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Author's profile photo Alexander Lingg

Top 3 Things I Learned at SAP TechEd 2019

SAP TechEd is now behind us and I am left with so many great impressions that I would like to share with you. I had a chance to personally catch up with customers, partners, and SAP Mentors, and I was able to learn a lot about our community and get their perception on our current direction.

I was happy to see that SAP user experience had a strong presence this year. Our sessions were well attended and our booths packed with visitors. The tone was immediately set for the SAP user experience track with Juergen Mueller’s keynote. Not only did Juergen announce the latest updates to the SAP Fiori design system (consistent theming, font, iconography, colors, system behaviors, and more), but he clearly confirmed our future direction: SAP Fiori 3 is on its way to becoming the design system for the entire product portfolio at SAP.

I could go on about this year’s highlights – our design system, our tools, and latest innovations – but instead, I’d like to share what I took away from my conversations with many of you out on the show floor.

  1. Our customers and partners are excited to take this journey with us

I was pleased to see that both my strategy talk together with Frederic Berg (VP of SAP Cloud Platform UI Core Services) and SAP Fiori product manager Thomas Reiss’ SAP Fiori road map session were packed. I could tell that our customers and partners are excited about the changes we’ve introduced, and appreciate the value of having a consistent, intelligent and integrated design system. Most of all they are happy to see that these are not just ideas, but that SAP Fiori 3 is already materializing, for example with the introduction of the new Quartz theme and the new shell header bar for SAP S/4HANA Cloud and on premise. Underlying the positive feedback is an understanding of the importance of a good user experience and its role in the digital transformation.

  1. A good user experience cannot just be switched on; it is a transformation

Improving the user experience does not need to happen in a specific system or moment in time; it’s not a switch that customers turn on, but rather a series of decisions and actions they can take. The transformation can be gradual and can really start at any point in our customers’ journey.

It’s clear that amongst our customers and partners already running SAP S/4HANA, the interest in directly implementing the latest SAP Fiori design system to elevate the user experience is quite high, but we know that the journey to implementation is not always easy or straightforward. This is why we were happy to announce SAP Fiori rapid content activation, an out-of-the-box approach to activate SAP Fiori for business roles delivered as templates with SAP S/4HANA.

But if you haven’t yet made the move to SAP S/4HANA, there are steps you can take to begin adopting the SAP Fiori user experience. SAP Screen Personas, for example, allows you to quickly deliver the SAP Fiori user experience by giving classic screens a consistent and visually harmonized look. Similarly, using SAP Fiori elements is another great way to quickly ramp up the SAP Fiori user experience with minimal coding for both SAP S/4HANA and ERP customers.

I enjoyed seeing the session from Boston University because they really embodied this sense of gradual transformation. They showed how successfully they were scaling and accelerating development using a mix of tools: SAP Fiori elements, SAP BUILD tools and SAP Web IDE, so they could deliver a great user experience for their students and staff.

If you couldn’t make this year’s SAP TechEd but want to learn more, you can find a recording of Peter Spielvogel’s session on how to quickly and easily build SAP Fiori apps using SAP Fiori elements and SAP Screen Personas here.

  1. A UX transformation can only be achieved if IT managers take the lead

The road map is clearly set for SAP Fiori 3, but my many conversations with customers and partners really strengthened my belief that UX transformation will go nowhere if IT managers don’t understand the power that they have to lead way. We already know the benefits of a good user experience: it reduces development and maintenance costs, cuts down on the need for trainings, increases the ease of use, reduces user errors, and more. But we also know that it’s not always easy to make the business case for investing in this area. This is where IT managers have the chance to become user experience advocates and ensure that their organizations really understand the need to follow through with this transformation. A successful user experience needs to be planned in from the start, not be added as an afterthought.

Earlier this year we saw a great example with the telecommunications company Swisscom, where a solution architect saw the potential for an impactful UX transformation for the business-to-employee experience and led the implementation of the SAP Fiori design system, saving the company valuable time for internal employee transactions. This is a theme that also came up at this year’s event quite often. If IT managers are able to convey the value of UX to their organizations, success stories will automatically follow. The final piece of the puzzle is of course to ensure that no matter what solution is built, developers always work closely together with end users to achieve this.

That’s a wrap!

So there you have it: My three key takeaways from this year’s SAP Tech Ed. This year would not have been a success without my dedicated team, our engaged customers and partners, and our experienced SAP Mentors. I was really impressed to see what a strong community we have rallying around the SAP user experience! I am thankful to all of you for your engagement and look forward to seeing you there again next year.


This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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