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Author's profile photo Shabeer Jameela

My reflections since RTC (Release to Customer) of SAP Mobile Start

Introduction

I am working as a “Consulting Lead” for supporting the early adopter customers of SAP Mobile Start. My team of experts are responsible for the blog posts mentioned in my previous blog post Introduction – How to set up SAP Mobile Start in a productive landscape. At the time of writing, it’s been slightly over 7 months since SAP Mobile Start became RTC (Release to Customer, in August 2021). We have been working with several partners and customer to guide them as they explore/implement SAP Launchpad service (which is a key pre-requisite) and SAP Mobile Start. I hope that it would be interesting to share some of our thoughts and experiences for the benefit of others who have just started or are about to start this journey.

1. Great things in life (and software adoption BTW) may take time

Let’s explain this with the example of SAP Mobile Start; it is certified to work with SAP S/4HANA and other SAP LoB solutions (see FAQ).

Many customers are on their own journey w.r.t moving to SAP S/4HANA and implementing SAP Fiori as the new UX. A side NOTE: do check out the openSAP course How to Deliver a Great User Experience with SAP S/4HANA we’d created on these baby-steps w.r.t having a well-constructed SAP S/4HANA+SAP Fiori set-up.

They may also implement other SAP LoB solutions and then start thinking about “new requirements”:

  • needing a central entry point for the end-users of these solutions
  • opening external access from outside of corporate network
  • additional access-channels (for e.g., mobile) etc

Customers, especially those who want to get ahead of their competitors and with a clear mobile strategy are getting their IT teams and implementation partners to investigate the “next logical step” and the traction is building.

Take away question for yourself: Should I look at SAP Launchpad service and SAP Mobile to bring my enterprise apps into one place?

2. Common use cases

Few key words that are self-explanatory on where the early adopter customers instantly saw the value and thereby took their first steps are the following:

  • My Inbox
  • Approvals
  • Workflows
  • Managers
  • Notifications

By deploying “My Inbox” SAP Fiori UI5 app on SAP Launchpad service and accessing it using SAP Mobile Start, managers can easily approve workflows. By Enabling notifications for SAP Mobile Start and SAP Launchpad Service they see the value of receiving enterprise notifications on their iPhone/iPad home screen the same way they are used to seeing private-life notifications (like Facebook or WhatsApp).

This is where most customers make a start. They then look at adding other mobile optimised apps for their end users.

Take away question for yourself: Does any of these keywords apply for my end-users?

3. SAP Fiori client users are among the first to switch to SAP Mobile Start

SAP Mobile Start is NOT a successor of SAP Fiori client, from a product positioning standpoint. SAP is moving away from the hybrid world with SAP Mobile Start which is a native app. Also, SAP Fiori client provides 2 technical use cases:

  • app launcher – where it simply launches an app
  • app container – which allows apps to access native features like barcode scanning etc

SAP Mobile Start supports the app launcher use case but NOT the container one. Apps launched via SAP Mobile Start needs to be self-reliant to access native features as outlined in Proof of Concept: Providing native barcode scanning on SAP Mobile Start (SAPUI5 & Quagga.js)

Even though SAP Mobile Start is NOT a successor; customer who are already using SAP Fiori client, are in the right place for starting to use SAP Mobile Start.

  • they have a mobile strategy, mobile use case, mobile users, and mobile enabled apps
  • with the sunsetting of SAP Fiori client and the need to shift away from hybrid world; they are looking at what’s next

Hence some of the early adopters of the solution are the ones who are using SAP Fiori client.

Take away questions for yourself: Do I have mobile strategy, mobile use case, mobile users, and mobile enabled apps? Should I look at SAP Mobile Start?

4. “iOS-first” was a good start on mobile; but Android also is needed (and is coming soon!)

I used to wonder if the relatively higher cost of iPhone/iPad would be an issue for adoption. It turned out that especially in Europe and North America, there are lot of customers who are on iPhone especially, and iPad and can make a start.

Of course, customers with major presence even in these regions have end-users in other regions where Android is prevalent. Good news is that an Android version is the number 1 priority for the product team; we should get to hear about Android version in Q2 this year.

Take away question for yourself: Do I have both iOS and Android users? Should I start looking into the topic since Android also is round the corner?

5. Implementing SAP Mobile Start is ALL about implementing SAP BTP and SAP Launchpad service

“Almost ALL” rather; I should say. I often tell customers that 99% of what they need to do to introduce SAP Mobile Start is to implement:

  • SAP BTP in their landscape – which means having the basic pre-requisites like global account/sub-account, integrating with their chosen Identity Provider for authentication etc.
  • SAP Launchpad service – integrating content from SAP LoB solutions into this “launchpad in the cloud”

The remaining 1% account for mobile app specific topics like:

Take away for yourself: If I implement SAP Launchpad service, I can very easily extend that to mobile.

6. RISE with SAP S/4HANA customers gets SAP Launchpad service for free

Also note that subscription for SAP Launchpad is included for free for RISE with SAP S/4HANA customers. Those customers as well as non-RISE customers who separately subscribe for SAP Launchpad service can use SAP Mobile Start, which can be downloaded for free from Apple app store (and Google Play once Android version is available).

Take away for yourself: I am a RISE with SAP S/4HANA customer, I should explore SAP Launchpad service and SAP Mobile Start that comes at no additional subscription cost.

7. Use of SAP Identity Authentication Service (IAS) is recommended

It’s possible to connect SAP BTP directly to customer’s chosen IDP; for e.g. Microsoft Azure. However, SAP’s recommendation is to have IAS in between as a proxy. i.e. SAP BTP connects to IAS which then connects to the IDP. Here’s some considerations that helps you to understand why.

  1. SAP Identity Services are an integral part of SAP’s reference architecture blueprints as described in Single Sign-on: SAP Reference Architecture for Identity Access Management.
  2. Customer may have a set up where users are stored on multiple corporate identity providers or systems. They can have IAS as the sole custom IDP connecting to their SAP BTP subaccount and IAS will be configured with multiple user sources as corporate IDP’s.
  3. IAS is a prerequisite for SAP Task Center service which collect Tasks from different SAP Solutions. (e.g. SAP S/4HANA on-prem & cloud, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Fieldglass) and shows them on a dedicated screen on SAP Mobile Start.

If you directly connect SAP BTP to your IDP and then realise that you need to use IAS later because of the above kind of considerations, you effectively must break/re-do the user management in SAP BTP as well as their role collection mappings.

Take away question for yourself: Does my (future) requirements mandates the use of IAS for an enduring solution?

8a. Be thorough with Cloud Connector set-up and Principal Propagation configuration activities

An extra comma or a space, not using the correct case, using special characters when one shouldn’t; do any of these and be ready to spend hours debugging!!! Only then to realise that an odd step or so in below blogs were not followed. Every single step mentioned in below 2 blog posts MUST BE FOLLOWED (in CAPS, bold and underlined) 😊.

8b. An even better idea: use CIAS for setting up SAP Launchpad service with SAP S/4HANA content

Especially if you are doing these steps for the first time, an even better idea (instead of manual steps in above blog posts) would be to use Cloud Integration Automation Service (CIAS) workflow that will guide you through the steps required to connect SAP Launchpad service to your SAP S/4HANA back-end. It is available for customers at no additional fee or license cost if they have an SAP Business Technology Platform Cloud Foundry subaccount in one of the CIAS supported data centres or have an SAP Integration Suite entitlement to subscribe to it, as couple of main pre-requisites. Please read this help page (link) for full details.

Take away for yourself: Use CIAS (link) if I am implementing integration of SAP Launchpad service with SAP S/4HANA for the first time.

9. Role collection mapping will get more easier in future

Currently the most efficient way of managing roles in SAP BTP is to map already existing user groups from IAS (or another IDP) to respective Role Collections in SAP BTP as described in Automate Role Collections in SAP BTP. This will prevent the need for manually managing users in SAP BTP or even the need to manage role assignments in multiple places. Once setup, group assignments or changes in your user store will be reflected in SAP BTP and SAP Launchpad service respectively.

However, some customers have a LOT of different groups & role collections to map. Doing this manually can be a time-consuming activity which should get easier with the planned (Q2 2022) road map item “Integration with SAP Cloud Identity Provisioning service to manage role assignments”.

Take away for yourself: Evaluate how the current capabilities can meet my requirements. Monitor the SAP roadmap on this topic to address my full set of requirements.

10. Do a readiness check

SAP Mobile Start needs SAP Launchpad service as the basic pre-requisite. That’s it !!! However, think about all the other “optional” pre-requisites that you may need to successfully implement SAP BTP as the chosen integration platform and integrating that with your enterprise set up to meet your potential requirements. For e.g.

  • SAP Cloud Identity Services – use of IAS (Identity Authentication Service), IPS (Identity Provisioning Service) and to integrate SAP BTP with your chosen Identity Provider like Microsoft Azure etc.
  • SAP Cloud Connectivity Services – for cloud connector to connect to SAP S/4HANA on-prem
  • SAP Task Centre service if you want to bring the tasks from various SAP LoB solutions into SAP Mobile Start; read SAP Task Center is now available in SAP Mobile Start

And since notification is a key value add, remember that SAP S/4HANA on-prem can only send cloud notifications to SAP BTP if the front-end server is embedded. Also, 1909 version or above is needed. Read more on Enabling notifications for SAP Mobile Start and SAP Launchpad Service

In summary, a certain degree of readiness is needed to introduce mobile into your enterprise landscape. Do a review of your readiness and come up with a (project) plan for execution.

Take away for yourself: I should conduct a readiness check for my landscape for implementing a central/native entry point for my end-users and come up with a plan for execution.

11. Early adopters are kings and queens

The good news is that those who take the first step towards implementing SAP Mobile Start gets the royal treatment and full attention. Check the community page given below which has all the relevant information provided by the product team and use it to interact and get the answers you need.

We look forward to hearing your experience with setting up the solution in your landscape; please do share your thoughts and comments below.

Stay up to date with latest news and post your questions or feedback about SAP Mobile Start in the Q&A area. Start by visiting your SAP Mobile Experience community page and click “follow”. We’ll be publishing more informative blog posts.

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      Author's profile photo Murali Shanmugham
      Murali Shanmugham

      Hi Shabeer,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic and summarizing the key aspects to consider when implementing SAP Mobile Start.