The way in which we work with software has changed radically over the years. We’ve become more and more accustomed to the speed and ease-of-use that popular commercial websites such as Google, Apple, and Amazon provide. Sites like these have set a benchmark that enterprise software is under pressure to match, because business users expect the solutions they use in their working environments to offer a similar level of user experience. To help its customers meet their users’ requirements in this area, SAP not only offers new applications with a simplified and more flexible user experience (UX): it has also built up an array of technical options and services that enable customers to significantly improve the user experience of their existing or custom-developed applications. Often, these improvements can even be made without the need for additional coding or modification.
The SAP UX Explorer provides an overview of the innovations, technologies, and services that are available to improve user-friendliness. It points out what their potential values are and also provides information about the specific benefits of individual components and how they could be adopted in customer environments.
Valuable for IT project managers, consultants, developers, and sales
Consequently, the SAP UX Explorer is particularly helpful for IT project managers, technology consultants, interface developers, and anyone else who is involved in the sales process or is responsible for planning and implementing UX improvements at partners or customers. The tool went on general release in March 2013 via the SAP HANA Cloud: in the intervening months, some 4,100 users have already registered to use it.
As well as providing a wealth of information about implementing, configuring, and adapting SAP products, SAP UX Explorer also shows decision-makers how different topics relate to each other – so that they can be confident about selecting the right technology, choosing the SAP solution that is likely to add the most value to their enterprise, or identifying steps that will make end-users’ jobs easier. For example, the “Explore Relations” view in SAP UX Explorer shows that SAP Fiori is based on the UI Development Toolkit for HTML5; while the “Collected Items” view allows the user to pin various items – like SAP NetWeaver Business Client and SAP NetWeaver Portal – that he or she would like to compare in detail. If more information is required, the SAP UX Explorer contains direct links to existing resources on sites such as the SAP Community Network, the SAP Service Marketplace, and the SAP Help Portal.
The SAP UX Explorer database already contains information on more than 120 topics that relate to user experience, and content is being added and updated on an ongoing basis. Going forward, SAP plans to augment the current, predominantly technical, perspective with a business process-oriented view. In this way, it will be responding to customer requests for a clearer picture of the UX improvements that new applications contain and of the underlying technologies that are required to benefit from them.
Customers able to devise own UX strategy
SAP has also begun preparations for the launch of a new SAP UX Explorer function known as the “Advisor Tool”. The initial phase of preparations begins this month, when members of the DSAG, the German-speaking SAP user group, will access the tool and answer a series of questions. Based on the answers given by each customer, the SAP UX Explorer will compile a “personalized” list of items from the database which that particular customer should read first. In the second phase, slated for the first half of 2014, this concept will be expanded so that, ultimately, customers will be able to devise their own UX strategy template and road map. A more detailed description of the SAP UX Explorer and a practical example of its potential use in the enterprise are available in this white paper.
No two customers have exactly the same requirements. This makes it all the more important for SAP to comprehensively support its customers in finding the right solutions for their individual needs. To deliver flexibility on this scale, SAP offers a wide range of technical options and a broad spectrum of services that help customers in many different ways, including analyzing the environment in which end users work so as to accurately identify and quantify their requirements.
“Our customers will continue to focus on mixing current technical trends – such as HTML5-based applications – with existing investments in a way that is both practicable and profitable. The current trend toward mobile devices is clearly a major driving force in this respect,” explains Jürgen Jakowski, who is the chief product expert for SAP UX Explorer in the Strategic Technology Advisory Projects area.
Spotting new trends such as augmented reality
The important thing for enterprises is to keep their eyes open and to spot new trends at an early stage. “Augmented reality” is one such trend. Although relatively new, this concept holds considerable promise for the future, especially as devices such as Google Glass continue to emerge and develop. SAP is already investing in this trend and looking for ways to turn its potential into tangible business value for customers.