“What can be done to improve SAP’s user experience?”
“Which tools are available and when can they be used?”
“How can SAP Design Services help to achieve user experience success?”

To answer those questions I recently hosted a Webinar, presenting SAP’s User Experience (UX) strategy to SAP customers, and talked about how this strategy can be applied to their organizations. In this blog I would like to recap and share the UX strategy and how SAP’s Design Services fit into the picture.

The SAP User Experience Strategy

The way people work with software has changed dramatically over the last number of years. Today people use intuitive touchscreen devices as part of everyday life, and they are used to the speed and simplicity they get from their experiences with Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and Pinterest. This experience raises the bar as users demand the same experience from SAP solutions. Customers are increasingly telling us that user experience is the differentiator, not just the features and functions.

Hence, starting in fall 2012, we did what we preach when talking about customer centricity and invited our customers to tackle the user experience challenge jointly, as one team. All participating parties brainstormed, exchanged, analyzed and defined as a result the new user experience strategy: NEW, RENEW and ENABLE. This is enabling customers to get ready for changing the game of user experience!

Here’s the big picture of the UX strategy that the customer / SAP team co-developed:

  • Provide consumer-grade UX for new applications
  • Renew existing applications by improving the UX of software supporting the most commonly-used business scenarios
  • Enable customers to improve the UX of the SAP software they use to perform their own mission-critical business scenarios
UX Strategy.PNG
How do SAP UX Design Services fit into the picture?

The good news: more and more IT organizations around the world are realizing that being successful requires more than an efficient software implementation; they need to understand the end users and their goals, needs and motivations.
Customers are taking steps further in this direction; they are asking our advice on how to establish design practices that can guide them towards a more human-centric approach in their software implementation.  Our new portfolio of design services is our answer to this demand.

SAP is offering end-to-end design services, backed up by SAP’s UI technologies and extensive global enterprise expertise.

We now have the tools and technologies to support a user-centered design methodology. Now we have to change the way how we engage. Design skills are rapidly becoming the premium. It is a different way of thinking. SAP offers Design Services that can help us to learn and do it ourselves.“ Benjamin Salter, Valero

To find out more about the SAP UX strategy and our UX design services, download this presentation and watch the recording of the webinar session here.
Keeping the conversation about User Experience going


I am looking forward to hear from you, what you think about SAP’s user experience strategy and the UX design services.
 
Best regards,
Andreas Hauser
 
Global Head of the Design & Co-Innovation Center, SAP
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16 Comments

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  1. Sharath M G

    Hello Mr. Andreas,

    Thank you for sharing the SAP roadmap towards improving UX.

    In my customer engagements, whenever there is a proposal to improve the UX, there is resistance from my  senior management and customer. On further questioning, their hidden fears are:

    1. Effort involved in providing the uX

    2. Cost of the new tools required to support it.

    3. Finally, how does it make a difference in terms of value.

    Generally, they are  ready to compromise stating, ” It’s okay. People are used to older version. It’s not much  of a problem”. Infact, my latest  project for a large auto manufaturer is implement a portal based on JDK 1.4 and views which are not supported in IE9.  Whe, I expressed my dis-satisfaction to my management they replied that we have shared it with  the customer and they are fine  with it.

    How do we address the concerns or convince the customers and management? How can we demonstrate the value add with the  improved UX?

    Thank you.

    Regards,

    Sharath

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    1. Andreas Hauser Post author

      Hi Sharath,

      this is a great question that comes up at many customers.

      Great user experience leads to

      1) Improved user productivity

      2) Increased user adoption

      3) Less user errors

      4) Reduced training costs

      Finally, it leads to cost savings for customers. If you know the business value it is easy to justify costs.

      We also made very good experience with proof-of-concepts (e.g. SAP Screen Personas) by involving end users into the process and showing at one concrete customer  example the value of User Experience and  user-centered design.

      Best regards,

      Andreas

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      1. Sharath M G

        Hello Mr. Andreas,

        Thank you very much for the reply.

        Your webinar did address some of my concerns.

        After all the information, I feel that its the representatives of SAP( SAP and its Partners) who are responsible for communicating the vision to the customer. Only a compelling vision can create the necessary confidence in the customer to invest in UX.

        Hopefully, things change for the better.

        Thank you.

        Regards,

        Sharath

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  2. Andy Silvey

    Hi Andreas,

    thank you for the insight into what’s going on in the User Experience area.

    I’ve been web enabling SAP for 15 years, and for 15 years the User Experience

    has been based around the general look and feel of web site applications.

    Web applications across the board, web site User Experience, has not really

    changed for the last twenty years, there’s the left hand navigation, the top

    level navigation and the main page area.

    Something which is interesting me now, is the Smart Phone and Tablet Apps.

    It is easy to see, that a lot of radical rethinking is going into the Smart Phone and

    Tablet apps, and how to get the most from the smaller canvas.

    I am really impressed with the design of Smart Phone and Tablet apps and

    would like to see web site design move more in the same direction and take

    inspiration from what has been learned about User Experience from the

    Smart Phone and Tablet Applications.

    These Smart Phone and Tablet applications look more business like, are

    more intuitive (they have to be) and therefore friendlier to use and engage

    with.

    The goal of Business IT is to Enable End User Productivity,

         enabling the End Users

              who do the real work and run the Business and make the profit

         to do their job.

    The easier, more intuitive, friendlier, more fun, more engaging, quicker to use, 

    we can make Business Apps the more happy and productive the End Users

    will be and the more profitable the companies will be and the easier it will be

    to get the business case for implementing the software.

    This is a self fulfilling prophecy.

    Best regards,

    Andy.

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    1. Andreas Hauser Post author

      Hi Andy,

      I fully agree with your comments.

      We worked very close with the executive advisory board (EAB) customers on the UX Strategy. Their feedback was that still 90% of their end-users use the desktop. They would like to get the simplicity and intuitiveness of mobile devices on the desktop. Therefore one of our design principles is “Design with Mobile Mindset”.

      What you describe is exactly our goal with the Fiori Concept:

      – Role-Based: De-compose complex UIs into a task-based experience

      – Responsive: Runs on all devices, versions, channels (desktop, tablet, smartphone)

      – Simple: 1-1-3 (1 user, 1 use case, 3 screens)

      – Coherent: Apps speak the same language

      – Instant Value: Low barrier for adoption

      SAP UI5 Technology is the technological foundation to achieve this.

      Best regards,

      Andreas

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      1. Andy Silvey

        Hi Andreas,

        thank you for taking the time to reply and giving us an even deeper insight into what is going on.

        The ‘Design with Mobile Mindset’ sounds very interesting as well as the description you gave for the foundation of the Fiori Concept.

        You know what I would like to see…

        How many SAP Customers run SAP Portal ? Is it 16,000  Productive SAP Portal installations in the Customerbase ?

        A game changer in the SAP Portal area has been SAP Mobile Portal aka Portal on Device.

        With the required underlying version the SAP Mobile Portal provides out of the box support for Smart Phones and Tablets and has done since going generally available last November.

        This means, 16,000 SAP Customers have the infrastructure in place to get Enterprise level SAP applications and business processes onto Smart Phones and Tablets, out of the box, on existing infrastructure, without putting their hands in their pockets for more money.

        Since I first saw SAP Mobile Portal / Portal On Device

             my question has always been,

                  when will the Portal Business Packages be available Smart Phone/Tablet           enabled ?

        When does SAP timetable to Smart Phone/Tablet enable the SAP Portal Business Package suite ?

        I am sorry to reuse an old phrase, but this really is a no brainer for me, and I don’t understand why SAP are not faster mobilising the SAP Portal Business Packages Suite enabling Customers to mobilise their SAP workforce whilst at the same time re-using existing proven infrastructure.

        Thank you again, for giving us all a deep insight into what is going on.

        Best regards,

        Andy Silvey.

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        1. Simon Kemp

          Hi Andy,

          I think the Fiori apps are in a way very similar to portal business packages. The combination of EP and Fiori is a good one IMO, and Fiori can be used with or without a portal.

          Hth,

          Simon

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          1. Andy Silvey

            Hi Simon,

            disclaimer: I am not against Fiori and have no intention to discredit the good work going on with Fiori and what Fiori can do for SAP Customers and Fiori’s place in the SAP stable.

            My problem is this:

            Until November 2012 I was very happy with the SAP Portal product, perhaps not so happy with SAP’s championing and positioning of the SAP Portal, but that’s another story which I clearly explained over here.

            I will try to keep this short and to the point.

            So, until November 2012 I was happy with SAP Portal.

            For me SAP Portal until November 2012 was like a Range Rover with five doors.

            I use this example, because the Range Rover was introduced in 1970 as a 3 door model, and this was a huge compromise for Customers who had wanted a 5 door model from the beginning.  It wasn’t until 1980 that LandRover introduced the 5 door Range Rover. It took Land Rover ten years to give Customers what they had been asking for.

            SAP Portal, for me, had in general, up until November 2012, everything an Enterprise would need to Web Enable SAP.

            Then in November 2012 SAP Mobile Portal aka Portal On Device went into general availability.

            This was a huge leap forward for the SAP Portal, it opened the SAP Portal’s scope up to Smart Phones and Tablets.

            Imagine, any Customer who has the right version of SAP Portal, without any further investment, utilising existing infrastructure, could give their company’s Userbase SAP on SmartPhones and Tablets through the SAP Portal. How pleasing is that for the CFO and CIO/CTO  and ultimately the CEO because of happy employees accessing their Business Processes and Work Items through the SmartPhones and Tablets on the move between meetings as I described here.

            Unfortunately, todate, this is not to be. The SAP Portal, which was the 5 door RangeRover has become the 3 door RangeRover.

            Why ?

            SAP Portal can do everything now,

                 pc’s web browser

                 smart phones

                 tablets

            but SAP are missing going that extra mile to make it do everything. I only hope, unlike LandRover, it doesn’t take SAP ten years to see what they have and change SAP Portal from a 3 door RangeRover into a 5 door RangeRover.

            There is no visibility of a plan or timeline to bring the Portal Business Packages Suite uptodate and available for SmartPhones and Tablets.

            So now we have a great product, which with some investment, could be everything anybody has ever wanted, all under one roof and utilising existing infrastructure and investment.

            I stand by my opinion, that it appears from the outside, SAP has lost focus with the SAP Portal and are not showing leadership and vision and commitment with this product.

            This is very sad, the SAP Portal has the foundations to be everything and do everything and be the figurehead of the Business Suite.

            If I could give SAP one piece of advice it would be, setup a task force to revisit the SAP Portal, and to look at SAP Portal, where it fits into the Business Suite and show leadership, commitment, forward thinking and exploit the SAP Portal as the jewel in the crown which it is.

            Until such time as that happens, I will continue on my crusade to highlight the lack of pursuit of opportunities and strategy for the SAP Portal.

            All the best,

            Andy.

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            1. Yariv Zur

              Hi Andy,

              One point where I fully agree is this – There is zero value in enabling the portal to run on mobile devices if the content itself (the business applications) cant run on mobile devices. No argument there.

              But the reality is that no one is going all the business packages written in WDJ and mobile enable them. My understanding is that path to enable mobile consumption of business application is through Fiori – The existing Fiori apps as well as the ones which are planned will be the “business packages” of the future, IMO, looking at Fiori as the “Plain Vanilla” solution and the architecture behind it (SAPUI5, Gateway) as the target architecture for custom development (as long as you are not doing Native apps) is the way forward. To that end – The portal team have been working on building an integration between Fiori and the Mobile Portal. There is even an RDS where you can get both.

              I hope this helps.

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              1. Andy Silvey

                Hi Yariv,

                thank you for sharing this information.

                May I suggest this is headlined in a blog for the SCN Community, especially the Basis Architects in the SCN Community to clearly understand.

                The strategy needs to be clearly communicated so that Customers can take it into consideration in their forward looking SAP Landscape and Investment planning.

                In the blog, please make sure to tag the blog with the Architecture / NetWeaver Architecture Category tag.

                Thank you and kind regards,

                Andy.

                p.s. I guess, based upon your feedback, here endeth the Crusade.

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              2. Andy Silvey

                Hi Yariv,

                if I can leave the comment, when you say,

                ‘the reality is that no one is going all the business packages written in WDJ

                and

                mobile enable them’

                We all remember that since the beginning of SAP Portal in 2002,  all of the SAP Portal Business Packages were written in WebDynPro Java and resided on the Portal.

                Then when was it, 2009/2010 EHP/34 ? The Business Packages were moved to WebDynPro ABAP and off the SAP Portal.

                One wonders looking back if strategically that was really the best decision.

                Had the Business Packages remained in Java on the SAP Portal, UI5 and JQuery enabling the Business Packages would now be a much easier task.

                But we cannot change the past, only learn from it.

                So, onwards and upwards.

                All the best,

                Andy.

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            2. Simon Kemp

              Hi Andy,

              First I’d like to commend you for your passion about the SAP Portal. The Portal is also something I care deeply about as it has been one of my main focus areas for well over a decade 😯 .

              When the mobile portal first came out I was also wishing and waiting for mobile enabled business packages – some things came along like the mobile UWL that is part of Ent. Workspaces and other bits of EWS are also mobile enabled. But as Yariv Zur already says, Fiori and that style of app is the future direction.

              I also wonder about the longevity of the on premise portal – I see big potential in the HANA Cloud Portal and Gateway as a Service.Will this allow for Fiori style apps to run via the HANA Cloud platform…? We will see I guess.

              One thing we can be sure of is that things will change. I have to say I don’t miss the WD Java era of business packages, one of the best decisions IMO that SAP made was to move those back into the ABAP stack 😀 .

              Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

              Simon

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              1. Aviad Rivlin

                First, I really LOVE to see all the passion about the portal. As you know it is a product that is close to my heart.

                Andy Silvey I get your point about business packages – and you have a point here. But I would like you to keep in mind the integration of the mobile portal to:

                • SAP Fiori
                • Design Studio
                • Mobile UWL
                • Mobile Homepage
                • etc.

                Although these are not the “traditional” business packs as we know them for years – but very good tools/apps to mobilize the enterprise. There were some discussions about VC5 (if you heard about it), but this is still too early.

                Simon Kemp with regard to the longevity of the on-prem portal. We all see the shift in the industry (and by SAP) towards the cloud, but as far as I see this topic, this transition will take few  years, and till then – the portal is here to stay. And yes, expect existing new products powered by cloud and HANA in the portals area.

                Cheers,

                Aviad

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                1. Sharath M G

                  Hello Andy,

                  You have truly opened up the discussion(and minds ) regarding the application architecture.

                  If, it is recommended not to make use of WD ABAP for internet scenarios then we are left with option of UI5 and ( the orphaned), WD Java.

                  Keenly following the reply from SAP.

                  Thank you.

                  Regards,

                  Sharath

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