SAP launches Fiori: consumer-style apps for common business functions

Quick-use apps for workflow approvals, information searches, self-service tasks and more from your daily office grind.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

SAP launched this morning a new collection of applications intended to serve as shortcuts to common business functions.

The company calls the initiative Fiori, and announced it during its Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, Florida.

The first release includes 25 apps for functions such as approve leave requests, approve travel expenses, timesheet, paystubs, create sales orders, customer invoices and track purchase order. The idea is to provide easy access to these functions, which are already possible through its traditional software offerings, through a simple, "consumer-style" user interface.

The HTML5-based, responsive apps work across devices, desktop to tablet to phone. They can be deployed as a collection or a la carte, and can be restricted based on four roles: manager, employee, sales representative and purchasing agent. They are available immediately and are priced per user.

SAP says it developed Fiori by working closely with 250 of its customers — one was U.S. consumer products company Colgate-Palmolive, another was energy company Valero — to figure out what the most commonly used functions were and how to clear away UI hurdles in front of them.

The value proposition for Fiori echoes SAP's other products: speed, productivity, savings.

The question is whether these apps represent yet another step toward the consumerization of IT or a tacit acknowledgment by SAP that its core enterprise software offerings overly complicate the workflow to accomplish simple, oft-used tasks. That's a design issue (SAP is not exactly renowned for its interfaces, though they're hardly the worst in the industry), but a point worth considering for SAP's product managers.

Apps to make processes simple? Absolutely. But if you need a second product to make your first product work better, are you really directing your design and development efforts in the best fashion?

"We are on a mission to renew the experience across all of our applications," board member Vishal Sikka said in prepared remarks. "Users demand simplicity and ease of use."

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