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.
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.
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.
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)