It is that time of the year again. A ton of technically inclined SAP professionals flock to Vegas for a week of presentations, demos and hands-on. If you are not coming this year, well, you will miss an important event.
I mention that because I believe these are very important times for SAP. In-memory, Cloud and even mobility, SAP priorities lined down a few years back are finally coming to maturity. This is translated in a wide range of offerings, some clearer than others, yet many that are worth checking out.
I have the opportunity to come every year. Sure there is content overlapping between years. After all, the speed of innovation is irregular. Some years are slow while others seem that are so fast that we just can’t keep up. This could be one of those years.
So, what do I expect to hear at this year’s event? Here is a little summary:
With the leadership of Sam Yen, SAP has taken priority of working its UI experience. End-users have been put in priority. This translates to a wide range of very interesting and promising offerings.
Some may say it is a late response to GUIXT but I believe it is a lot more than that. Screen personas gives the ability of tweaking SAP screens in a way that can greatly simplify business processes and further increase adoption. Bye bye old ugly/clunky, welcome beautiful. Going a bit further into its capabilities, SAP Screen Personas dramatically increases the enhancement capabilities of SAP screens. Currently, without it, developers often need to either create a new version of the standard transactions or modify standard SAP code. Not many screens are completely configurable in the old Dynpro world. So, doing it can be expensive. As a result, customers result to that only in very clear use cases. Result, often users were presented with transactions that are suboptimal from a usability perspective… Do you know the cost of training and error handling as a result of that?
SAP has adopted SAPUI5 as the development framework for UI’s moving forward. This is an important decision. SAPUI5 interfaces can be very nice and very fast, all with the promise of, eventually, running on any HTML5 browser. Using this programming framework, developers can build incredibly looking transactions. Consumer grade ones. This is not small feat.
Built on top of SAPUI5, Fiori is both a programming framework and a set of applications delivered by SAP to cover the most typical, simple, high-usage scenarios, from Workflow approvals, to inventory check, etc. These apps are presented to the user in this framework, Metro style, with tiles. The Fiori Framework helps a lot the app to run on desktop, tablets or phones. Sure that only 25 apps were part of the first release and customers may need to ask themselves how many of them are really applicable to their realities, but SAP is delivering more and more apps with subsequent releases. My take is that if a customer can either use or largely leverage one app on a clear use case, Fiori may be already worth looking at…
The need for consolidation
And here comes the challenge: 20-30 different UI technologies SAP has put in place over time. They need to co-exist, well, in a practical way for end-users, so they don’t become irrelevant. That, for me at least, is one of the reasons why ABAP Webdynpro has not been adopted by users to the extent it could. SAP Customers deploy most often transactions via SAP GUI. Asking users to log into the browser to perform one or two steps of their day-to-day jobs is simply not practical.
What about NWBC (Netweaver Business Client)? Great promise, but largely unused. That is said, because it has the potential. Is this the reason why it doesn’t even exist in a version for Mac? (I know, the integration with the SAP GUI, java version in this case and its MS Office limitations… etc etc… but c’mon guys…).
This needs to be addressed and what I believe could be great way of doing so is to re-write NWBC for HTML (a version of the NWBC that runs on the browser – without any local install) to leverage both technology advances (like speed) and user experience of SAPUI5. It would be great to hear that SAP moves somehow in that direction.
I mentioned consolidation of Webdynpro and Dynpro (GUI) Screens, but of course it should be done in a way to include Personas and Fiori…
SAP ERP (AiO) for Midmarket
SAP has been offering All-in-One for many years. It is a successful product but it has tough competition. While it is by a very far margin a much deeper product than its competitors, it Achilles’ heels have always been User experience and TCO.
Two very important tracks make the future proposition of AiO very interesting. MCaaS (Managed Cloud as a Service) and UI improvements.
I’ve mentioned above this very positive move from SAP regarding UI experience. Once we have a single point of access to SAP transactions, on a platform independent way as a browser APP, AiO will be a lot closer to addressing the UI challenge. Transactions could be simplified, look better and cost less to develop. This is also TCO reduction.
MCaaS is the proposition that allows vendors to host, manage SAP instances while reselling SAP licenses and services via subscription. This is a request coming from SME market more and more often.
What I would like to hear is more around what SAP will be doing in the near future to help AiO instances to run under this model. RDS (Rapid Deployment Solutions) are an important part of it.
Exciting times indeed. If you are not here, you still have time to come. If not, follow it online. A lot of content will be made available via BLOGs on SCN. Tweet stream will also be very active. Check #SAPTECHED .