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You may have noticed something new around Fiori and the Hana Cloud Platform. Since a couple of weeks, there is a Fiori Demo in the cloud. It is however, not just a showcase of what Fiori apps can do on-premise.

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No, it’s about what Fiori apps can do, when they are hosted on the Hana Cloud Platform. It’s about how you can extend the reach of your core ERP system, without the need for any extra infrastructure. It’s about how you can easily subscribe to new apps, and make them fit your flavour.

Anyway, there will be plenty of information available in the future, about all functionality and features (or look at Aviad’s blog). What I want to talk about, is how SAP is relying on the SAP Eco-system, to get ideas, information and feedback on their product.

How it began

A while back, I received an invitation, via a long detour, to participate in a workshop around Fiori and Hana Cloud Platform. I’m very interested in both of these products, so I immediately sent in my case to express my interest. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from the workshop, and I may have had a wrong idea of what to get out of the workshop. In hindsight though: good thing I did.

During a very intensive 2-day workshop, we got to see some of the new products SAP is working on, how they work together and what might still be missing. Our part in the workshop was to point out the good, the bad and the ugly. At a horribly fast pace, we were bombarderd with presentations showing us features, roadmaps, possibilities, all you could possible dream of, and much more than we could absorp. The presentations took turns with demo’s and Q&A sessions. Whilst we were still very active in the morning, once lunch was approaching, the level of energy started to drop dramatically.

So the afternoon needed some spice to reinvigorate us and get us back on our toes. Throughout the entire workshop, we were constantly challenged to give our opinion, and ask difficult questions. The SAP team took every question seriously. Some were beyond the scope of the workshop, and so were parked on a flipchart, to take up afterwards. That parking lot was pretty full at the end of the first day. So we had to wash that down with some food and drinks.

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In this picture: Robert Eijpe, Theo Bolta, Tamas Szirtes Aviad Rivlin, Elizabeth Thorburn Lee Mears, Jeremy Good and many more…

Architecture

The second day of the workshop dealt about the larger architecture. Were day one was still focused heavily on the inner workings of the product, day two was about how the product had to integrate with the rest of the world. That’s the part that I found most interesting. I mean, the product in itself is already pretty good. You can tell that already just by looking at the demo. Sure, there’s room for extra features and a bit of tinkering with the Tile-clutter. But what really makes the difference to customers, is how easy it is to integrate with their own backend. How easy is it to extend? How easy is it to manage? As a partner: how can I make money out of it?

That’s what day 2 was all about…

We were seperated into smaller groups, to come up with proposals for the integration architecture, the system landscape, the account management, versioning, roadmap management,…

Next, we also had to present, and defend our proposals in competition to the other groups. Sometimes, the different groups came up with the same proposal, sometimes they completely differed from eachother, which sparked really interesting discussions. At least I got a better idea of how some organizations work internally.

My takeaway

That’s the part I loved most about this workshop: We were given a voice to influence the future strategy of SAP around their architecture setup of Fiori in the Cloud. We were given the chance to completely flip the page, and reinvent the idea around system landscapes. There were no fixed perimeters. We were allowed to freewheel and come up with entirely new approaches around development, deployment, version management,… and we did.

And you know what surprised me most? Some of the technical guys of the SAP product team were in the room, and they were actively thinking along with us, around our idea. Not to direct it back to what they know, but to completely toss aside all prevailing ideas, and see how far we could go with the new ideas.

I absolutely loved how the technical folks, product management and stakeholders on SAP side were actively engaging with us, and how they were accepting new ideas. I know that’s a part of design thinking, and it was probably hammered in beforehand to not dismiss any ideas, but the way they were engaging and taking notes and painting out new ideas, makes me confident that some of the radical changes will actually be seriously considered and might even make it into the final product.

And then this makes me wonder:

Surely, this can’t be the first time SAP actively engages partners and customers in their new product development. The level of enthusiasm and (in my opinion) valuable feedback was so high, that SAP should be doing this on every product.

Much to my surprise, (or ignorance) it wasn’t just a 2-day workshop, but instead, it was just the kick-off of a council, which will remain involved in the further development of the Fiori Cloud initiative.

This collaboration is a great initiative which falls in line with the changing mindset a SAP. I hope to see more of these initiatives (and invitations).

(But not too many, because it’s darn tiresome)

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6 Comments

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  1. Jeremy Good

    Tom,

    Thank you for sharing your perspectives on the workshop!  Your comments about any pre-conceived expectations on what to get out of the session gave me a good laugh.  As I pointed out during the kickoff with the orange question mark (shown below) – what makes this workshop format unique is you never know what to expect, and that is a good thing!

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    Perhaps for the next workshop I should use a paraphrased quote from Forrest Gump: “…life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

    Best Regards,

    Jeremy Good

    SAP Technology RIG

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  2. RA Eijpe

    Hi Tom, Jeremy, Aviad and others.

    These were two damn good days and I liked them. I fully agreed with Tom. This is the way how SAP should involve Partners and Customers.And this is the way for Fiori in the future. So all my kudos to the team of Jeremy.

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    1. Jeremy Good

      It was our pleasure to host and participate in this workshop – the dynamics in the meeting rooms and the enthusiasm from the participants was amazing.

      Robert – slight correction, it was team SAP (not only team Jeremy), and just like here in the community, we are all at our best when working together with a common vision and purpose.

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  3. Helmut Tammen

    Hi Tom,

    I totally agree with you and thank you for this great summary. These were two great days in Walldorf and worth the time we spent there. I was impressed how open the colleagues from SAP were for all the ideas that came up and how they involved us partners and customers into the future development of the product “Fiori in the Cloud”.

    Another impressive thing for me was that big customers as well as little partners had the same vote. This illustrated that SAP is not only aware of the importance of customers but also of their partners.

    Many thanks to Jeremy, Aviad and all the others who made these days to some of the most remarkable ones of my year. I hope we will have some great discussions and insights about and into the future of the product in our SAP Jam group in the next time. Maybe we will meet again in one or two years and talk about the next innovation cycle of SAP Fiori in the cloud and hopefully we the customers and partners can then tell you how we managed our first implementations and changed the world a little bit 🙂 

    Best regards

    Helmut

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