SAP Fiori: What is SAP Mobile First?
Take a look at your phone. I guarantee you’ll see screens upon screens of individual apps. Have you ever had to work between two apps? It’s extremely inefficient. Not to be a complainer, I do find it remarkable the access I have to my personal world and to parts of the world I’ve never been or seen. It truly is astonishing what is available on my smart phone and two years ago I would have never imaged my phone being able to do what it can today. But all of these individual apps only have one, or a handful at best, of similar functions. They rarely integrate with each other, leaving the burden on me to navigate to multiple apps to get what I want. Let me give an example of my experience scheduling a haircut today. First, I have to pull up my calendar to see when I’m free this afternoon. Then I select my phone’s ‘home’ button taking me back to my phone’s home screen. I scroll over three screens and find my hair salon’s app. I pull up my stylist’s schedule to see when she’s free this afternoon and it appears the time slot I initially wanted is already taken. I select my phones home screen, scroll back a couple screens and back to my calendar to find another free time. I reenact this a couple times until I can find an open slot for the both of us. And even once scheduled in the salon’s app, I need to head back and make a reminder in my personal calendar. Again, I find it amazing I was able to do all of this at 5am from the comfort of my bed; but even so, it was kind of a pain in the rear.
So what? My user experience of simply scheduling a mere haircut was not ideal, I still got my desired outcome. Well, now put this in the context of your SAP ecosystem. Consider a dream world where ALL of your SAP job functions are available on mobile and data flows smoothly and easily. It probably seems overwhelming and doesn’t seem accomplishable. If it’s a pain to schedule a mere haircut, how am I going to run my business functions simply from my phone? I suspect this is one of a couple reasons why businesses are slow to push into SAP mobility. How in the world would you bounce between different functions, screens and allow dataflow on various screens of your smart phone? Then take that seamlessly unrealistic experience and multiply it by the user experience of hundreds or thousands of employees with different job functions. What a horribly inefficient disaster!
Well, it doesn’t need to be. If you haven’t had your head in the sand in the past few years you’ve heard of this ‘Fiori’ thing and maybe have even done a little research into it. Fiori is not only a nicer looking GUI, but it helps resolve the user experience problem I just described. Fiori gives us the opportunity to change our mindset of how we interact with SAP. Try to pull yourself away from those ugly SAP GUI screens that were created back in the caveman days. Historically your interaction with your SAP desktop screens can probably be described as barbaric. Fiori is giving you the opportunity to design a completely new experience and new way to interact with the system. It truly is a change in mindset. The world is starting to seem like a better place… but don’t get too far down the rabbit hole. We need to get back to mobility.
This is where SAP’s Mobile First comes into play. SAP Mobile First isn’t a product or service that can be bought. It’s a simple design thought process that put’s mobility into the forefront. The foundation of the concept is to look at a specific scenario and design it for the mobile world first. Find smart ways to reduce and reconstruct efficient screens. Group info, fields and buttons into panels that make sense to the mobile end user and finish it off with default selections. Completely break yourself away from the limitations of your desktop experience. What you’ll end up with is a design that focuses on core functionality and ease of use. This doesn’t mean limiting Fiori to only those base functions available on your phone. Additions and enhancements to the desktop experience need to come second. This is reverse engineering how we’ve been trained to design in the past which has been to design the desktop experience first and scale back functionality to fit the mobile environment.
Mobile First is not a new concept. Some design and development teams have been pushing this since before 2010. Unfortunately a lot of us weren’t listening, in fact, many of us still aren’t. So why now? The truth is SAP is starting a major push into the mobile world. SAP is spending significant investment into their HANA cloud platform and IoT. They are continuously innovating a development friendly environment for the two to merge and give the world access to a whole new ecosystem of IoT. Internal business processes will follow suit right behind it. And why shouldn’t they? Why should ordering groceries from your smartphone be an easy task while a handful of simple job functions have to be completed on a poorly designed desktop experience? Don’t fall into the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality. Start dreaming about a fantastic mobile experience. But don’t stop at dreaming, make that dream a reality.