23-05-2013

Most organisations desire very user-friendly applications. We often use the intuitiveness apps from the Apple Store or Google Play as our point of reference. To introduce precisely this to the big crowd SAP will present SAP Fiori at the SAP Sapphire in Orlando in 2013. SAP Fiori: the new standard for ease of use.

In deze blog deel ik mijn eerste bevindingen over SAP Fiori.


Finding 1: SAP Fiori provides no solution for diverse configurations of the SAP backend processes

The first release of SAP Fiori contains 25 apps that cover the most common business functions. These include workflow for approvals, information retrieval and self-service tasks in the field of HR, Sales and Purchasing. Such SAP business processes apps are not new and have been around for many years. We call these self-service applications and they have gained a variety of technologies over the years.

Over the years we learned that the diversity of the configuration in the SAP backend processes is huge. The deviation from the standard configuration means that new SAP products cannot be used. Organizations often spend much time setting up the SAP mobile platform, only to find out that default apps do not work on it, for example. In almost all cases these are designed for standard processes and often very limited in their configuration.

SAP Fiori does not change this. The maximum benefits from your user interface technology will only be experienced if your backend process is as standard as possible in its implementation.

Finding 2: Finally web responsive design

We thank you SAP, as our the prayers have finally been answered. After the first demos at TechEd 2012, the web responsive designs are now available for productive use. Based on one scenario, this enables organizations to operate both the desktop and the mobile device. Responsive web design means that the application adapts to the resolution of the device. (For more information concerning this read my colleague Tin’s blog post about web responsive design.)

That’s the theory, however, as so often is the case, the proof is in the pudding.

The SAP Fiori demo videosshow relatively complex scenarios such as “My Timesheet”. I would love to test these on my iPhone to see how smoothly they really work. Both in portrait and landscape mode.

Observation 3: SAP Fiori has a simple system architecture

The architecture is simple and based on three components (release dependencies can be viewed on SAP Fiori Installation Instructions):

  1. SAP backend systems, such as ECC and SRM, for the business logic
  2. SAP NetWeaver Gateway to provide OData-based interfaces
  3. SAP NetWeaver UI5 Add-on for the HTML5-based UI

No other (mobile) component is necessary. Authentication and authorization are organised through traditional tools such as the profile generator (PFCG). Additionally, SAP also provides standard roles. All SAP Fiori apps are provided via a home screen on which a user/role determines which apps are available to the individual.

Depending on the release of your SAP backend system, all components may be able to be placed on one system environment. In many cases, however, organizations will need to create a separate SAP NetWeaver Gateway environment.

Finding 4: SAP Fiori doesn’t need the SAP Mobile Platform

SAP uses Fiori to provide (online web based) applications directly from the SAP backend system. A separate mobile platform is not necessary.

Tweets sent out by product management indicated that there are plans to make Fiori apps available through the new SAP Mobile Platform, Enterprise Edition, Cloud version platform. This is a logical step because it enables organizations to combine (and manage) the Fiori apps and other self-built applications based on the SAP HANA Cloud.

Observation 5: SAP Fiori – fully – functionally overlaps with existing solutions.

Let’s start with the good news. There is no overlap with regard to the user experience. The Fiori apps look sleek and user-friendly. SAP has stepped up its game.

If, however, you take a look at the SAP Fiori Installation Manual, you will see that all the scenarios mentioned use the functional components that already exist to aid the apps in the SAP Store.

Let’s consider a leave application scenario. Both the native iPhone app, available in the SAP Store, and the new (Web Responsive) SAP Fiori app use the same backend component. From a functional perspective there is no difference. You could say that SAP Fiori is nothing more than just another UI technology that provides access to the exact same business logic.

It is logical that all existing self-service applications will be replaced by Fiori HTML5-based apps in the future. All current mobile native apps will follow shortly after.

Observation 6: Flexibility towards other UI technologies

SAP Fiori scenarios exchange their data with SAP backend using NetWeaver Gateway models. The Odata protocol is used for this. This is an open standard protocol that is widely accepted. (For more information take a look at William’s blog postconcerning OData). Fiori comes with HTML5 screens based on the SAPUI framework. You can relatively easily reuse the OData Gateway interfaces if your organization would rather use a different UI Framework. If, for example, you wish to make your user interface in Microsoft SharePoint the models can be used to attain this. Other UI frameworks can be attained using a similar manner.

Finding 7: Everything comes at a price

The use of Fiori apps sets every individual user back €100. This charge comes on top of the required gateway and named user license. I would like to see SAP simplify its pricing.

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Update! As of SAPPHIRENOW 2014 (which launched in May) SAP Fiori and SAP Screen Personas are now covered by the standard SAP maintenance license. This means that SAP Fiori and SAP Screen Personas is free for all SAP users! Read more about this here.
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