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Not too long ago, with the launch of SAP Fiori, we began to focus on the importance of simple design. Since the initial launch of Fiori in 2013 with 25 Fiori Apps, SAP Fiori app portfolio has grown to over 500 Fiori apps. Even though Fiori enables instant mobilization and simplification of business processes, standard "out of the box apps only "are not enough to address every business process (such as cross platform business transactions or location aware apps etc.). There is a huge need for designing custom apps that are context specific and can integrate with many platforms.

According to Gartner Hype Cycle for Application Development 2013,

"Business users need to be enabled to create custom software applications that once required the assistance of professional programmers."

Traditionally, it has not been easy to create custom enterprise apps across multiple channels and platforms. Some of the reasons include:

  • Absence of enterprise app design framework (creative, problem solving and innovative framework)
  • Lack of development accelerators to build apps.
  • Hassle of setting up complex infrastructure/platforms for development

With the maturity of SAP HANA Cloud platform, building custom apps has become a significantly easy and straight-forward process. Here are two major reasons for building custom apps on SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

Simplify business processes & platforms: Eliminate multi channel gaps within business processes

Custom apps create seamless and simple experience across multiple disconnect channels.

The boundaries of our information and business processes no longer reside within enterprise systems. During day to day business processes, users
interact with applications that are outside the typical enterprise system.  Let us take a look at a day in a life of a business user where a user may interact with:

  • Email
  • Microsoft office products
  • SharePoint  or Internal Portal
  • Internally built applications
  • Vendor Portals
  • multichannel data-sources- such as social media, machines, hardware devices
  • ....and many more touch-points.

Although the information that the users need  to do their job is available to users, it may be hard to get to or not in an easy to consume format as the information is spread across multiple channels that cannot be easily combined. This results in significantly lowering the productivity of users and creates gaps in the business process. Given our experience working with a travel agency, it took more than 45 minutes to book one transaction due to multiple touch points with various vendor portals, too many disconnected systems, password entries and wasteful steps to find information in internal systems.

By combining Design Thinking framework and HANA cloud platform, we can easily and quickly remove the gaps within multi channel processes.

  • First, apply the  Design Thinking framework to discover gaps in business processes. You can utilize prototyping tools to identify solution design.
  • Next, you can then build a customized app to fill these gaps in business processes by creating simple, seamless and coherent experiences across multiple channels. Building and deploying apps on HANA cloud platform significantly reduces the development  effort and complexity. Unlike traditional on-premise development that takes upfront setup of infrastructure, there are no prerequisites needed for building apps on HCP. When you build an app on HCP, you go through a simple  registration process on the HANA cloud platform that is very easy to understand.

Speed of innovation: Addressing the "instant" needs of business

Building customized  apps in the cloud allows us to meet the "instant needs of the business". In the past, a custom Fiori app could be built as early as in 2 -4 weeks. Today, the app deployment process with HCP enablement tools such as mobile services  (HCPMS) and WEBIDE makes the app development significantly faster.

  • HCPMS: HCPMS is a fully featured  and secure mobile platform in the cloud  that leverages ODATA with offline capabilities. HCPMS also includes enhanced features such as integration with  location aware technologies and social media etc. Enablement of HCPMS within SAP HANA Cloud platform allows us to build mobile apps without setting up heavy infrastructure. Finally, SAP Mobile Secure Powered By Mocana  can be enabled on HCP with simple & straight forward steps allowing business users to secure and easily access these mobile applications.
  • WEBIDE: WebIDE is cloud enabled web based  development tool designed to support the E2E application lifecycle for SAPUI5. It is the recommended toolset for extending and creating Fiori applications. The layout editor and pre-built template gallery features of WebIDE make it possible for casual technical users.  In addition, the Web IDE HAT (A plug-in for WebIDE- hybrid application toolkit)  simplifies  the development of mobile hybrid apps on Web IDE and provides integrated deployment to the HCPMS.

In our recent experience, it took us just a couple of hours to build new Fiori apps with HCP.

The speed and agility that comes with HCP is a true reflection of the observations sited by renowned technology author, Peter Hinssen who describes the era of cloud as the 3rd phase of IT . According to Hinssen- IT evolution took place in 3 phases.

  1. First Phase of IT-  Traditionally, companies hired an army of in-house developers to build highly custom software solutions which used to take years or even decades to deliver the solutions business. This approach significantly slowed down IT's ability to deliver business solutions.
  2. Second Phase of IT- During the second phase of IT, companies bought software and spent months or years to customize it. This approach was faster than phase1 but still limited the speed of innovation.
  3. Third Phase of IT- Now, we can deliver solutions directly from the cloud, which takes  just a few minutes or weeks to deliver solutions to the business- resulting in faster speed of innovation.

Today, businesses are very eager to change the way they operate to lower their costs especially in industries that experience lower growth rates.  At the same time, the marketplace is changing at light speed and organization’s internal dynamics are still rigid and they are not able to keep up with the change. Simple Design solves these challenges. To achieve simple design for the survival in today's marketplace, it is crucial for businesses to take advantage of the cloud. Cloud gives businesses the agility to keep up with outside change and to stay relevant.,

SAP HANA Cloud Platform brings limitless possibilities for innovative & secure applications that can be built  quickly & deployed instantly.

And for these reasons, we passionately recommend building apps on HANA Cloud Platform (HCP).

Have you tried designing new apps in the cloud? What kind of frameworks and accelerators did you leverage? I would love to hear from you.

About the author: sana.salam

Sana Salam is the president and founder of Sodales Solutions - an award winning SAP certified partner specialized in Enterprise Mobility, User Experience and Big Data solutions. Before starting Sodales, Sana worked as a turnaround project manager where she revived derailed IT projects that suffered from complexity. Sana's inspiration behind Sodales was to help enterprises simplify their business by humanizing the meaning of technology. Her firm uses SAP's innovative technologies and user experience methods to solve business complexities with design thinking framework. As a winner of the SAP Mobile Apps Challenge for Microsoft Windows 8 , the winner of SAP Google Apps challenge and the first SAP partner to certify a Fiori app, Sana has a unique perspective to offer to companies who are looking to simplify their business.

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