SAP Fiori gets its name from the Italian word for flower. We know that flowers are nice to look at, are shaped with nature’s intelligent design, and are delightful to behold. That’s somewhere close to why SAP called its user experience (UX) layer SAP Fiori, and that’s also why users see a flower when they fire up this software-based layer for applications.

Always described as a UX innovation, SAP Fiori provides a way to create a set of applications devoted to serving common business functions including work approvals, financials, more complex calculation apps, and a variety of self-service tools.

But it’s not really a “set of applications” in and of itself. SAP Fiori is actually a design language that allows us to create applications based on exact (or close to exact) user roles, user preferences, and business processes. It is meant to be a lightweight and speedy way to build transactional apps, fact sheets, and analytical apps within the realms of a modern (i.e., not clunky or monolithic) ERP system. The company describes SAP Fiori as a “set of components and patterns” that can be reused in different combinations and that include descriptions and guidance regarding usage, visual design, copy, tone of voice, and integration.

Planting SAP Fiori’s Seeds

SAP Fiori originated because SAP knew that customers would typically use an SAP user interface (UI) to get access to applications. With more than 300,000 screens potentially accessible in the graphical user interface (GUI) that this configuration presented, SAP decided that it would try to simplify interactions around a core set of five design principles, which include:

  1. Role-based: applications should be interactive and role-based so that users only see the information they need to be able to carry out their jobs effectively.
  2. Responsive: By combining SAP Fiori with SAP HANA, SAP aims to engineer for highly responsive applications and query executions.
  3. 1-1-3 Simplicity: SAP uses the 1-1-3 design principle that denotes one user, one use case, and that one user and use case should be able to be served with all the application functionality they need in no more than three screens.
  4. Seamlessness: All SAP Fiori apps are based upon the same architecture and created through the same tier of the same design language.
  5. Flowery delightfulness: SAP Fiori apps, like flowers, are designed to bring delight to the user.

Smells Like a New User Experience

SAP recently announced the newest release of SAP Fiori, SAP Fiori 3. But what makes it new? How does it improve user experience? What are some of the common concerns of integrating it and using it, and how is SAP addressing those concerns? How does SAP Fiori work with SAP S/4HANA?

SAP has emphasized its focus with SAP Fiori 3 is to deliver end-to-end support for business processes. It’s an overused term that the tech industry likes to apply to every product. But in the world of ERP database applications, end-to-end does mean something if we look at how the ERP system handles the process from design to deployed operations (often just called design-to-operate) and other workforce management functions such as source-to-pay and lead-to-cash.

Thinking back to SAP Fiori’s insistence on 1-1-3 design, if a [sales] lead-to-cash process plugs into SAP Concur for travel and expense management, SAP SuccessFactors for human resources functions, SAP Fieldglass for vendor management, and SAP HANA for analytics, then that’s already four user interface screens—if not more). SAP says that SAP Fiori 3 will fix these levels of frustration.

From Frustration to UX Harmonization

As a web-based application interface design solution, SAP Fiori 3 will now harmonize the design and interaction model that denotes how resulting applications will function and how they will be presented with a more-consistent user experience.

According to SAP user experience evangelist Esther Blankenship, “A consistent user experience makes good business sense for many reasons. Users need less training and they need to get up to speed faster, make fewer errors, produce higher quality data, and be more motivated. Guessing about [the function behind] unfamiliar icons, hunting for buttons, speculating about terminology, and relearning color semantics slows people down and makes the experience frustrating.”

SAP Fiori Launchpad Journey to SAP S/4HANA

There’s also more backroom engine power headed for SAP Fiori. The company has noted that it is aligning its data analytics tools closer to SAP S/4HANA Cloud platform in a way that incorporates a free tenant on the SAP Analytics Cloud for every SAP S/4HANA Cloud subscription. This means that users can create an analytical process directly within SAP S/4HANA using SAP Fiori Launchpad.

For the uninitiated, SAP Fiori Launchpad is the entry point to SAP Fiori apps on mobile and desktop devices. It is a “shell” that hosts SAP Fiori apps to provide services such as navigation, personalization, embedded support, and application configuration. The SAP Fiori Launchpad home page displays tiles, which can display live status indicators, such as the number of open tasks. Each tile represents a role-based business application that the user can launch.

This tighter engineering of SAP S/4HANA and SAP Fiori Launchpad means that users can now avoid the chore of having to switch between operational and analytical tools.

Say What You Want

The emphasis on helping to build applications with one single central user interface experience has been extended as a recurring theme in SAP Fiori 3. So much so that SAP has worked to accommodate users who would prefer to interact with applications using their voice and natural language understand (NLU) technologies.

Consequently, SAP has amplified the use of speech in the latest iteration of SAP Fiori and said that conversational user experience (CUX) allows users to express what they want to do in a natural way with a digital assistant, either by speaking or typing.

“The system does the hunting and gathering, so users can work across products in one continuous conversation and on a single screen. SAP Fiori 3 also provides users with a new search experience, including improved search previews, result pages, and result visualizations, which is fully integrated into the digital assistant,” Blankenship said.

Overall, SAP Fiori 3 appears to be in bloom. This is a technology that we first heard about some five or six SAP TechEd’s ago in 2013 when SAP called it a collection of applications intended to serve as shortcuts to common business functions. SAP Fiori 3 is arguably more than that now and may soon stand out as a design tool, which is what it really is.

Register for ASUG’s on-demand webcast and learn more about “Using Custom SAP Fiori Apps to Redesign a Business Process.”