[caption id="attachment_2537" align="aligncenter" width="485"] A screenshot from SAP's Net Margin Analysis application.[/caption] SAP’s new Net Margin Analysis application relies on data analytics to provide insights into the topic closest to your average CFO or accountant’s heart: costs. More precisely, the app offers a view into the financials behind business-to-business (B2B) operations, including cost-to-serve metrics, or the indirect costs related to supply chains—many of which aren’t necessarily visible in a standard spreadsheet. SAP claims the app can save businesses up to five percent on indirect costs within the first year of installation. As with many data-analytics tools currently on the market, SAP Net Margin Analysis offers role-based dashboards and graphic reports (complete with guided navigation), presumably allowing even those not intensively trained in data analytics to grasp the gist of the information before them. Karen Lynch, vice president of SAP’s Global Wholesale Distribution, suggested in a July 11 statement that the app would help unveil costs normally “below the radar” of many companies: “Previous offerings could only provide a ballpark figure on such costs.” Moreover, the software delivers its information in a speedy manner: “Detailed metrics that took months to produce can now be viewed and acted upon immediately.” The app includes an analytics tool for gauging the possible impact of an action before it’s taken. For example, the user can adjust a particular discount or reward option, or even “move” the best practice from one segment of the business to another, in order to determine how it will affect metrics such as revenue. SAP currently occupies a lofty position in the B.I. market, with research firm Gartner naming it the top B.I., analytics and performance-management (PM) software vendor in 2011, with 23.6 percent market-share based on revenue. In that analysis, Oracle came in second, with 15.6 percent, followed by SAS Institute with 12.6 percent, IBM with 12.1 percent, Microsoft with 8.7 percent, and “Other Vendors” with 27.5 percent. While that seems like a solid lead, however, the growing enthusiasm among businesses for B.I. and data analytics has compelled SAP’s rivals to pour more effort into their own products. Oracle recently launched Oracle Cloud, which features dozens of enterprise-grade applications, and firms from IBM to Microsoft have offered up improved apps and platforms for analytics in recent months.   Image: SAP