SAP Fiori is SAP’s design system, enabling developers to create consistent, intelligent, and collaborative applications. Following the SAP design standards ensures a consistent user experience across all of SAP’s solution areas, regardless of the underlying technology or on what type of device someone runs their applications. In addition, SAP Fiori serves as a common language for designers and developers to ensure they serve their shared customer: the business user.

SAP Fiori started in 2013, as a collection of 25 simple apps. It introduced a new paradigm for using SAP, based on roles rather than business objects. While these apps were easier to use, their broad adoption was limited, as there were very few end-to-end business processes that could be executed solely using SAP Fiori apps. This limitation continues to constrain SAP Fiori adoption for SAP ERP Central Component (ECC) customers, as they only have around 300 SAP Fiori apps available to them. For organizations using SAP S/4HANA, it’s a completely different story.

SAP Fiori apps make it easy for business users to complete their work using intuitive screens.

SAP Fiori is the face of SAP S/4HANA

Running SAP Fiori across your enterprise is easy in SAP S/4HANA, as there are over 3,000 SAP Fiori applications, covering the most common business scenarios. Many business users can do their jobs and only touch SAP Fiori apps. Surprisingly, some companies still choose to do a “technical upgrade" in their move to SAP S/4HANA, which means upgrading the back end but still using the older, classic apps rather than their modern SAP Fiori counterparts. Many have good intentions to move to SAP Fiori later, after the upgrade is complete, but sometimes this does not happen for several years, if ever.

Why would organizations choose this approach when the benefits of a good UX are clear and easy to quantify? A good UX gives you measurable business benefits, such as:

  • Increasing adoption of your application – What does it cost you to maintain parallel systems if people are not doing their work in the SAP system of record?
  • Improving business user productivity – How much time do people spend struggling with daily tasks that are not as intuitive as they could be?
  • Decreasing training time – How much time and money are you spending on training users how to use SAP for their work?
  • Improving data quality - How much do you spend on re-work to fix data entry issues?
  • Enhancing user satisfaction – What’s your employee turnover from people becoming frustrated with their daily online tasks?

SAP Fiori also comes into play during the application development process.

To scale from its original 25 apps to the 3000 available today, SAP needed to create new tools to boost developer efficiency, enforce UX consistency, and ensure that all the apps contain the enterprise-grade features that people expect, such as accessibility, responsiveness, and security. The SAP Fiori elements framework addresses all these items with a set of standard floorplans that address around 80% of typical SAP use cases. Reusable building blocks and custom SAPUI5 code can fill the gaps to cover apps for any business scenario.

Even though the SAP Fiori elements framework greatly simplifies application development, eliminating UI coding in many cases, feedback from SAP’s own development teams and external partners convinced SAP the ecosystem needed an easier way to build apps at scale. So, SAP created SAP Fiori tools to simplify the process of writing or modifying SAP Fiori apps throughout the entire development process.

The SAP Fiori tools set of extensions for SAP Business Application Studio and Visual Studio Code makes it faster and easier to develop SAP Fiori elements applications. It includes a code completion wizard, simple and intuitive development guides that create code and automatically insert it into your applications, and visual tools for adjusting the structure of your apps. SAP is additionally adding AI capabilities that let you generate an app from a business requirements document or a sketch of the app you want use. The artificial intelligence engine creates data services, applications, and even mock data you can use to test your app.

The SAP Fiori tools set simplifies application development with pre-made code snippets you can insert into your app.

Since SAP provides so many out-of-the-box SAP Fiori apps to make building apps easier and faster than ever, why isn’t everyone using SAP Fiori?

Change is hard, but necessary if you want to adopt innovations

The main reason companies don’t all flock to SAP Fiori is because it represents a change. More precisely, it represents a change to the way people work and how that is documented in policies, procedures, and training curricula. People must learn how to find or enter data on new screens, adapt to new navigation patterns as they complete their tasks, and even adjust how they launch the applications. Old-school SAP veterans can enter a transaction code and jump directly to the transaction they need; current users rely on the SAP Fiori launchpad, where people scroll through tiles to find the app you need. For organizations on the latest version of SAP S/4HANA, the new entry point, called “My Home,” greatly simplifies this.

My Home is the new face of SAP S/4HANA. It provides instant access to the apps you need and alerts you proactively to situations that require immediate action.

My Home is designed to speed up access to apps and, more importantly, to highlight situations that need immediate attention. Even without any configuration, it will give you shortcuts to the apps you use most. The biggest time saver are proactive notifications that let you jump to your inbox or other apps that require action. There is AI “under the covers,” which makes these recommendations, more of which will be added as SAP’s team uncovers common usage patterns for different roles and industries.

So, how can you implement changes in your organization that drive growth? How can you increase an individual’s appetite for new innovations? The most important way is to involve business users, ideally early and often. Discuss business challenges, how to accelerate desired initiatives, and what’s holding them back from achieving their goals. Use low-cost prototypes to test ideas, and only invest in full-scale development when people commit to use what you build (or buy from SAP or a partner). This will still require change, but change that people initiate on their own is more effective than change that’s imposed on them from outside.

AI is a productivity booster

The new SAP Fiori paradigm is based on bringing information to the end-user proactively. On the My Home page, “Situations” uses traditional AI to alert people when something in their business needs attention, such as a low stock of a popular item or issue in the supply chain. Integration cards surface information in tabular or graphical format that allows people to make informed decisions. Once someone has navigated to the relevant app, more AI comes into play to help them find the information they need more quickly and to share it with colleagues at the right level of granularity.

On a list report, we are working on a new AI-driven filter that offers a single interface to query the system using natural language. This means there’s no longer a need to have many filter boxes on the screen that force the user to determine which ones to fill in and which to leave blank. A simple “show me…” statement greatly speeds up productivity and simplifies subsequent inquiries.

Planned generative AI in SAP Fiori elements apps enables users to define multiple filter settings in a single input field in SAP Fiori elements apps using natural language.

Moving down a level of detail to the object page, the planned smart summarization function streamlines collaboration. You can distill the content on the page into a short summary and then share with a colleague by copying the summary and pasting it into email or Microsoft Teams. This provides an additional collaboration option to the “Share with Teams” functionality that’s built into SAP Fiori elements apps.

It’s time to get started with SAP Fiori, if you haven't already

With so much innovation happening in SAP Fiori, and increasing competition in many markets, the cost of waiting until the right time to implement SAP Fiori is steadily increasing. The right time is now! If you analyze the factors listed above related to the costs of poor UX, you will likely discover that the cost of doing nothing far exceeds the cost of getting started. The new generative AI capabilities that help accelerate SAP Fiori application development and simplify SAP Fiori app consumption are also increasing the costs of sitting on the sidelines.

If your company prefers not to be first to try new technology, don’t worry: you won’t be. SAP understands the difficulties of managing change in a work environment where there is little spare time for training on new ways of working and new user interfaces. If you lack the skills to launch SAP Fiori apps, extend the ones that SAP ships, or build your own, then a vast ecosystem of partners is waiting to help you.

Please join my session at SAP Sapphire & ASUG Annual Conference (ASUG301) to learn more details about SAP Fiori and how you can start or accelerate the journey to a better SAP user experience.

Peter Spielvogel leads product marketing for SAP Cloud ERP UX Engineering.

For more insights on SAP Fiori, join ASUG on May 21 at 12:00 p.m. CT for the ASUG S/4HANA(ERP) Community Alliance Presents: SAP Fiori Road Map Influence Council. Register here. 

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