The famous industrial designer Dieter Rams knew good design, dating back to the 1960s when he had major success at Braun. Even today, Apple’s products are heavily influenced by Mr. Rams’ designs (see this comparison). One of his key principles is that designers should eliminate the unnecessary, that good design emphasizes usefulness and disregards anything that detracts from it.
Well, current business planning applications are not exactly adhering to this principle. They’re complex for end-users, focus on technical features, and distract with cluttered interfaces.
This will change. Last week, Gerrit Kazmaier (Vice President, SAP EPM Development) and I announced SAP Cloud for Planning – a brand new SaaS solution for finance and business professionals to plan simpler. It will have things you’ve never seen before in a planning application; but when you do, you won’t believe how you could have done without them.
With SAP Cloud for Planning, we decided to do things differently:
- Unlike 1st generation cloud EPM vendors, we’re not taking age-old planning concepts, putting them in the cloud, and calling it a solution. Cloud is an opportunity to re-design planning for the way that people actually work. Why not create a planning application that’s as easy to use as your consumer applications? Are we serious about this? You bet – we have a dedicated design team of graphic and product designers with backgrounds from famous design agencies. No one else has this.
- We created a start-up mentality in a big company — a start-up on steroids. This allowed us to innovate fast, break things, and then improve them for the end-user. We’re laser focused on creating the best planning application, period. And with all the latest and greatest technologies and resources that only a big company like SAP can provide. We innovate like a start-up and compete like a start-up but without the drawbacks of immature technology.
Good design is not about removing complex technology that makes a product useful, it’s about hiding it from the end user. Look, for example, at Beats’ music service app on the iPhone. Beats has complex algorithms to search through millions of songs based on your preferences, but it’s still extremely simple to use. Beats designed its app for you to press ‘play’ as fast as possible, since listening to music is the core product. Similarly, SAP wants you to plan as fast and as easily as possible. While still giving you the ability to perform complex calculations over large volumes of data.
That’s why even in the cloud, an industry standard platform like SAP HANA is extremely relevant. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. That’s like saying the engine of a car doesn’t matter as long as the steering wheel feels nice. For simple planning to be useful you need high performance and scalability, you need a platform that integrates with other applications better than anyone else.
And even though SAP Cloud for Planning is brand new, you are in safe hands. We know business applications, we are experts in planning, leaders in analytics. It will have the best integration with your other SAP applications like SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, SAP Business Warehouse, and SAP Business Suite. We channel 40+ years of experience into this innovation. Maybe we should call it version 40.1 rather than version 1!
Here’s what I predict will happen:
- You will love the way this application looks
- You will like how this application fits your job
- You will want to work with this
We combine great design with high quality engineering to create a useful planning application that disregards any distractions.
Dieter Rams might approve.
Next blog you will hear from Gerrit Kazmaier. @Gerrit, please tell us why design isn’t just for designers, but also engineers for whom “Code is law.”