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Author's profile photo Victoria Thomas

SAP TechEd 2020: A User Experience Education

SAP TechEd 2020 might not have been held in a bustling venue hall in Austin, Texas, as was originally planned, but the virtual format, which ensured that SAP’s largest educational event could still take place, brought with it unique opportunities for a new user experience and a significantly increased reach.

Undeterred by the new format, more than 82,400 people registered for the event, ranging from long-term users of SAP software to curious newcomers, who took to their screens to view sessions and participate in hands-on workshops.

Impressions from the UX sessions: SAP Fiori launchpad, SAP Fiori road map, and more

So, which of the 30 sessions in the SAP User Experience TechEd agenda seemed to draw the largest crowds? The “SAP Fiori Launchpad: What’s Hot and What’s New”, presented by Sibylle Brehm was one of the sessions with the greatest number of registrations, meaning that thousands of attendees had added the session to their personal agenda on the SAP TechEd 2020 website. The SAP Fiori launchpad provides a role-based, responsive, central entry point for the partner or customer’s business apps.

The role of the launchpad was further elaborated upon and included in the overall vision for SAP Fiori in the session “Road Map: SAP Fiori”, presented by Thomas Reiss. Here, attendees wanted to know about the replacement for the SAP Fiori client (i.e. mobile use cases). Furthermore, there was interest in which releases the launchpad’s spaces and pages are available (i.e. which SAP S/4HANA releases, on-premise, cloud etc.) and the flexibility of the spaces and pages.

Building upon the huge interest shown in recent years, the SAPUI5 sessions “SAPUI5 – All You Need to Know” and “Road Map: SAPUI5” were also among the top attended sessions. These sessions provided updates on latest developments and planned features – underlining its importance as the technical foundation for SAP Fiori.

Another very popular session was the lecture on SAP Screen Personas, “Accelerate Adoption of SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA with SAP Screen Personas”, presented by Sylvia Barnard and Peter Spielvogel. They discussed how SAP Screen Personas brings the SAP Fiori experience to SAP GUI screens and simplifies complex transactions to make users more efficient. A lively Q&A covered topics such as integration, mobile usage, and core functionality.

Peter Spielvogel presenting the session “Accelerate Adoption of SAP Fiori for SAP S/4HANA with SAP Screen Personas [IIS130]”

Customer feedback from Yorkshire Water and Boston University

We also had the opportunity to hear from some of our customers: Mark Castle, the SAP Technical Lead at the British water supply company Yorkshire Water, explained his company’s choice to develop apps using SAP Fiori elements. He emphasized its ability to build great-looking and intuitive visualizations that run with minimal clicks. None of his team had experience with SAP Fiori, but during the 18-month product lifecycle, two members of his team managed to deliver 45 HR analytical apps. SAP Fiori elements enabled Yorkshire Water to provision apps with low code, minimal development time, and a consistent look and feel. The attendees viewing the session asked about how Mark’s team learned to use SAP Fiori elements and whether they needed outside help – the answer being that you don’t need experienced web developers, it can be picked up very quickly (watch the recording of the session here).

In a panel discussion focusing on customers who have successfully used SAP’s human-centered approach to innovation, David Boloz, the Assistant Director of Technology at Boston University (BU), explained why BU chose SAP to help them transform their IT and business culture to focus on user experience. He and his team worked with experts from the SAP Apphaus in Palo Alto to learn how to best identify user-driven needs in the design thinking process, and go on to reimagine their employee benefits enrollment system (you can read more about this in a deep dive blog coming soon). If attendees wanted to know more about design-led development, further information was provided in the session “Design-Led Development at SAP: How to Meet the Needs of Your Users” presented by Dina Glatzel.

The UX-related strategy talk, “Create a Future-Proof User Experience for Your Intelligent Enterprise”, presented by Head of SAP User Experience Alex Lingg and Head of SAP Cloud Platform UI Technology Frederic Berg, covered SAP’s user experience strategy based on the SAP Fiori design system and put it in context to SAP’s technology landscape, especially around SAP S/4HANA. There was some curiosity from the attendees around SAP GUI and whether this would remain in use, given the stated goal of creating a consistent UX at SAP. The answer was a clear yes, as steps are being made to align SAP GUI screens with the new SAP Fiori screens.

Frederic Berg and Alex Lingg delivering the UX-related strategy talk “Create a Future-Proof User Experience for Your Intelligent Enterprise [ST110]”

Where to find UX content

From the start of the event on December 8, participants could view hundreds of on-demand sessions at their leisure. Topics were organized into “tracks,” which could be accessed in the corresponding playlists on the SAP TechEd 2020 YouTube channel and official SAP TechEd 2020 website. All keynotes, strategy, and customer and partner talks were broadcast live on “Channel 1” (now available as recordings). The user experience sessions were split between the “Application Development & Integration (DEV)” and the “Integrated Intelligent Suite (IIS)” tracks, with one session in “Digital Transformation with Intelligent ERP (DT)”. Other tracks have tagged additional sessions as relevant for “user experience” (see session catalog). Those curious about user experience could engage with our speakers in the live sessions via a Q&A chat.

What the audience wanted to know

As seen at previous SAP TechEd events, questions varied from general strategic questions regarding SAP products and how they fit together to very concrete technical questions. Our UX speakers noticed many questions came from those just starting out in their SAP Fiori journey and desiring to learn more about the SAP Fiori design system and SAPUI5.

More experienced attendees were looking for very specific information and guidance about which technology or tool to use in their unique situation.

There are many other SAP TechEd 2020 UX sessions full of educational gems that did not get mentioned here (you can get a full overview of the program here). In fact, more than 42, 000 attendees added UX sessions to their personal agendas. The feedback regarding SAP TechEd’s virtual format this year was very positive overall: Channel 1 in particular received overwhelmingly positive comments from the attendee community. However, the best part is that SAP TechEd 2020 is not even over: You can explore all the content on-demand here.

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