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Smart Insights for Variances

Learning Article
  • If you’ve spent any time in SAP Analytics Cloud over the past couple of months, then you’ve likely come across the Smart Insights feature. For those unfamiliar, Smart Insights enables you to see more information about acquired data in a chart or variance in your visualization.

    The charts below show the actual and budget sales by product category (left) and the shipping costs broken down by province in Canada (right).

    If we want to learn more about our actual sales for bookcases, for example, we can select the bar directly in the chart and the select the Smart Insight icon (light bulb).

    We are presented with a number of insights about our bookcase sales.

    With Smart Insights, we can identify the top contributing province, as well as the Customer Segment. We can also use the findings to navigate to the different details for each of them.

    Smart Insight for Variances

    Using Smart Insights, we can check for variances and determine the details behind the difference between our actual sales and our sales forecast.

    Returning to the chart showing our sales numbers, we can discover what details are behind the variance for Office Machines.

    Similar as before, the system presents us with key findings. However, this time it’s focused on the variance we selected.

    Now with Smart Insights, we can identify very quickly the three customer segments that are below budget, and one customer segment that’s driving this variance, i.e. Corporate.


    With these insights, we are shown two important pieces of information:

    • the key influencers
    • the variances

    The chart allows us to quickly identify the positive as well as the negative influencing factors.

    If we now go through the next Smart Insights presented to us, we can see that Jumbo Box is responsible for nearly 50% of the change, and the Prarie region is responsible for close to 50%.

    We are able to identify the details behind our sales revenue for a specific product category as well as identify the root cause behind the variance for our actual and budget sales.

    With these new findings, we are able to outline the next steps and perhaps leverage things from the team in the Prarie region in other regions as well to increase our revenue.

    Author: Ingo Hilgefort

    Ingo Hilgefort is the Chief Product Expert for SAP Analytics Cloud based in Vancouver, Canada. Originally from Walldorf, Germany, Ingo moved to Vancouver in 2004, but has been with SAP for over 15 years. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three dogs.