Update on SAP User Experience at SIG Leads Event 2023
Special Interest Group leads from 8 countries got together in St. Rot, Germany on March 21-22 to get updates from SAP and enhance their collaboration with SAP and among each other as well.
In this blog, let me summarize what we learned about SAP user experience.
Already Sven Denecken emphasized the importance of UX in his SAP Strategy Update, but the below details come from our breakout session with Oliver Graeff, Tim Back and Florian Buech. They could talk about planned innovations too, which means, the usual disclaimers of SAP apply.
Fiori & UI Technology
- SAP launched Fiori 10 years ago and it has gone through a huge evolution starting from few apps to Fiori 2 and 3 and last year introducing the new Horizon Theme, which is already available e.g. in SAP S/4HANA and SuccessFactors and is planned for Concur. Of course, the overall goal is to provide consistency across the whole portfolio.
- Few highlights we discussed:
- “Share to MS Teams” is a nice productivity feature which allows users to share content from Fiori elements app as link in Teams. This link gives access to live and filtered data. Important to know that as of now, this is freely available, but only in S/4HANA Cloud public edition. The next planned innovation in this space is the availability to “Share as Tab”.
- In terms of Google Workspace Integration, SAP UI tables can be exported to Google Sheets and data can be imported from Google Sheets, but again, just like for MS Teams integration, this is currently only available for S/4HANA Cloud public edition.
- Faster data entry via keyboard by always showing few empty rows for quick data entry.
- When we touched SAP Conversational Experience Design, we learned that SAP is planning a strategic shift as SAP Conversation AI has been set to maintenance mode. SAP is planning a new Digital Assistant, which will be less of an open chatbot platform and more of an integrated solution. Needless to say, SAP is looking into open.ai too as presented at the DSAG event: https://twitter.com/wolf_gregor/status/1638490598427566080?s=20
- We heard that the usage of SAP UI5 is growing inside SAP, for example there are thousands of SAPUI5 apps in SAP S/4HANA and millions of unique users work with SAPUI5 in SuccessFactors.
- A big important milestone for Fiori development was the introduction of the Flexible Programing Model last year. Now developers don’t have to decide between free style and Fiori elements approaches, but they can start with one and move into the other one inside the same project. These two worlds are not isolated any more.
- As we know, UI5 offers flexibility for developers, key users and end users. In the area of key user adaptation, I really liked Change visualization & Version history.
- SAP has already ca. 70 web components which are created to bring the Fiori UX to non-UI5 apps, e.g. Fieldglass uses the ui5-datepicker, but SAP is bringing web components to UI5 too as the Technology Reuse Layer.
- The last good news we got in this area is that TypeScript is in experimental status and it’s coming 😉
SAP Build Apps and BAS
- It’s clear that BAS is positioned for the pro-code developers and Build is no-code. On the other hand, BAS has actually really good productivity tools to create apps faster. If you would like to learn more about it, there are two TechEd sessions with demos from Tim Back showcasing end-2-end scenarios with the new Productivity Toolkit of SAP Business Application Studio: incident scenario demo and capital expenditure application demo.
- Tim highlighted that Build Apps is really good for customer facing scenarios, because building custom styles is easy. It can translate css into its visual tooling really well.
- We learned that the home page of the BAS Productivity Toolkit is not available in VS Code at the moment, but SAP is working on a new embedding scenario.
- We touched on the comparison of Build Apps and MDK and as of now both have their different positions in the portfolio, because MDK uses the Mobile Services and can create off-line apps.
- When it comes to building back-end service for a mobile apps, the more no-code approach is in Build Apps via Visual Functions and the more pro-code approach is CAP.
- If you would like to build UI cards for Work Zone, you need to use BAS.
- We understood that the current components of Build Apps are mobile centric.
SAP Build Work Zone
- SAPs vision is “Increase user productivity by intelligently providing access to applications, processes, and information anywhere on any device”. This has basically not changed on high level for many years. Work Zone plays the role of the central access point. It’s not a replacement for local access points, it comes on top, e.g. it’s not replacing or impacting the positioning of Fiori Overview Pages.
- I am not going to explain Work Zone in this blog, only what I picked up as news (at least for me). On the other hand, if you would like to catch up, these are good starting points:
- SAP Start is not GA yet, it will be released in early 2nd half of the year. SAP Start is only for SAP cloud products.
- SAP Work Zone standard edition is only a name change from Launchpad. Horizon theme is already available across standard/advanced, but the “new site experience” covering support for pages, spaces, UI Cards, etc. is currently in beta and early Q3 is targeted for GA.
- The advanced edition can be seen as a blank canvas to design your portal. it’s not free style, but more restricted and easy to maintain. The blank canvas can be filled with pre-delivered content which is available e.g. for HR.
- The advanced edition has Work Spaces, which are micro communities. This advanced edition brings back features known from the good old Enterprise Portal times such as forum, document and content management. It’s not aiming to be a generic portal, rather focus on SAP scenarios. SAP doesn’t have dedicated partnerships (yet) in this space, but non-SAP systems can be integrated.
- The advanced edition will move away from its current app and use the SAP Mobile Start, but there is no expected date communicated by SAP yet.
- The SuccessFactors Work Zone (Work Zone for HR) is technically equal to the advanced edition, the difference is purely commercial. The SuccessFactors version is offered in a single subscription, so not e.g. consumption based. Obviously, customers can only purchase it if they have SuccessFactors.
- At the moment Work Zone advanced edition uses WorkFlow Management, but logically it will be replaced by Build Process Automation.
Finally I would like to say thanks to our SAP experts Oliver Graeff, Tim Back and Florian Buech and SAP and VNSG as a whole for organizing this event. Together with my VNSG UEX colleagues Henny Claessens, Wim Snoep and Colin Blair, we really enjoyed it.