SAP Japan Low-Code No-Code Hackathon for Partners Interview Blog Vol.2 ～Finalists Roundtable Discussion, Freestyle Division～
This blog is Vol.2 of the “Low-Code No-Code Hackathon” interview. The “Low-code No-code Hackathon for SAP Japan Partners” is a hackathon event for SAP partners (teams or individuals) to compete in the ability to solve problems and drive innovation by leveraging the features of SAP AppGyver (hereafter AppGyver) and SAP Business Technology Platform (hereafter BTP), which is an essential and hot technology area that will drive business innovation in companies in the future. Between June 13 and June 17, 2022, nearly 200 people participated in either the ‘SAP Solution Extension Division’ or the ‘Freestyle Division’ of the hackathon. Six finalists were selected to advance from among the 67 teams fielded by 40 companies.
We were pleased to have representatives from Accenture, JSOL Corporation, and IBM Japan, Ltd., finalists in the Freestyle division, come and have a talk.
Round-table discussion participants
Ms. Yamamoto, Mr. Nanasaki, and Mr. Han, who belong to Accenture Technology (from left to right).
They have experience in consulting for 0, 5 and 3 years, respectively, and their BTP backgrounds vary from 1, 3, and 0 years.
IBM Japan, Ltd.
(From left to right) Ms. Arakawa, Mr. Ito, and Ms. Baba all work in the same IBM Consulting Department providing SAP implementation support and are in charge of different modules. Each has 3 years of consulting experience, and their BTP background is only what they learned during the hackathon.
What motivated you to participate in this hackathon?
Mr. Ito: We have an internal system which encourages us to participate in an external event once a year. The three members of our team had been creating knowledge and deploying it within the company since our training days, so we decided to try something new with this hackathon.
Mr. Mizumoto: It started with the words from the head of the business division, “I want you to participate with the intent to win”. At first, I was surprised at the high goal, but since the participating members are positive about this kind of hackathon in addition to their usual work, we started with the understanding that we would try our best.
Mr. Nanasaki: I found out about the event via email. Seven of us applied when there was an internal call for applications, so we were divided into two teams: the Freestyle Division and the SAP Solution Extension Division. I personally wanted to participate because I was interested in AppGyver when it was introduced in TechED. I had been working with it privately and was eager to gain more experience in what it could do.
What was the reaction within your company when you passed the first round of selection and were selected as finalists?
Mr. Ito: We received congratulations from people within the company and also inquiries about the apps we created. The response was so positive that we created a Knowledge document outlining AppGyver and how to develop apps, and deployed it within the company. It was viewed by many people.
Mr. Nanasaki: In preparing the final presentation materials, we communicated not only within the team but also with people from various departments within the company, which gave us opportunities to talk with people with whom we would not normally have contact. Many people were happy to support us at that time and gave us opportunities to report our work at regular MTGs.
Mr. Mizumoto: First of all we were relieved. We had high expectations for our company, but we also had a good feeling about our application when it was completed. We were glad that it did not turn out to be a mirage.
Each company explained the application they had developed, provided feedback and questions to each other, and discussed their solutions.
Accenture / FuruSAPo
An application that connects rural and urban areas and “collects” them together for local development. Local governments can find their members who are currently residing in the Tokyo metropolitan area
Mr. Mizumoto: What surprised me was that the screen design looked like a commercial application, and the quality was as if a professional designer had been brought in. Who was in charge of designing?
Ms. Yamamoto: I was in charge of designing. I didn’t have much time, so I tried to do it by referring to various apps such as game collection apps and travel activity apps, and it worked out well.
Mr. Ito: The scenario makes sense, and I wanted to try it out. I thought it would be interesting to be able to participate in the community easily through this kind of application. I would love to see it happen.
JSOL / FoodNow
An application to manage food in the refrigerator for all consumers who have problems organizing and managing food storage.
Ms. Baba: I thought the point of view was wonderful. When we share the shopping results with our family members, we often have to check what is in the refrigerator. We are not always able to get in touch with other family members immediately, so I thought the ability to check the items on the list would be a great functionality. I would love to install this when it becomes available.
Mr. Ito: There are refrigerators that allow you to view the contents of the refrigerator with a camera, but is it possible to combine that data?
Mr. Mizumoto: Refrigerators are overflowing with food, and sometimes old items are pushed to the back and expire, but I think it is difficult to keep track of food in such a state with a camera. It is necessary to manage quantitatively what is in the fridge and when it expires, so we have developed this application.
Mr. Han: I thought the scenario was perfect and had all the features it needed. There are things like the UNIQLO cash register that can identify products just by viewing them, so if we could make that happen, it would be unbeatable.
Mr. Mizumoto: It is true that the image recognition used in this project does not always produce the results intended by the user. If RFID tags were attached to food products like those used by UNIQLO, they would be recognized simply by placing them in the refrigerator.
IBM Japan, Ltd. / Kantan! Shiirekun
An application for buyers and approvers of purchasing departments of small and medium-sized general merchandise stores, enabling them to buy products (buyer) and approve purchases when buying Scandinavian goods.
Mr. Nanasaki: When I first saw it, my first impression was that it was quite cute, even though it was supposed to be a screen for creating slips. I thought it was an application created by a person in charge of business operations, because it seemed that the functionality was exactly what the citizen developers had noticed and created themselves. How did you come up with the idea of points to improve?
Mr. Ito: For example, when we first came up with the necessary items, I wanted to put everything on the screen, but Ms. Arakawa improved it so that as many parts as possible could be filled in automatically using AppGyver’s logic. Ms. Baba was the one who added pictures and buttons to make it intuitive to use.
Mr. Handa: I think it was quite complicated if different screens are visible depending on the authorization. Could you tell me what was hard when creating?
Mr. Ito: When the three of us were discussing this, we talked about adding a sign-up function, and we organized the permissions in such a way that the transition screen would change depending on the e-mail address used to log in.
Ms. Arakawa: At first, we were dividing the screen into “Buyer here” and “Approver here” on a single screen, but we thought that would have been too complicated, so we simplified the logic by dividing the screen by e-mail address.
Please tell us some pros and cons of AppGyver?
Mr. Nanasaki: I thought the easy drag-and-drop development was great to use. I had not had many opportunities to use LC/NC before, but I was impressed after I touched the essence of it.
Mr. Mizumoto: I felt AppGyver’s biggest strength was the ability to create and run the application right away. It has a separate preview app, so we can try it out right away on our smartphones, which helped us a lot. On the other hand, one point that was not good was that we could not do team development, partly because our team consisted of eight members. We were all using one person’s account, and we had many updates that conflicted with each other. However, the team development feature is scheduled to be released in the near future, so I think that will be resolved.
Ms. Arakawa: It is true that our team was also bumping into each other. However, since there were only three of us, we managed to do it by clearly communicating with each other, “I am going to edit it now,” or “I am going to edit it until what time, so I am going to open it up.
Mr. Kogure: One bad point is that external integration is weak. For example, when we wanted to connect to a public API, we had a hard time because we could not call it properly. In our work this time, we could not properly authenticate when uploading images, and we avoided this problem by creating an application on BTP. If there is a mechanism for easy integration, I think it will be more convenient and allow even citizen developers to create enterprise applications on their own.
If this tool is to be used for a project, do you think it would be for citizen developers or professional developers?
Mr. Nanasaki: Of course, I think it can be used for citizen developers, but I also thought it could be used easily for professional developers. For example, to create an application for demonstration in a very short period of time during proposal activities, and then modify it on the spot for the client to check.
Mr. Mizumoto: I feel that AppGyver can be used more by citizen developers. For example, I think that the internal work that many companies are doing with macros will be replaced by AppGyver, and AppGyver will be able to connect to their various systems.
Ms. Arakawa: Even though none of our team had much experience with IT, we were able to use the system right away and see what it could and could not do. I think that with a little trial and error, citizen developers and even regular workers who are somewhat familiar with IT would be able to use this tool. Nowadays, there are conflicts in communication between those in the IT department and those in the business department, and I think it is a big advantage that LC/NC eliminates the barriers between the two.
As for the future of AppGyver, how do you think the LC/NC tool can be utilized in future implementation projects?
Ms. Baba: In terms of being involved in the implementation of SAP, if the users are factories, they are working on the move or have tight time constraints, so I think this kind of application would allow them to easily check inventory and purchase information. However, if the app does not work properly, it will cause havoc, so I think it would be a good idea to deploy it after we have more knowledge about AppGyver.
Mr. Kogure: In my general opinion, I think that the future potential of AppGyver is as a prototyping tool when creating new products. For SAP projects, I think the combination of AppGyver and BTP will allow us to propose SAP solutions alone, whereas before we were forced to use other companies’ solutions to achieve this. I think that this will make the project more SAP-centric.
Since this was a freestyle category, it was easy to imagine the actual use of the solutions developed by each company, and there was a lively discussion, with each company expressing its own unique color, such as “I actually want this” and “Adding this function could be better.”
We were able to get feedback that AppGyver will be a positive tool for both citizen developers and professional developers, and this interview has increased our expectations for AppGyver’s future.