Wrapping up day 2 of SAPPHIRE NOW 2015, a small group of bloggers met with Sam Yen, SAP’s Chief Design Officer, to talk about user experience at SAP. That, of course, means Fiori: the user experience platform that is part of HCP and S/4HANA, and now the standard platform for creating user interfaces to SAP software. This means a shift for SAP developers (as well as customers’ developers), moving to an environment that includes disaggregated UI components and a responsive interface rather than the old-school monolithic static interfaces. It’s not just about learning some new tools: this also requires learning new design guidelines and interaction patterns. Although the new products (and customers) use Fiori for the application UI, there is a huge installed base of SAP customers using older UI platforms; as they migrate from the older Business Suite to S/4, they may not want to migrate all of their UI immediately, or they may want to modernize interfaces on the older suite using Fiori. SAP’s design efforts are focused on S/4HANA, but they can’t ignore the needs of the “classic” installations.
Version 2 of Fiori is in the works, and he showed us a demo video with more informative tiles that can scale from a tile within a desktop dashboard, to a smaller interface on a tablet, to a single tile interface on a phone or watch.
Yen talked about SAP’s journey in migrating the huge number of interfaces that exist for their products to Fiori, which is multiplied several times over for their customers’ custom interfaces. This is obviously not a 1:1 exercise since there is a lot of redesign of the entire experience, not just a straight migration, but they are up against the same modernization problem as any large software developer: hand-coding of these by experienced interaction designers can’t possibly scale to the size required to do a complete refactoring of the UI. He showed us [ALL THE COOL STUFF REDACTED BECAUSE I WAS STUPID ENOUGH TO ASK FOR PERMISSION RATHER THAN FORGIVENESS WHEN NO NDA WAS SPECIFIED].
A quick and informal Q&A rather than a prepared presentation, and my last session while on site in Orlando. I’ll be back in my own office by tomorrow morning, and will hopefully have time to watch Hasso Plattner’s keynote online to wrap up SAPPHIRE for me.