powerful feature that takes your data and transforms it into a presentable story with a single-click.
Once your story is built, you can modify it to suit your needs. You may want to add a new chart, change the colors, or highlight a particular area for emphasis.
To avoid the dreaded blank canvas of despair, we came up with a quick and easy way to get your story up and running. We offer a variety of custom templates that you can choose to give your story some structure.
Once you choose a template, you’re brought into Pages View where you can customize your story.
You can click the + icon on the placeholder charts to choose your own. You can also customize the layout to suit your needs.
You can also create your own template, which can save you a lot of time.
Once you create your story the way you like, navigate to the Save icon and select Save As Template from the list.
Saving your story as a template removes all data and converts charts, tables, maps, and input controls into empty placeholders. All grid pages will be blank and will not retain any of the applied styling.
When you create a new story, your template will be among the ones available.
Responsive pages for mobile
Creating your story responsive pages allows you and your team to view stories on mobile devices. Responsive pages are made up of lanes where you can place your charts, graphs, tables, and other visual elements. When a responsive page is viewed on different sized devices such as smartphones or tablets, the tiles automatically re-flow to fit the lanes.
If you want to see how your dashboard will appear on different screen sizes, you can view it in the Device Preview.
Creating a chart
SAP Analytics Cloud offers a variety of charts that you can use to convey your message. Adding a basic chart is intuitive — simply choose the type of chart you want, then choose your measures and dimensions. Voila!
Let’s look at an example of how we can take an average looking chart, and transform it.
While this chart technically has all the information we need, we can enhance it to make the information pop. We may want to change the colors, the sorting order, the font size, the title, etc.
Here is that same chart with some modifications. Now we can clearly see which sales managers are on target and which are not.
We can also click on any of the data points and launch the Smart Insight discovery panel to uncover the key drivers behind each of the managers’ sales.
Creating a table
Tables are a great way to organize a lot of numeric values. They are also something that many people are familiar with.
The table in this example explores the data for various sales managers. We added a threshold to the ‘Quantity Sold’ column to highlight which of the sales managers are meeting their targets.
We can also take tables to a new level with in-cell charts. In addition to numeric values, you can also display charts that are embedded within the cells.
Designing beautiful stories
One often overlooked aspect in data analysis is design. Beautiful stories can go a long way from enhancing your message to engaging your audience. We created a number of resources intended to take your stories from drab to looking like masterful works of art.
Sharing and collaboration
Stories are meant to be shared, and collaboration often lends itself to better results. In SAP Analytics Cloud you can do both.
Collaborating on stories is made easy with the built-in collaboration tools. You can collaborate on a story by creating a discussion with colleagues, posting comments, or adding tasks for others to complete.
As you create stories, you will likely want to share them with others. You can share stories internally by selecting the ‘Share Story’ icon or you save your story as a PDF and send it to someone outside your team.
When sharing internally, the user will receive a notification that you have shared a story with them along with a hyperlink to the story. If you left any comments or tasks, they will be able to see them, respond, and add comments of their own.