SAP Fiori

How Gartner Got SAP Fiori So Wrong

Executive Summary

  • Gartner has provided information on SAP Fiori to the market that has proven to be highly inaccurate.
  • Gartner laid down and without performing research that Fiori would be SAPGUI’s replacement and that Fiori would be a “game changer.”

Introduction

In a previous article, What is Actually in the Fiori Box? I went through Fiori in detail and explained some features of Fiori, which are not understood. In this previous article, I stated that in my analysis, Fiori’s future is much more tenuous that one would think.

In performing this analysis, I repeatedly came across references for Gartner’s article, titled SAP Fiori UX: It is Not a Matter of If, but When.

This proposal of inevitability has been a common theme used by SAP recently when selling anything from HANA to S/4, etc.. It does not at all appear coincidental the SAP’s selling messaging is just about the same as Gartner’s title of an article on Fiori. In fact, in several areas, Gartner’s article did not read so much as an independent article, but more of a material that SAP partially wrote. This is reminiscent of an article I critiqued years ago, where Aberdeen Research published an article that was paid for by IBM.

Now it is well known that Gartner takes money from vendors, and it makes the most money from the largest providers. Gartner says this does not affect their output. 

However, Gartner fails again and again to predict SAP. They have been wrong about Fiori, HANA, and S/4HANA. And every time their failure is being too optimistic. Hmmmmm…. this plus being paid by SAP what is we estimate $100 million per year looks like bias.

This Magic Quadrant is devastating for Gartner’s credibility. Oracle Cloud ERP is so lacking in functionality that it is mostly implemented alongside on-premises Oracle ERP, as explained by Rimini Street. 

“If there is functionality coverage in Cloud ERP, some new features may be available. This is a big if, as there are huge gaps still present in Cloud ERP applications. Precisely the reason Oracle promotes the Cloud ERP co-existence strategy.”

Yet, somehow this widely lampooned system is the best cloud ERP on the planet. Right. Oracle has been desperate to get attention for their lagging ERP and shoveled so much money at Gartner that they bought the top spot. But it should be pointed out, Gartner shows more preferential treatment to SAP versus Oracle. I have never estimated how much Oracle pays to Gartner.

Gartner on SAP’s Effort on SAP Fiori

Gartner did a poor job of covering up their bias in this article, which is why I have decided to analyze the material in depth. Let’s begin with the first quote.

“SAP Fiori UX is an output of a conscious and well-funded effort to establish an internal design team inside SAP. This, in turn, is the result of a commitment to design-led software development at the most senior levels of the organization.”

That is undoubtedly true.

However, Gartner should recognize that this in itself is not a predictor of success. If Gartner does not realize this, then Gartner has not studied SAP over the years on its multiple product introductions. Any analyst who stops at this level that Gartner finished here….well, they are not qualified to cover the topic.

If Gartner were interested in bringing this background into its analysis, it would know that SAP has had many well-funded efforts with senior level support. And that only sometimes leads to success.

  • CRM had senior level support – and CRM is nowhere now as a product for SAP. (to be replaced by C/4HANA — someday)
  • PLM has had senior-level support – and is essentially no longer discussed
  • SPP had lots of support, (in addition to having very few competitors in the marketplace for service parts planning) is now a dead product

Most new initiatives do have senior level support as some senior person leads the group, etc.. But many applications with high-level support have also failed to become important drivers of SAP’s success.

Gartner on Fiori’s Scope

“Over 18 months, SAP Fiori UX has dramatically expanded in scope, in purpose and as a strategic component of SAP new S/4 Hana release.

Based on these factors, Gartner believes that SAP Fiori UX is unavoidable. While SAP customer are not being forced to implement SAP Fiori UX on SAP’s timeline, SAP customers must start planning for an SAP Fiori UX future.”

This is a very definitive conclusion proposed here by Gartner, but it is based on little evidence.

Let’s recap this evidence.

Gartner has concluded that Fiori is unavoidable because:

  • Fiori is well funded
  • Fiori has senior support from SAP
  • Fiori has grown in scope

That is it?

That is all it takes to convince Gartner that Fiori is unavoidable?

Furthermore:

  • Does Gartner believe that Fiori is inevitable as used along with SAPGUI, which will be still be managing the vast majority of screens?
  • Does Gartner believe that Fiori is unavoidable under the construct proposed by SAP that Fiori will replace SAPGUI?

We don’t know because Gartner provides little in the way of detail.

  1. If Fiori is not a SAPGUI replacement, as I covered in detail in my previous article, and if a customer wants to use another mobile and custom UI application provider (like a FreedomApps, or Kony, etc.) Then how is it that Fiori is unavoidable?
  2. If customers don’t want to use HANA, and as the vast majority of Fiori apps only work with HANA, then is Fiori still inevitable?
  3. I have been testing Fiori’s performance and have been communicating these problems to clients (as covered in the article Why is Fiori So Slow?). If Fiori is never able to meet minimum performance requirements, is Fiori still inevitable?

If Gartner had tested Fiori, rather than just cashing SAP’s check, they would know some of these things, but Gartner has (apparently) a specific policy to never touch any software.

Gartner on Using SAP Fiori

“Avoid modifying existing SAP Fiori UX apps if possible, and instead focus future SAP-related UX development on creating new apps.”

This is a confusing sentence. I had to go back to the original article to make sure I had not miscopied this somehow.

However, if I interpret it to mean that the customer should not customize Fiori apps — then it is true. However, it is true because Fiori’s development environment is inefficient for performing customization. SAP has proposed that Fiori can be customized. But in researching this issue, Gartner is correct; one should think of using each app as is from SAP.

Why is Gartner leaving the “why” out of the explanation, I thought Gartner was providing analysis. Is Gartner providing analysis or providing a covering for SAP here?

“Use SAP Fiori UX as a way to drive great process standardization in systems of record.”

This sentence means absolutely nothing.

Fiori does not allow for important process standardization. The term “system of record” seems just thrown into this sentence, and it has no meaning.  What if it did allow for process standardization — should it be applied also to SAP applications that are not the system of record?

At this point, it is becoming more than apparent that the authors don’t know what they are talking about. 

Gartner on SAP Fiori as SAPGUI Replacement?

“SAP Fiori UX is the new user experience for SAP Software. This seems like an innocuous statement — a statement that can be read as “Oh, that’s nice; SAP is making things look better.” If seen in that context, SAP Fiori UX would end up being something SAP customers might eventually consider when they have time.”

I think this paragraph requires one critical caveat. Fiori is partially a new user experience for SAP software.

Gartner is making the same proposal that SAP routinely makes — which is proposing in, at least an indirect manner, that Fiori is set to replace the SAPGUI. My previous article illustrates why this is untrue. Gartner gives no hint of this and is very much right on message with SAP.

As I point out in this analysis, Gartner is mimicking SAP’s messaging. That might be normal and not all that much of concern under other circumstances (i.e., repeating true things). However, SAP’s messaging on Fiori not accurate (as my previous article described). Therefore, Gartner is not performing much if any independent analysis versus what it is being provided by SAP.

Not to beat the dead horse, but let us say that a company has all the time in the world and that they like Fiori. But, as with most businesses, they do not have plans to use HANA. Or, if they plan to, it is in some very limited way. Port the BW to HANA, for instance. So now what?

Gartner on SAP Fiori as A “Game Changer”?

“SAP Fiori UX is anything but innocuous. It is such a radical rethink of the way people should interact with an ERP system that it will impact the way application leaders need to manage their SAP implementation, including team responsibilities, structures and success metrics. If successful, SAP Fiori UX will have profound implications on the enterprise software market.”

Fiori is much nicer looking than the SAPGUI, but it is less functional than SAPGUI because it is primarily a mobile reporting app.

Its almost as if Fiori is designed more to look good in brochures rather than being a functional UI. In testing, Fiori takes longer than doing the same actions in SAPGUI. Fiori only has the advantage of graphics display over SAPGUI. Outside of a few small SAP consulting partners that are using the Professional Services functionality, globally, we estimate that companies using Fiori exclusively to “work in” S/4HANA is close to nil. 

SAP’s Overhyped Mediocre UI

I don’t see it as in the same category as the top UI’s among the 53 vendors I have covered. Plus, one can’t analyze a series of mobile applications — that are designed to do more simple things as a user interface that drives the entire application. Fiori is not the primary user interface of SAP. Again, this distinction seems lost on Gartner.

“SAP Fiori UX delivers a fundamentally different user experience by being centered on the tasks and activities that matter to the end user. In contrast to previous approaches by SAP, the Fiori experience is not limited to a functional area, but rather cuts across functional areas and end-to-end processes. This is delivered through a collection of purposeful apps (see “The App and Its Impact on Software Design” ). The Fiori concept also entails end users’ ability to choose, invoke and manage their own set of apps via the Fiori launchpad. Fiori apps work equally on desktops, tablets or smartphones (see “Turning Supertankers: Getting SAP UX Right”).”

Having extensively tested Fiori (rather than taking notes from SAP relationship managers as Gartner did), I don’t think this is true, and a lot of details are being glossed over here.

  • First, many Fiori apps are solely within one functional area.
  • Second, I am also not convinced that Fiori works equally well on desktops, tablets, or smartphones. It would be highly unlikely if it did. SAP made an error basing Fiori on mobile UI technologies. People do not need to use SAP applications on tablets or phones. If they do, they can use apps created by mobile teams that write in either Android or iOS that send data to SAP. (SAP seems to be refighting the battles of SAP Mobile. SAP already lost the mobile space to Andriod and iOS development.)

Fiori’s Core Strength in Display

Fiori’s core strength is on mobile devices, so tablets and smartphones. How can a user interface that is designed to show a screen work as well on a phone as it does on a computer? Even web pages — which are considerably less complicated than an enterprise application screen and are geared for display — lose functionality when transitioning from a computer to a phone. Try using LinkedIn on the phone, and then compare the experience/functionality to using LinkedIn on a computer. LinkedIn is optimized for phones, not computers.

Screen real estate, as well as input devices (keyboards, mice, etc.), mean substantial differences in usage. I am happy to be updated on a phone or tablet, but if I have serious work to do. If I am going to plan a supply network or analyze a series of forecasts, I don’t see how any application on the planet is going to work “equally” well on a phone, tablet, or computer. And this had nothing to do with SAP or Fiori — it is a statement that applies to application interfaces overall. A user interface also works differently depending upon the size and resolution of a monitor or when used across two computer screens versus one.

Where is Gartner coming from here? Don’t they user, user, interfaces on different devices? Why don’t they just intuitively know this?

Once again, this sounds suspiciously like SAP’s messaging on Fiori. Who are the actual authors of this article — the people listed by Gartner on the article or SAP?

Gartner Wraps Up with Some Lightweight Fare

Later in the article, Gartner waxes philosophically about how Fiori should be looked at differently than SAP’s previous (and failed) UI attempt — called Personas.

Well, wait for a second — what happened to Personas??

In 2015  I was proposing Personas as pre-sales support for part of a sales team as a new way to use SAP that was much better than the SAPGUI. (Personas is now dead by the way). Why does Gartner not discuss the failure of Personas? Personas has almost the same marketing as Fiori.

Gartner Praises Hasso Plattner’s Philanthropy

The article goes on to praise Hasso Plattner for his philanthropic donations to the Hasso Plattner School of Design. (Interestingly, they don’t point out Hasso Plattner’s “philanthropic donations” to Gartner itself) Then Gartner discusses how Fiori should be seen as a culmination of his commitment to this high-minded principle or that high-minded principle. I teared up at one point! It’s all very captivating until you realize that Gartner is being paid per word.

First, I don’t see what any of this has to do with Fiori’s real prospects. Secondly, once again, these paragraphs (which I do not include so as not to provide too much of Gartner’s content) seem like they were coordinated with SAP’s PR department.

Gartner then falls a logical utility hole when providing an utterly spurious example from history — which will confuse anyone unfamiliar with what happened.

“A good analogy is to see this in the context of SAP’s move from client/server to service-oriented architectures. Modern service-oriented architectures were not simply a matter of upgrading infrastructure and then installing the new version. SOA has had direct impacts on the way application design and management occurred. For example, application development teams needed to understand the principles of good service design and associated information architecture implications while manifesting a culture of reuse…. Just like the transition to SOAs, SAP Fiori UX will necessitate that application teams understand the principles of good UX design and put these into regular practice.”

This entire paragraph is incorrect. SOA was one of the high lead balloons in the past ten years in technology. SOA never came to fruition, and SAP never did much to enable SOA.

SAP’s Financial Incentives Against SOA

One could say that a vendor like SAP would have all the financial incentives to push against SOA — not to promote it, as it moves towards more open systems. But more open systems leads to less lock-in, and less lock-in leads to less profit. This is reminiscent of Vinnie Mirchandani’s book SAP Nation, where SAP talks cloud to Wall Street, but then sells on-premises, because of that locks in customers are better.

Therefore if we review Gartner’s logic here, Gartner is saying that something that never took off — SOA, is a reason why Fiori should be considered inevitable? Does Gartner even know that SOA never was successful? It is an interesting approach. I never thought of working fake history into any of my articles.

This entire paragraph brings up a lot of questions to me. This might be one of the only paragraphs that would argue against SAP writing this, as SAP must know that this is incorrect and that people familiar with technology would see this as a major red flag.

Conclusion

  • This article by Gartner is almost entirely inaccurate regarding Fiori but is also filled with falsehoods that are unrelated to Fiori.
  • It also fails to bring up any of the most interesting points about Fiori.
  • Based on the article, I have no confidence that the authors know anything about Fiori beyond what they were told by SAP.

Someone did not mind the store when this article was released. Gartner is supposed to take money from vendors, but it is intended to do a better job of covering up their bias — and not release documents like this that show such blatant bias.

Something I find interesting is that I have rated many applications, and rated their user interface. Some of the best user interfaces I have come across are from Arena Solutions, DemandWorks, BaseCRM, and PlanetTogether. These are not add-on apps that are a sideshow to the main event; they are the actual user interface used by these applications. They have been around for years and are live on many accounts. However, instead of writing about exemplary user interfaces that are already live at customers from smaller vendors that have much smaller checkbooks, Gartner spends time writing about the “inevitability” of adjusting apps that cannot replace the core user interface of the supplier in question.

Why?

That is something the reader can most likely answer for themselves.

And so far, Fiori has very little uptake by customers (and this article was updated in July 2018). So Gartner has so far not done a good job predicting the future of Fiori.

References

Five Upgrade Strategies for Oracle E-Business Suite Customers to Consider, Rimini Street