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Understanding SAP Fiori – Something worth adding to your skillset

When we come across the term “SAP”, we often have questions in mind such as – is it an app or is it a technology? What are the prerequisites for the infrastructure? How do we build our own Fiori app? Well, before we jump into the pool of detailed questions, let’s first start by introducing the same.

SAP Fiori is a platform that provides the functionality of porting applications seamlessly across devices is it smartphones, tablets or desktops. It is based on SAP’s technology platform called NetWeaver. Fiori is SAP’s brand name for the apps based on SAP UI5. So for understanding Fiori, few initial knowledge of below terms is necessary.

  • MVC framework for UI
  • SAP UI5
  • HTML5
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Basic knowledge of SAP and its Authorization

Why SAP Fiori?

SAP customers have had complains about the look and feel of the standard screen and some incompatibilities with devices. SAP has been logging them all and had launched a set of applications that were based on HTML5 and fulfilled all frequently used SAP transactions.

The term “Fiori” is an Italian word meaning “flowers” thus referring to a beautiful UI. SAP Fiori engages in providing the users a simple and elegant user experience.

All advance applications are bound to have minor drawbacks, so does Fiori. Some SAP transactions are complex and these complex transactions have a dependency on multiple tasks. As a result, transactions may have many fields and configurations leading to difficulty in usage. To avoid cases where a sales representative (for example) is involved in unnecessary sales order creation rather than focusing on making sales, SAP simplified the complexity by splitting them into multiple simple UIs. Even the complex transactions have been split into smaller apps making them role specific.

The pains in business requirements that lead to global acceptance of Fiori are most notably for

  • Frequently travelling Managers who need to execute important processes.
  • Employees who look for ease of use and attractive user experience.
  • Improving employee productivity by lowering ownership cost

SAP Fiori at a Glance

SAP Fiori provides multiple applications.

  • Transactional Applications can be installed and configured on top of a SAP backend, and on top of any database. These apps let you perform transactional tasks like creating a leave request of an employee. They represent simplified views and can also be ported to other databases having acceptable performances. These apps display contextual information regarding central objects used in daily business operations. Transactional Apps run on any Database and Business Suite on HANA (high-performance analytic appliance)
  • Non-Transactional Applications are designed for SAP systems running on top of a SAP HANA database. Over 200 applications are available now, with more on the way.
    • Analytic Applications give users access to real-time data according to the business. For better user understandability and acceptability, these apps collect and process a large amount of data and present a simplified format within a fraction of a second. Analytical Apps run only on SAP HANA. They use virtual data models (VDMs) that provide direct access to business data by using standard SQL requests.
    • Fact Sheet Applications display key factors and information regarding central objects used in the user’s business operations. By using a fact sheet tile, users can get into the core details and navigate through individual sheets. Fact sheets can be accessed by users via a search bar, from other fact sheets, or through analytical or transactional apps.

The latest version of SAP software comes with the Fiori launchpad and Gateway services preinstalled. The Fiori Apps have been launched in waves. The first wave was called Wave1 and included 25 apps. Fiori was developed with the emphasis on a flat UI design and user-centric apps. This eventually placed them among the cross-platform cross-device applications. Each app is specific to a user’s role such as manager, employee, etc. User-centric apps are possible due to the concept of a role based approach.

SAP’s software engineering teams have crafted a nice framework for SAP’s UI future. But the question is – are we heading into a skills sinkhole? Due to lack of visibility and licensing concerns, non-SAP developers remain less engaged and exposed. Though SAP Fiori is a new age user experience (UX) for SAP, based on latest design principles that provide a holistic and a consistent experience across multiple devices, it is plagued with some challenges that include technological and implementation costs.  SAP Fiori can be both useful and less complex at the same time.

However, if you sit with an open mind, you can overcome all the major challenges encountered, apart from enjoying all the value added features with a fraction of the cost within the shortest time possible.