What Ever Happened to SAP Personas?

Last Updated on March 1, 2021 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • SAP made a large number of exaggerated forward-looking statements around Personas. But after Fiori arrived, Personas essentially disappeared as time passed.
  • Now the question remains, whatever happened to Personas?

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 Fiori’s future is much more tenuous in my analysis than one would think.

Our References for This Article

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Lack of Financial Bias Notice: We have no financial ties to SAP or any other entity mentioned in this article.

  • This is published by a research entity.
  • Second, no one paid for this article to be written, and it is not pretending to inform you while being rigged to sell you software or consulting services. Unlike nearly every other article you will find from Google on this topic, it has had no input from any company's marketing or sales department. 

The Gartner Paper on Fiori

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 appear coincidental that 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.

It is well known that Gartner takes money from vendors, making the most money from the largest providers. Gartner says this does not affect their output.

However, on some occasions, it is evident through the analysis; they release that these payments do affect them. And this article I will critique on Fiori is a perfect example of this financial bias. Gartner did a poor job of covering up their preference in this article, which is why I have decided to analyze the article in depth.

Gartner Introducing The Topic of SAP Personas

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

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

Last year, I was proposing SAP Personas as part of a sales team as a new way to use SAP that was much better than the SAPGUI. (SAP Personas is now dead, by the way) The article goes on to praise Hasso Plattner for his philanthropic donations to the Hasso Plattner School of Design, furthermore, how Fiori should be seen as a culmination of his commitment to this high-minded principle or that high-minded principle.

The Wind Beneath One’s Wings

I teared up at one point. I then found my old copy of the soundtrack to Beaches and played the Wind Beneath my Wings.

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 to provide too much of Gartner’s content) seem like they were coordinated with SAP’s PR department. Did Gartner get paid extra for Hasso Plattner’s image? What about Hasso’s work with the homeless? This does not at all seem like an independent analysis.

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.

The Lack of Embarrassment Regarding Referencing 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 and sells on-premises. Because of that, locks in customers are better.

Therefore, if we review Gartner’s logic here, Gartner says that something that never took off — SOA, is 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 articles 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 significant red flag.

Conclusion

This article is ahistorical. It does not bring up SAP’s previous attempts at user interfaces that were supposed to transform the front end.