ASUG Tech Connect 2023 summary through UX lens
The first ever ASUG Tech Connect exceeded my expectations. There was an amazing amount of great content, mostly focused on innovation topics, along with many sessions by customers sharing their success stories and helping their peers find the right path forward with SAP. This post will chronicle my experience at the event, focused on user experience (UX) topics. In addition to my two sessions on SAP Fiori, there were customer and SAP lectures on UX, clean core, and application development, all of which are tightly connected.
Special shout out to the many SAP colleagues that came to New Orleans straight from TechEd Bangalore. Your passion for your topics and commitment to serve our customers is inspiring.
Note: I have included a link to the slides from the sessions, but you need to be an ASUG member to access them.
Keynotes – inspiring people to think big
The opening keynote featured SAP’s CTO Juergen Mueller and Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s EVP of Cloud and AI. They talked about innovations and showed some amazing AI demos that would save employees from mundane tasks such as looking up data and putting it into a presentation. ASUG CEO, Geoff Scott, did a great job moderating the session, asking probing questions to draw out key insights about the past, present, and future of AI from these industry giants.
The day-two keynote featured Bob Bucy of bioMerieux and Elaine Basa of Walgreens talking about the importance of community and why they volunteer with ASUG. They talked about building relationships and mentoring in a relational as opposed to transactional way – giving without the expectation of receiving anything back. Share your expertise and become the go-to person in your network.
The day-three keynote with Max Wessel and Matt Schwartz from AWS talking about learning, staying curious, and leadership with empathy. This was a live podcast with Goeff Scott moderating. They emphasized the need to bring together a diverse community of process experts, functional experts, and technical experts. And, of course, to keep up on new innovations so you can make a compelling business case about why move forward on cool new topics.
My sessions – describing how to improve user experience today
My roundtable session on SAP Fiori best practices filled all the available seats on the show floor with people spilling into the overflow areas around the space. The original plan was to have some customers share their successes with implementing SAP Fiori apps in their organizations. I ended up having to pivot since there were not enough customers with experience with SAP Fiori; most people were there to learn how to get started.
In the session, I kicked things off with an example of a customer who spoke up In a call I hosted last month, complaining that they saw minimal value of implementing a few SAP Fiori apps in their ECC system. We looked at the factors that contributed to that situation and how to avoid them. These tips from the session will help you obtain maximum value from implementing SAP Fiori.
- Focus on a single role at a time. SAP Fiori apps are role-based, so find a role with good SAP Fiori app coverage and deliver multiple apps for that role rather than spreading a few apps across the enterprise to give several groups a taste of SAP Fiori.
- Transform an end-to-end business process, so you can deliver a consistent SAP Fiori experience, rather than implanting a single app that forces someone to jump back and forth between SAP Fiori apps and classic apps, which can be jarring and disruptive.
- Include time and budget for user training. Even with a role-based and delightful SAP Fiori app, there is still some training required, especially for people with years (decades?) of experience with classic SAP GUI transactions. If you are moving to SAP S/4HANA, make SAP Fiori a priority; you won’t regret it.
It was a surprise to me that so few customers had made significant progress along their SAP Fiori journey. The disconnect could be because I spend most of my time talking to existing SAP Fiori elements or SAP Screen Personas customers with a strong interest in UX. For 2024, I hope to attend more conferences to meet with customers who are not familiar with our tools and give them the guidance they need to get started on the SAP Fiori journey.
Thanks to everyone that attended and participated so actively in the session.
After a brief lunch break, I had another session on “Delivering Smooth User Experiences with SAP Solutions.” There were a few familiar faces in the audience, which was nice. These were customers that I knew from the SAP Fiori elements roundtable or SAP Screen Personas practitioner forum.
Most of the audience were people new to me and also new to the topic of SAP Fiori. We covered the main tools and technologies that people need to know if they want to build SAP Fiori apps in their organization.
- Web components
- SAP Fiori elements
- Android SDK
- iOS SDK
- Mobile Development Kit
Special thanks to Tom Reiss for providing the recordings of the demos I showed during the session. Also for much of the content, which he used in his SAP TechEd session (free registration required to watch the video).
The main message for the audience and readers of this post is to get started on UX transformation now. Don’t do a “technical upgrade” to SAP S/4HANA first and plan to “fix” the UX later. If you want to realize the benefits of moving to SAP S/4HANA, I recommend you implement SAP Fiori at the same time. Your business stakeholders will thank you.
Customer sessions – sharing how to overcome challenges
Jon Portyrata from Goodyear participated in a discussion led by Peter Keller from SAP to share best practices and lessons learned when they adopted SAP S/4HANA and SAP BTP. Peter is the SAP S/4HANA Migration point of contact for ASUG.
Guy de Bruyn and Meghana Vyas of PG&E shared their journey of creating apps with SAP Fiori elements. They discussed how utilized their teams without partner and SAP support to use SAP Fiori elements to implement a modern, user-friendly interface to expand their system with two new financial processes:
- Collaboration between external suppliers and internal line-of-business users for financial accrual estimates.
- Decentralized review and release of invoices submitted by external suppliers.
Umesh Borikar of Coke of North America (CONA) discussed their move to SAP Integration Suite and all the infrastructure simplifications they achieved along the way. There was a deep discussion of architecture and how some key decisions enabled their path forward.
Steelcase, Rich Products, and an SAP consultant helping a public utility shared How, Why, and When to move to S/4HANA. In this roundtable format, they shared best practices from their experiences and fielded many questions from the audience, most of whom were still on ECC, at various stages of planning their respective journeys to SAP S/4HANA. Most people were looking at moving to private cloud, with a few expecting to keep their on-prem environments post migration.
Chevron’s Mickael Legaspi and Mia Hari shared highlights of their transformation from legacy systems to an environment that relies on SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP). They discussed their approaches to integration architecture, how they kept their core clean, and what’s next.
Jelena Perfiljeva from Mindset Consulting and Paul Modderman from Bowdark Consulting hosted a session on “The SAP Skillpocalypse: How To Not Become Extinct.” The focus was on how to keep learning new skills as markets change fast and old technologies become obsolete. They also covered the challenge of balancing current needs to maintain existing legacy systems while looking towards the future (AI!).
SAP Sessions – explaining new innovations
Tim Back and Jason Gabor unpacked the SAP Build Code announcement and showed how all the pieces fit together.
Stefan Batzdorf discussed everything about clean core: what it is, why do it, and how do I get there? This covered all the extensibility options for customers that want to customize their systems while maintaining a clean core.
Tim Back and Eric Solberg went in-depth on how SAP Build Code with AI enhances developer productivity.
Eric Solberg talked about the evolution of SAP Build Code and explained the roadmap. (no slides available)
The essence of ASUG – connecting with people
ASUG Tech Connect offered many opportunities to connect with customers, partners, and peers. The meals and networking breaks were a great chance to meet someone new. Several customers from the SAP Fiori roundtable and SAP Screen Personas practitioner forum arranged in advance to meet up. It was nice to finally match an online name to a real person. Here are highlights of some of the more interesting conversations I had.
- Carolyn Dolezal, COO of ASUG, and I talked about veteran recruiting into the SAP ecosystem. This aligns well with the work the Veterans @ SAP group is doing. We will be following up to see how we can team up to leverage the unique strengths that military veterans bring to the high-tech work force.
- I chatted with the technical lead of a Latin American food company about the logistics challenges of getting fresh produce to the right location at the peak of freshness.
- I spoke with the technology strategist of a global entertainment company about rapidly changing business models and the implications of local municipalities trying to gain their cut of taxes based on ads shown to people living in their area.
- It was great to reconnect with Cody Wedl, who is now president of Sovanta, an SAP partner that specializes in BTP, UX, and AI.
- ASUG scheduled several 1:1 expert sessions with customers who wanted to learn more about how to improve the user experience in their respective companies. SAP Fiori elements and My Home were the hottest topics in these sessions.
- I also had a chance to catch up with my fellow ASUG volunteers and the amazing ASUG staff who runs our chapter meetings and online community alliance calls.
- A few partners hosted happy hours and it was great to connect with the leaders of their SAP practices and discuss ways to jointly serve our mutual customers.
Learn more about the latest SAP Technologies:
- SAP Fiori elements openSAP course: Developing and Extending SAP Fiori Elements Apps | openSAP
- Latest SAP Fiori tools release: https://blogs.sap.com/2023/06/28/sap-fiori-tools-2306-update-includes-more-on-flexible-programming-model-building-blocks-typescript-for-cap-projects-and-open-source/
- The newest SAP My Home in SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition 2308: https://blogs.sap.com/2023/08/03/my-home-in-sap-s-4hana-cloud-2308-whats-new/
- Most recent release of SAP Screen Personas (Adapt UI for classic apps): https://blogs.sap.com/2023/06/30/sap-screen-personas-3.0-sp17-fulfills-customer-requests-on-scanning-editing-toolbars-supporting-new-sapui5-versions-and-simplifying-viewport-creation/
- Sign up for our SAP Fiori development newsletter to receive updates on SAPUI5, SAP Fiori elements, SAP Fiori tools, and SAP Business Application Studio.
Read this blog post for another perspective on Day 1 from Sergio Guerrero.
ASUG has plans to run Tech Connect again in 2024. I look forward to attending again!