If 2017 was the year of digital transformation, then 2018 is the year of the intelligent enterprise. Bernd Leukert, member of SAP’s Executive Board with global responsibility for products and innovation, wrote an article at the end of 2017 that listed five attributes that characterize the intelligent enterprise.
- Openness at every level
- The data-driven organization
- Automation and autonomy
- Conversational user interface
- The Platform is the foundation
In this blog, I will establish the connection between the intelligent enterprise and user experience, along with some recommendations on how to start your journey to the intelligent enterprise by simplifying your UX using SAP solutions.
The digital transformation imperative
By now, it is no longer visionary to undergo a digital transformation. In many industries, adding digital revenue streams is a requirement to remain competitive or even stay in business. A new customer experience is one of the key foundations of digital transformation. While the intelligent enterprise is still on the roadmap for many companies, starting sooner rather than later will ensure that they benefit from their early investments rather than risk being left behind by more aggressive rivals.
A digital-first mindset relies on getting employees excited about the journey and empowering them with tools to transform the business overall, starting with their specific area of expertise. For the enterprise software they use every to do their jobs, a good UX is critical.
A simple and intuitive UX for daily business processes allows people to focus on building new business models and new ways to create value, not mundane data entry, reporting, or analytics tasks. So, UX transformation is a great first step on the way to building an intelligent enterprise.
Let’s examine the UX connection to the each of the attributes from Bernd’s article.
Openness at every level
An important characteristic of an intelligent enterprise is openness. On the technical side, open standards, open APIs, and often open source, make collaboration easier as well as integrating heterogeneous components. Another, more subtle, dimension is having an open mindset.
To succeed with digital transformation requires being open to imagining and ultimately implementing new business models. This might involve disrupting or cannibalizing your own company’s products or solutions before an outside organization does. There are many books that discuss why disruptive innovation is hard. It can slowly destroy companies if done poorly. It can also destroy companies quickly, if markets evolve or the competitive landscape shifts dramatically and the company fails to innovate and release new solutions. No organization is immune to this, regardless of their size or market position. For example, both Kodak and Nokia had dominant share in their respective markets, before they ceased to be relevant.
A key to openness in user experience is to make end users a part of the design process, before any development starts. By empowering end users as a part of the design and specification process in a collaborative and iterative manner, the delivered user experience matches user’s expectations and needs, resulting in high adoption levels and minimal change requests after deployment.
A simple first step is to streamline any enterprise systems that get in the way of individual productivity. Simplifying the UX frees people’s time to think about digital transformation, innovation, and the path to the intelligent enterprise.
The data-driven organization
The explosion of data in the modern enterprise can be overwhelming for business users. It is important to be able to deliver a user experience that enables an end user to derive key insights without drowning in the ‘data flood’. Design tools which are integrated into data-rich environments and platforms (e.g. IoT) help customers to become data driven organizations.
A simpler UX drives software adoption. People are more likely to use software if they don’t feel intimidated by complex screens they don’t understand. If everyone in the organization enters the right data into the right fields at the right time, you have the information you need to run a data-driven organization. The information is available for analysis and decision-making, instead of being distributed in spreadsheets, documents, and post-it notes because people did not know how to enter it into the system of record.
The SAP Fiori user experience provides a personalized and role-based way to access all your SAP applications. Simple apps make it much more likely that employees will follow your business processes that use the information in these enterprise apps. SAP provides several ways to deliver the SAP Fiori user experience.
- Download an app from the Fiori app reference library.
- Develop a Fiori app using SAP’s extensive set of tools such as SAP Build, Web IDE, iOS SDK, SAP Fiori elements, and more.
- Simplify an existing SAP GUI screen or collection of screens using SAP Screen Personas.
Innovations such as SAP S/4HANA start with a standard SAP Fiori user experience and provide unprecedented access to run a data-driven enterprise. New analytical tools rely on simple, graphical user interfaces that allow people to manipulate data and make decisions in real time.
Automation and autonomy
When many people hear the term “intelligent enterprise” the first thing they think of is automation. In software, intelligence means performing actions automatically so a person does not need to take action, especially for routine tasks. Ongoing innovation in machine learning and artificial intelligence will take automation and autonomy to the next level by removing the need to program the system’s responses to different situations in advance.
SAP Screen Personas uses automation (scripting) extensively to simplify and streamline business processes. Customers can combine screens and tabs as well as automate repetitive keystrokes. They can automatically move information between screens and/or transactions. It is possible to automate complete business processes, blurring the lines between traditional transaction codes from the end-user standpoint, while keeping the robust transaction integrity for which SAP is known.
Conversational user interface
A fixture of science fiction for decades, conversational UI is another common attribute when people think of an intelligent enterprise. SAP CoPilot is one example of a digital assistant that allows you to interact with your enterprise system using natural language.
In several meetings, we have heard customers express interest in using voice to access the new screens they are creating to run on their mobile devices. For them, the traditional UX will transform to one without a screen in which you just say what you want and the system provide the information. Adoption seems to be a bit quicker on the consumer side than in the enterprise.
The Platform is the foundation
An intelligent enterprise requires a platform from which to build applications on a common data model. SAP Cloud Platform makes it easy to build and extend applications that connect to your SAP systems. We have many tools, such as SAP Build, SAP Web IDE, SAP iOS toolkit, to facilitate application development. The SAP Cloud Platform provides valuable tools integration services. Integration among development tools enables business analysts to deliver UX specifications to development teams as working starter code, thus accelerating the development process.
Getting started on your journey to the intelligent enterprise
If you want to continue (or start) down the path to building an intelligent enterprise, here are some things to start today.
- Think about how your relationship with your customers will look in 3-5 years. What physical products will need to become digital for your vision to become reality?
- Prototype some apps that will start (or accelerate) your digital transformation.
- Simplify the UX of your enterprise applications so your employees have more time to innovate.
Please share your tips for creating an intelligent enterprise in the comments.