Author: Christoph Garms
SAP’s digital transformation strategy is not on track
Working in the SAP market day in and day out, talking to partners and customers, the overall perception is ‘Cloud and Fiori is a nice to have’ but most teams are happy when their existing on premise SAP landscape is running smoothly. Yes, the transition to SAP S/4HANA has been started, but in most companies, it is still in sandbox mode and still years out until it’s a reality. But why are decision makers not crazy about the opportunities that arise by digitally transforming their company? The answer is, business and end users are not screaming for performance or digital because they are used to – and have almost just accepted – slow and bulky SAP systems.
I want to share three (3) key reasons why you should start transforming your SAP UI today to get your enterprise ready for SAP S/4HANA & SAP’s vision of simplicity, mobility, IoT, and consequently, AI down the road.
1. True Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation starts with your employees and customers learning to operate and interact with a new breed of applications. Design Thinking and User Experience are means to ultimately close the gap between your workforce and your soon-to-be digital enterprise. No matter if blue collar workers in the field or white collar managers in the office, mobile devices with smart applications will be their constant companion.
But true Digital Transformation is not about the big bang change – it is about incrementally creating new and lean applications that will help the users to fulfill their daily tasks and make their lives easier. You need to offer your users a launchpad with a handful of smart apps today and go from there. Surprise your end-users with a new tile in their launchpad each month and truly transform your SAP UI and business processes step by step.
However, the Digital Transformation is a long-lasting endeavor, consuming time and resources for years. While the path defined by SAP for SAP S/4HANA is clear, starting this journey on a small scale has proven difficult for many SAP customers. In fact, companies starting to consider SAP mobility as the typical first step into transforming their processes are stopped almost immediately by high infrastructural requirements to get Fiori up and running. In order to productively run a single standard SAP Fiori app, customers must fulfill a list of requirements: SAP upgrades, oData protocols, and SAP Gateway server setup are just the most commonly known.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel when looking into the direction of SAP S/4HANA. NetWeaver based low-code development platforms are on the rise to enable SAP teams to design UI5 based Fiori applications step by step on their existing SAP landscape. Those SAP S/4HANA certified tools are directly based on the ABAP stack and do not need SAP Gateway middleware and oData services. The idea is to start your Fiori journey today and optionally use the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) as well as oData to drive your SAP landscape towards the future.
2. Flexibility & Future Proof
If you look at today’s IT trends, open standards and robust APIs are prerequisites for your Digital Transformation. Companies must create stable interfaces to remain competitive. SAP promotes oData as the protocol of the future. At the same time, ABAP remains the core SAP language – Yes, SAP S/4HANA core is completely coded in ABAP!
Ideally your IT architect combines the best of both worlds. Leverage and re-use your company’s ABAP based processes today, especially all custom coding, and whenever fitting, plug-in the right oData service to connect to third party systems or the SAP Gateway. This approach makes sure that the existing SAP business know-how of your ABAP team remains your preferred interface while guaranteeing that your apps are fully compatible with the slowly emerging S/4HANA world. You will also experience that your IT department remains independent from external know-how instead of being tied to changing consultants and web development teams with little to no SAP experience.
This ‘best of both worlds’ approach will furthermore increase IT departments’ budget flexibility. Less external consultants and developers paired with less infrastructural changes, while speeding up process innovation and mobilization of your workforce. Not needing to make the big investment today but learn and transform for tomorrow, today – is what truly leads to flexibility and simplicity.
We have seen more than 300 customers over the last couple of years who have been successfully transforming their SAP UI on mobile and desktop without waiting for the big change to S/4HANA and SCP. Today, those companies have happy users who already love their UI, while now approaching the next steps in the overall transformation to the digital age.
3. Familiarize users with Fiori today
Digital Transformation essentially means the user moves to the center. It is a mistake to restrict SAP Fiori UX to future apps and products by ignoring today’s transactional Business Suite applications. Successful enterprises start redesigning their solutions now to improve user satisfaction and performance for the future. No matter if the transformation starts with desktop applications in the browser or specific mobile applications that leverage mobile device capabilities like GPS, camera, barcode scanner or offline, there is tons of transactional processes with huge potential for improvement. Your onsite technicians will be able to work offline, take pictures of damage and use GPS to find the right functional location (PM). Travelling salesman will be able to create sales orders with their tablets directly at customer sites (SD), Decision makers can approve purchase requisitions and leave requests while on a plane (WF) and all employees will be able to take care of their timesheets, travel expenses, leave requests, payslips and much more on whatever device they feel comfortable with (ESS/MSS). These are standard requirements which must be transformed today to boost your employees’ adoption to the digital enterprise of tomorrow.
And while you read this, your company is hiring a new generation of young and motivated workforce, who have been growing up using and consuming digital technology 24/7. These ‘digital natives’ must be armed with applications which enable them to use their full potential in the workplace. This is one of the reasons SAP is talking about ‘User Experience’ (UX) rather than just ‘User Interface’ (UI) when it comes to the next generation of SAP. It is a wild management misconception to argue new interfaces are ‘nice to have’. In the age of digital, companies must make sure that new technology, powerful devices and software is combined, to be prepared for the upcoming challenge of transforming and optimizing the value chain of your enterprise as a whole.
For other great articles and webinars on SAP Mobile Solutions, Fiori UX and Digital Transformation, browse our Resources Section.
- The Digital Transformation is happening now, not someday in the future.
- Decision makers need to find the right means to start this journey step by step, with a strong focus on picking up end users.
- Rethinking your UI on mobile and desktop by incorporating Fiori UX in your business applications is the perfect way to start your road to SAP S/4HANA.
- By familiarizing your end users to Fiori UX step by step, the overall digital transformation becomes a smart journey on mobile and desktop.
About the Author:
Christoph Garms is, as Pre-Sales Manager, part of the interface between development and sales at Neptune Software. His team accompanies partners and customers from the first encounter to implementation, onboarding and workshops to supporting development projects.
Want to know more about how Neptune Software approaches S/4HANA? Request a demo.