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Deconstructing SAP Fiori Apps – June 2014

Updated: May 14, 2019

One year ago SAP released a new class of HTML5-based user interfaces under the branding ‘SAP Fiori’ as part of its revamped user experience strategy.  These apps are beautiful, offer simplicity in user experience, and in many cases can be deployed to multiple devices such as desktops, tablets, and mobiles.  The original delivery a year ago included 25 apps, covering commonly used SAP functions such as leave requests, timesheets, requisition approvals and so forth.

Roll forward to the present date (June 2014), and customers have been gifted with even more generous news.  The number of available SAP Fiori apps has grown rapidly to over 300+, and SAP has announced that these apps, previously licensed to customers at an additional cost, are now available freely to users who are already licensed for the underlying SAP software.

Here, we seek to deconstruct these apps to understand what they consist of, what SAP functions they relate to, and what underlying dependencies are necessary to run them.

It should be understood that this analysis is as at a point in time.  Clearly with the numbers of apps escalating from 25 to 300+ within a year, there is a steady stream of apps being delivered by SAP into the marketplace.  So check with SAP to find out the latest.

The metrics in this analysis have been sourced from SAP’s documentation of SAP Fiori apps which can be found here and here (note that the two lists do not match completely, so an attempt at some reconciliation was undertaken in the course of this analysis).

Here we go ….

Breakdown of SAP Fiori Apps by Type

SAP Fiori apps can be categorized into one of three types … transactional apps, fact sheet apps, and analytic apps.

Here are the overall metrics unearthed …

Note that SAP generally requires SAP HANA as a mandatory dependency to run SAP Fiori Fact Sheet and Analytic apps.  Which brings us to our next analysis …

Breakdown of SAP Fiori Apps requiring HANA

Looking at the dependencies for our SAP Fiori Apps, it becomes apparent that in general the Fact Sheet apps and Analytic apps require SAP HANA.  Note that this can entail the need for SAP Business Suite on HANA, or use of HANA as a side car.  Check with your SAP account executive for the specifics.  Nonetheless, if we simply assume all Fact Sheet apps and Analytic apps require SAP HANA, our proportion of apps requiring HANA looks like this …

In fact, the true percentage of apps requiring HANA as a mandatory dependency is greater than 72%.  A handful of the Transactional apps also require HANA, such as this one.  

Breakdown of SAP Fiori Apps by Underlying Application

When we deconstruct our sample of SAP Fiori Apps by underlying application, we see that the majority of apps sit on SAP ERP.  Here is the breakdown …

If your focus is core SAP ERP …

Of all the SAP Fiori apps in our sample, roughly 56% (173) are focussed on SAP ERP (note for our purposes here we separate such things as Smart Financials into other categories, as SAP appears to do so in its documentation).  The majority of SAP customers run SAP ERP, so we will dive deeper into this category.

Proportion of SAP Fiori apps focussed on SAP ERP: 56%

Of this, approximately 45 SAP ERP related apps are transactional in nature, and do not require SAP HANA as a mandatory dependency.  This means 74% (128) do require HANA.

Proportion of SAP Fiori apps focussed on SAP ERP that also require HANA: 74%

And of our 173 SAP ERP apps,  approximately 85% (151) also require Enhancement Package 7.  That is a release level that many SAP ERP customers are yet to reach.

Proportion of SAP Fiori apps focussed on SAP ERP that also require Enhancement Package 7: 85%

When we look at the apps focussed just on SAP ERP, and for which there is no mandatory requirement for SAP HANA, and no requirement for Enhancement Package 7 (albeit a minimum release level of ERP 6.0 SP15 or higher), then we are left with approximately 22 apps.  That 22 represents 7% of the total sample of SAP Fiori apps in this analysis.

Proportion of ERP related apps that don’t require either Ehp7 or HANA: 7%

What we can learn from this

So clearly we can see that if you are not on the SAP HANA bandwagon, you won’t be able to unlock the full potential of SAP’s now free SAP Fiori apps.  Similarly, if your systems are not up-to-date on recent release levels, then you also will struggle to leverage the full breadth of SAP’s 300+ Fiori apps.  The messaging is clear.  Customers will need to shift towards SAP HANA, and (potentially) upgrade to recent release levels to fully benefit from SAP’s Fiori apps.  Of course, this won’t be without cost …. as a learned colleague once told me, in the world of on-premise SAP … “no change is free”.

Other questions

In the course of this analysis, some other interesting thoughts were raised.  For instance, in SAP’s documentation there is reference to the ability to launch from the SAP Fiori launchpad into underlying SAP GUI transactions.  An example is documented here.  In fact here SAP mentions configuration of the SAP Fiori launchpad to be able to launch these SAP GUI transactions.

eg. “You can access the following transactions in your ABAP back-end system, for example: Display Material (MM03)”

But it does raise the question, doesn’t launching back into 1990’s SAP GUI transactions from SAP Fiori effectively break the UX principles upon which SAP Fiori is based?  And to make matters worse (or perhaps better), SAP includes this disclaimer if you are accessing the SAP Fiori launchpad from a mobile device or tablet …

“From mobile devices or tablets, you cannot access SAP GUI transactions or Web Dynpro transactions through the SAP Fiori launchpad.”

The delivery of analytics using SAP Fiori (based on SAP’s SAPUI5 libraries) also raises an interesting question.  What role does SAP BW and SAP Business Objects play in the future of SAP analytics?  I am no analytics expert, but it does beg the question.

Similarly we don’t see much mention of SAP Enterprise Portal (noting it recently lost its ‘NetWeaver’ branding tag).  SAP Fiori apps are launched from the SAP Fiori launchpad.  Effectively, SAP Fiori launchpad looks to be the future ‘web applications portal’ solution for SAP.  As it matures, we would expect to see diminishing emphasis on SAP Enterprise Portal (unless of course you use SAP Portal for other purposes, such as intranet delivery, knowledge management and collaboration).

So, the question about whether SAP would offer Fiori apps for free is answered.  But much like peeling an onion, it exposes layers of other complexities and questions for customers to answer.  One thing is true, change is afoot in the world of user interfaces for SAP.


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