If you have read my blog about “How Enterprise Architecture can help me improving User Experience” you will probably have noticed that we’re planning to extend the content of SAP UX Explorer beyond UX.
In this blog, I would like to explain what exactly this means for the SAP UX Explorer.
Let me start with a flashback to where we are coming from, first. After that, I will share with you what we have changed today and what our plans are for the next few months.
From the initial idea to a well-accepted source of information
What many people don’t know is that SAP UX Explorer has a history that goes back to 2010. This was when the idea was born to help customers interested in user experience improvements by providing them with structured information about their improvement options. This was accompanied by the idea of having a self-service at the end that would enable customers and partners to get the information they need fast and at one place.
We started working on an information structure that ended up in a pre-version of the SAP UX Explorer, based on a PPT document using the Solution Map concept. You can still find the outcome in the web on a fileserver of the German SAP User Group – DSAG. It’s a kind of historic document.
A certain amount of time passed before we were able to define and build a tool that would serve up the information in an appetizing manner. A large number of customer meetings brought us to the realization that customers were searching for a single source – at least as a starting point – to explore which topics might be of interest at all and which not. The intention was not to replace other sources at SAP. Many customers said that the content of all these SAP sources was good but simply too detailed to do anything with. The aim therefore was to provide an information hub providing quick and condensed information about the topic in question.
We also noticed that many people had difficulties understanding the relationship between all the different components, technologies, and concepts. Fortunately, I told a colleague of mine called Peer Hilgers about our findings. Peer was working a lot on semantic networks and immediately recognized the benefit of building a semantic network as a foundation for our tool.
In late 2012, we started to define and develop the first version of SAP UX Explorer, a tool to provide a quick summary and more details if needed.
The picture above shows an early stage where we were evaluating the different relation types that would exist in our semantic network.
In May 2013, during SAPPHIRE 2013, we went live with the SAP UX Explorer deployed to the SAP HANA Cloud Platform.
This first version included about 100 UX-related topics with a maximum of 10 facets available per topic. In the meantime, we have more than 200 topics with more than 20 facets available, depending on the topic in question.
Since then, we have made a lot of enhancements to the tool and the content which we have documented in an SCN blog. The most visible one was the update of our user interface in order to make it compliant with SAP’s “One Digital Experience” program.
The content will grow far beyond UX
Talking to customers and partners about SAP UX Explorer over the past two years, the most significant feedback we have received is as follows:
- “The Explorer is very helpful, but UX is not the only topic I have to tackle in my enterprise. Couldn’t you add additional aspects besides UX?”
- “While the Explorer can help me to learn more about my options, I would like to have more guidance on how to combine and use these options.”
During the same period, our team has evaluated a way of providing a new structure that is not UX-specific but relevant to everybody. We have identified Enterprise Architecture as a great framework, providing a structure that we can work with in order to grow our content organically beyond UX. So we started – again – to build an idea and execution plan.
As a result, we have been working on new UX content that fits the Enterprise Architecture structure. Since August this year, we were also preparing content for a focus area called “Landscape Architecture”. The last weeks, we have merged the new content from a sandbox environment into our productive content development environment. Today, we went live with SAP UX Explorer 3.0.
Obviously, this is just the beginning of a longer journey of adding new focus areas. Hopefully, we will soon continue with “IoT” as another area.
On the way to a SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer
New content and new tool features
As we went live with version 3.0 today, we have also switched the Semantic Viewer from a closed beta phase to an open beta. From now on, you will therefore be able to find already a lot of new information, together with a great new functionality to explore the information based on a graphical tool.
New content structure
We have kept our well-received information structure, which defines how a topic is described by summary, features, benefits and other facets.
The content structure, which defines the overall categories where topics are sorted in, has been modified however. If you make regular use of the Browse Topics page, you will see a change there. The following categories represent the new content structure.
IT Focus Areas
- User Experience
- Landscape Architecture
- (More to come in 2016)
- Transition Paths
- Architecture Viewpoints
- Architecture Patterns
- Goals (planned for Q1/2016)
- IT Capabilities (planned for Q1/2016)
- Strategies & Methods
- SAP Products & Services
- SAP Technology Components & Application Functions
- SAP Assisting Services
- SAP Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS)
- Third Party Products & Functions
If you are using the SAP UX Explorer mainly via the search function at the top and the relations within the topics, you will hardly notice this structure and can continue working as before. You will see a brief description however at the top of each topic, indicating the related categories in the content structure. Even this is a small enhancement it has very positive influence to the way you can navigate through the network of topics.
A new name: SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer (SAP EA Explorer)
We do not change the name of the SAP UX Explorer immediately. There has to be a change soon however, in order to clearly indicate that the Explorer contains more than just UX. I guess we will wait until we have received enough feedback to understand how the new content and the structure changes are accepted. Nevertheless, I wanted to provide you with advance warning of this name change.
So please don’t be surprised if you access our page and encounter a “SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer”. In fact, the redirect http://sap.com/eaexplorer is already working and can be used already.
Summary – What can you expect?
Let me close by answering the question of what you can expect from the Explorer today and in the coming weeks and months.
- The Explorer becomes an information platform for new areas of information beyond UX, now.
- The Explorer has a new content structure that will align us more with Enterprise Architecture.
- All users who work primarily with the search, or by navigating from topic to topic, might not see huge changes immediately.
- The changes are there though and will provide new insights and viewpoints to the content.
- We have integrated the Semantic Viewer as Open Beta into the Explorer.
- The Explorer will soon be renamed to SAP Enterprise Architecture Explorer
- New focus areas will be added to the Explorer soon.
I hope that you are as excited about these developments as our team is. Let us know what you think and leave comments below.