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Seamless user experience explained: highlights from the SAP Community call

A seamless user experience is one of the key qualities customers and their users expect from an intelligent suite, enabling the intelligent enterprise. The SAP Community call held on March 18th, 2021, gave an overview of what a seamless user experience means and where SAP currently stands on the journey to delivering such a seamless user experience.

You can watch the recording (~25 minutes presentation plus ~20 minutes of Q&A), look at the presentation or read on for a summary of the main messages.

Introduction

One of SAP’s strengths has always been integration of applications and processes – giving full transparency into logistics processes, integrating sales and procurement with manufacturing and delivery, payroll in HR to banks paying out peoples’ salaries. To achieve this in the cloud, we identified the key qualities customers and their users expect from an intelligent suite, enabling the intelligent enterprise. Seamless user experience is one of these.

As you can see from the above definition of “seamless”, if the solution consists of many parts, people can move from one part to the other without interruption or difficulties, and without noticing a change.

Consistency is the foundation

“Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles: when things behave the same, users don’t have to worry about what will happen”
[Jacob Nielsen]

Consistency is the foundation of a seamless user experience – without it, you can’t have a seamless experience. That is why we decided that consistency is the first thing we need to address for a seamless user experience for the four prioritized end-to-end business processes. We made this a top priority for 2020 and have already made significant progress.

We looked at what is most important for users to feel that various UIs are consistent, and identified a core set of user experience aspects which need to be provided to achieve this.

Visual appearance is an essential part of consistency, so that all the UIs have a similar “look”. The core visual aspects for these are colors, iconography and typography, in other words the visual theme, as well as having a common shell bar at the top of the screen. The Quartz theme as defined by Fiori 3 is our agreed theme to achieve a consistent look. Further aspects, like the settings menu, action placement and terminology of actions, for example whether to label a button “Change” or “Edit”, contribute to the products feeling similar to one another.

Providing these core aspects consistently across our products already contributes to a faster learning curve for users, increasing their efficiency and overall satisfaction.

The community call presentation shows a number of examples of what the user experience used to look like, before we started this initiative, and what the user experience now looks like, in various SAP products. The following figure shows some examples of the end result across some selected SAP products.

We not only provide consistency for web browser based interaction: we introduced additional native mobile design languages to the Fiori design system a few years ago: following the Fiori design principles as well as the respective Apple and Android design guidelines, in other words Apples‘ Human Interface Guidelines and Google‘s Material Design.

Complementing the design languages for iOS and for Android, we also provide powerful SDKs with standardized patterns and controls for business use cases, as well as the SAP Mobile Development Kit which allows you to code once to produce native apps for both platforms.

This way, we not only significantly reduce the time to design apps, we also significantly reduce the time to develop apps – and at the same time ensure that these native mobile apps provide a consistent Fiori user experience.

What else does seamless UX require?

Consistency is the foundation – but users want to feel as if they are using a single solution. This means that they also want an integrated user experience. One which gives them one place to access all their applications, with smooth navigation between apps and products, providing common functions like search, inbox, settings wherever they are.

Our larger customers often have multi-system landscapes, with various back-end systems from SAP as well as legacy home-grown solutions and 3rd-party products running on-premise.

Business users often need to access one or more of these systems for their daily work, as well as accessing other systems for activities as employees or as managers, for example applying for leave requests or approving them, buying office equipment or approving such requests.

As a result, these customers have requested with high priority a central entry point for their users to access their system – providing more than simply a portal page with links to individual applications.

We delivered first steps to provide this over the last six months with the SAP Launchpad service on SAP Business Technology Platform. With this, you can give your users access to one launchpad in the Cloud, which you can set up to give them access to their apps in SAP S/4HANA systems, as well as selected Business Suite and SuccessFactors applications and 3rd-party applications.

Since S/4HANA supports hundreds of business roles, each using many different applications, we simplify the set-up of the central entry point by providing content federation: with one click you can expose the Fiori launchpad spaces and pages content for a business role from the S/4HANA system to the SAP Launchpad service. From then on, users no longer need to access the local S/4HANA launchpad: they can access their apps seamlessly via the Launchpad service in the cloud.

Content federation is also available for SAP Fiori apps built on the Business Technology Platform using Cloud Foundry, as well as for the SAP Enterprise Portal.

This is the start to provide an integrated user experience, but we have a far more ambitious vision:

Key take aways

  1. Seamless means people feel as if they are using a single solution.
    In the context of the intelligent suite, it means that people feel as if they are using a single solution
  2. Consistency is the foundation: provided by the intelligent suite, starting in 2020
    Consistency is the foundation for a seamless user experience. For that, we have defined core user experience aspects to get a consistent visual appearance across our products, which we started delivering in 2020 and will largely complete this year.
  1. Seamless UX also needs integration: SAP Launchpad service started in 2020
    A seamless user experience also needs integration. For integration we started delivering first steps last year with the introduction of the SAP Launchpad service.
  1. A seamless user experience is our vision for the intelligent suite

Learn more

You can find out more about SAP user experience using these links:

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