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The terms x-data and o-data have been used since SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics. Let’s start with a brief refresher of these 2 terms.


Operational data (or o-data) is data from day to day operations and is critical to managing the business. This is SAP’s pedigree and we have been doing it for decades. O-data from enterprise applications like sales, finance, supply chain, or HR systems gives us classic business information like win rate, inventory turnover, financials, employee attrition, profitability, and cart abandonment. O-data tells us what happened.


x-data, on the other hand, is fundamentally different than o-data, and is all about the experiences people have. X-data captures the human sentiment that could influence the rise or fall of a product, increase or decrease a brand‘s value, capture the pulse of a company’s employees, or allow insights on a customer‘s experience at every touchpoint with a company; valuable moments of impact that could make or break a company‘s long term success.

x-data and o-data: Better together than alone

Where o-data from SAP tells you what’s happening, x-data collected by Qualtrics tells us why it’s happening. While both x-data and o-Data are important, they can fail to deliver the big insights hoped for when their combined power is not leveraged in an intelligent manner. Let’s look at an example to understand this better:

Ava is the new Retail Head of Sales trying to increase sales and brand value. Using only operational (o) data, she quickly finds that sales are below forecast and returns are high for a product. However, without experience (x) data, she finds that she cannot fill in the blanks on why some customers are returning products, or why forecasts are not being met in certain regions. To fix this, she collects experience data to better understand what is really driving customer buying behavior. She is surprised to see the influencing factors and reasons for returns, as well as significant global variations on how the product branding is perceived.

It doesn’t take long for Ava to find out that just analyzing experience data without the corresponding product history data, sales metrics, or return rates provides her with only partial insights. This is not sufficient or impactful enough for her business purposes. In order to achieve her objective of increasing sales and brand value, Ava realizes her path to success resides in combining the x-data and o-data and using the combined insights to understand how products are received by different customer segments. This would allow her to take prescriptive corrective actions to achieve impactful business outcomes.

There are many Ava's out there who are quickly finding out that differentiating and growing a business in the experience economy requires actionable insights that can only be derived from a combination of x-data and o-data in an intelligent manner.

Getting to this state of combined insights is attractive but needs an efficient and intelligent Services approach. So, we have introduced #XOAnalytics services that help SAP customers address questions like:

  • How can I combine the power of this rich x-data and vast o-data to provide actionable insights to different levels of the enterprise?

  • How can I maximize ROI on my SAP and Qualtrics investments and drive innovation from rich insights derived from x-data and o-data analysis?

  • How can I get clear advice and guidance on an XO Analytics strategy and realize X+O benefits?

Advisory service for x-data and o-data Analytics

This #XOAnalytics Consulting (PS) service focuses on providing expert guidance to customers looking to drive innovation by harnessing the power of experience data and operational data using Analytics from SAP. Designing and delivering the X+O Analytics capability to efficiently gather, prepare and persist data from SAP’s operational systems (o-data) to compare against and combine with the outcomes of experience tracking (x-data), is specialist work that we are offering through this service.

To make X+O Analytics an integral part of the SAP customer’s business improvement process, the service allows the development of an X+O Analytics capability that seamlessly integrates into the customer’s existing SAP analytics landscape, while moving away from ad-hoc solutions that require massive data movements and manual efforts.

This standardized service provides expert guidance in a phased manner across Prepare, Discover, Design and Deliver phases:

  • Discover: Analysis of As-Is situation from organizational, functional and technical perspective

  • Design: To-Be target architecture for the X+O Analytics capability

  • Deliver: Roadmap design for a staged implementation of the intended solution and Guidance during the Realization phase

This Analytics service also has touch points with other services like the Quick Start Service for Experience Management Solutions that help develop and validate an Experience Management (XM) program strategy.

XOAnalytics in New SAP MaxAttention Analytics and Data Management portfolio

SAP Premium Engagement customers can experience #XOAnalytics using the new SAP MaxAttention Analytics and Data Management (ADM) portfolio across all 3 ADM levels:  Level 1: Value Discovery and Roadmap | Level 2: Accelerating Data to Insights | Level 3: Next Generation Scenarios.

Under Level 1, the “Use-case Exploration and Validation for Analytics & Data Management” service is similar to the Discover phase in the Advisory service and can be used as a starting point for the #XOAnalytics journey with identification and definition of innovative use-cases.

Another Level 1 service, “Expert Guidance on Target Architecture and Road map Preparation” can be used to get guidance on future target architecture and end-state roadmaps.

Level 2 services like "Enablement for Data and Analytics Solutions" and "Best Practices for Analytics and Data Management" allow for accelerated solution development with enablement workshops and Analytics and Data Management design workshops.

Level 3 services like “Jump-start new Analytics and Data Management Solutions” allow development of a customer prototype for an #XOAnalytics use case.

COVID-19 and #XOAnalytics

#XOAnalytics can also be seen as a COVID-19 PE scenario in the recently introduced Essential Business Services from SAP (a portfolio of individual services that are considered to be essential to businesses during the COVID-19 crisis). Customers who wish to get insights on employee safety and well-being through the new PE scenario of Employee Sentiment Analytics (XO) can have these services delivered remotely. Highlights include:

  • Ensuring that the rollout of company-wide initiatives related to COVID-19 is supporting the wellness of employees

  • Bringing together experience data (X-data) and operational data (O-data) with analytics to provide management a centralized view of employee sentiment across the organization

  • Tracking and visualizing the impact of COVID-19 on your companies’ employees

  • Providing expertise on how to ‘extract’ value and insight from X-data with SAP Analytics solutions

Author: Karthik Thirumalai, Vice President, Analytics and Insight Services, SAP Customer Success