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How simple can a business app really be?

In my previous blogs about our app suite strategy and SAP’s new mobile design, I talked about how we at SAP put the app user at the center of all our considerations. That we design our mobile apps to simplify crucial steps in core business processes, for more flexibility and resilience. For example, by allowing people to handle workflows centrally wherever they are, or by digitalizing and streamlining warehouse operations.

Nevertheless, from an end user’s perspective, many will say that you can’t compare a business app to a weather app or a social media app. These apps I can try out as soon as I download them from an app store. Maybe I need to create an account, but then I'm ready to go.

Even for non-techies it’s hard to imagine someone installing an SAP app just like that, no matter if actually using such an app will be much easier than sticking to proprietary industrial hardware. For a business app, you most certainly need an SAP solution implemented, with the respective users set up. There‘s a big chance you need SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP). You probably also need individual configurations. All things that seem to stand in the way of the quick implementation of an app (from a customer perspective) and finally using it (from an end user’s view).

But is that really so today?

Some of those points I cannot argue away. Of course, certain prerequisites are necessary in many cases. Otherwise the respective SAP app would not be able to do what you expect of it, with your company’s specific needs.

However, this has motivated our mobile development teams even more to make the simplified adoption of our apps a central theme of our mobile experience. The objective is clear: The entry level must be as low as possible to introduce an app and make it available –– the part that happens before employees or a company become the equivalents of consumers that download an app from the Apple or Google (or your company’s) stores.

For me, there are two twists to this story. Number one is a holistic cloud and integration strategy. The second is about how we build a simplified path to app adoption into our overall mobile experience, and this didn’t have the attention it deserves –– until now.

The first aspect is an integral part of SAP’s product strategy and has been dealt with intensively. With our cloud applications and SAP BTP with its frameworks, we have come much closer to the idea of offering out-of-the-box solutions. We are also constantly evaluating our licensing models in order to be able to offer customers the best overall packages for their scenarios. And we are continuing to push this forward constantly, with lots of updates also being published here in this community.

The second twist contains what I consider to be core elements of an end-to-end Mobile Experience. With the release of SAP Mobile Start a year ago as a native entry point to our app suite. With our Mobile Experience strategy, we are now looking at the entire storyline: from discovering our apps for the first time to becoming an enabled user who engages with us to really get the best experience thinkable for their needs.

It‘s our path to accelerated app adoption:

  • Think like consumers. We are building an experience that utilizes the best characteristics of great consumer apps. We offer people the easiest way to find and try out what’s available. We are optimizing the presentation of our offerings in app stores, both in terms of a more precise portfolio and a modernized, more harmonic appearance that has been introduced with SAP Mobile Start. Every app is part of a suite, and that becomes more obvious with every new addition and update. A mandatory standard that we have defined for all our apps is a demo mode that allows you to try out any SAP app immediately, even without having access to a backend. By the way, this is also great material for our sales people and helps them a lot showing the complete package offered by SAP.

  • Open for you, wherever you are. Another must-have and equally consumer-oriented: We are consistently implementing now accessible, intelligent feedback channels into every app, which directly reach the right, open ears at SAP. For example, product development. Our promise: Our people-centric experience counts on deep customer and user engagement, from creating the right persona to designing new features.

  • Make apps easy to get, wherever your people are. Large enterprises need secure ways to distribute devices to their employees, and to manage the apps used. At the same time, employees should be able to access the SAP features they need as easily as possible via their apps. That's why we simplify the integration with mobile device management (MDM) systems and, additionally, encourage the implementation of single sign-on, helping our customers with this. At SAP, we have gained extensive experience in this area since many years, with a history of building our own apps since the 1stsmartphones were available. We have implemented a new MDM system a couple of years ago, which we use for many, many thousands of mobile devices and computers with various operating systems. For our employees, installing an SAP app doesn’t feel much different than getting it from a commercial app store. It’s even simpler in many cases.

In summary, for us, a true mobile experience means a comprehensive overall concept that reaches deep into the levels of enterprise solutions. An enterprise mobile experience requires a thorough understanding of specific industry and business process requirements, deeply below what’s visible on the user interface. That’s a superpower only SAP has to offer. And it results with the pleasing fact that we can simplify work with SAP for many people, wherever they happen to be working.

So even if implementing a business app cannot always work completely without any customer-specific efforts involved: In the end, it needs to look like a pleasant ride, from first encounter to everyday use.



An end-to-end mobile experience for the Digital Supply Chain


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