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The digital transformation strategy: SAP is not on track

Anyone who talks to SAP partners and customers on a daily basis arrives at an overall perception that goes something like this: "Cloud & Fiori? Quite nice, but nothing more." Most teams are happy if the existing SAP landscape works smoothly at all.
Christoph Garms, Neptune
November 2, 2018
The digital transformation strategy: SAP is not on track
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Yes, the transition to S/4 has begun, but in most companies it is still in sandbox mode and years away from becoming a reality.

But why aren't decision-makers crazy about the opportunities that digital transformation brings to their business? The answer is that business and end users are not clamoring for performance or digital because they are used to - and have almost accepted - slow and bulky SAP systems.

However, you might want to consider three main reasons why you should start transforming your SAP UI today.

1. true digital transformation

Digital transformation starts with your employees and customers learning to work and interact with a new kind of applications. "Design Thinking" and "User Experience" (UX) are means to close the gap between your employees and your future digital enterprise.

Whether workers in the field or employees in the office, mobile devices with smart applications will be a constant companion. But True Digital Transformation is not about "big bang change" - it's about gradually developing new and lean applications that help users perform their daily tasks and make their working lives easier.

However, digital transformation is a lengthy undertaking that consumes years of time and resources. The path SAP has laid out for SAP S/4 Hana is clear, but it is difficult for many SAP customers to follow this path on a small scale (especially for all on-premise customers).

In fact, companies that consider SAP mobility (for example, with Fiori apps) as the typical first step in transforming their processes are almost immediately stopped by high infrastructure requirements to get these apps up and running.

To run a single standard SAP Fiori application productively, customers must meet a list of requirements: SAP upgrades, oData protocols and SAP gateway server setup are just the most well-known.

But for those who find this too complex, there is light at the end of the tunnel when looking towards SAP S/4 Hana. NetWeaver-based low-code development platforms are on the rise to enable corporate SAP teams to develop UI5-based Fiori applications step by step on their existing SAP landscape.

These SAP S/4 Hana certified tools are based directly on the Abap stack and do not require SAP gateway middleware and oData services. The idea is to start your Fiori journey today and optionally use SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) and oData to lead your SAP landscape into the future.


2. flexibility & future-proofing

When you look at today's IT trends, open standards and robust APIs are prerequisites for your digital transformation. Companies need to create robust interfaces to stay competitive. SAP is promoting oData as the protocol of the future. At the same time, Abap remains the core SAP language - indeed, the SAP S/4 Hana core is coded entirely in Abap!

Ideally, your IT architect combines the best of both worlds. Leverage and reuse your company's Abap-based processes, especially any custom coding, and whenever it fits, the right oData services to connect to third-party systems or the SAP gateway.

This approach ensures that your Abap team's existing SAP business expertise remains your interface of choice, and guarantees that your applications are fully compatible with the slowly evolving S/4 world.

You'll also see your IT department remain independent of outside expertise, instead of being tied to shifting consultants and web development teams, with little to no SAP experience.

This "best of both worlds" approach will also increase budget flexibility for IT departments. Fewer external consultants and developers, coupled with fewer infrastructural changes while accelerating process innovation and mobilizing your workforce.

Not having to make the big investment today, but learning and transforming for the future - that's what really leads to flexibility and simplicity. And yes, they do exist, the large, but also the small SMEs that have already successfully converted their SAP UI to mobile and desktop in the last three years without waiting for the big conversion to S/4 Hana and SCP.

Today, these companies have happy users who already love their user interface as they now approach the next steps of the overall transition to the digital age - and they do so relaxed, without worry.

3. familiarize users with Fiori

Digital transformation essentially means putting the user at the center. It is a mistake to limit SAP Fiori UX to future applications and products by ignoring today's transactional business suite applications.

Companies that want to go mobile successfully should start redesigning their solutions now to improve user satisfaction and performance for the future. Whether the transformation starts with desktop applications in the browser or specific mobile applications that leverage mobile devices such as GPS, camera, barcode scanner or offline.

There are tons of transaction processes with great potential for improvement. Your field technicians can work offline, photographing damage and using GPS to find the right technical location (PM).

Traveling salespeople can use their tablets to create sales orders right at the customer site (SD), decision makers can approve purchase requisitions and leave requests on the plane (WF), and all employees can take care of their timesheets, travel expenses, leave requests, pay stubs and more on the device they are comfortable with (ESS/MSS).

These are standard requirements that must be implemented today to increase your employees' acceptance of tomorrow's digital enterprise. It is a wild management mistake to argue that these new interfaces are "quite nice, but nothing more".

In the age of digitalization, companies need to ensure that new technologies, powerful devices and software are combined to be ready for the upcoming challenge of transforming and optimizing your company's entire value chain.

Digital transformation is happening now, not sometime in the future. Decision-makers need to find the right means to start this journey step by step, with a strong focus on end-user pick-up.

By integrating Fiori UX into your business applications, you can rethink your user interface on mobile devices and desktops and start your journey to SAP S/4 Hana.

IT departments need lean tools, like Neptune Software's app development platform, to roll out their SAP landscape today and support the big changes of tomorrow.

By familiarizing your end users with Fiori UX step by step, the entire digital transformation becomes a smart journey on mobile and desktop, supported by motivated users.

Christoph Garms, Neptune

Christoph Garms is a pre-sales manager at Neptune Software.

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Working on the SAP basis is crucial for successful S/4 conversion. 

This gives the Competence Center strategic importance for existing SAP customers. Regardless of the S/4 Hana operating model, topics such as Automation, Monitoring, Security, Application Lifecycle Management and Data Management the basis for S/4 operations.

For the second time, E3 magazine is organizing a summit for the SAP community in Salzburg to provide comprehensive information on all aspects of S/4 Hana groundwork. All information about the event can be found here:

SAP Competence Center Summit 2024


Event Room, FourSide Hotel Salzburg,
At the exhibition center 2,
A-5020 Salzburg

Event date

June 5 and 6, 2024

Regular ticket:

€ 590 excl. VAT


Event Room, Hotel Hilton Heidelberg,
Kurfürstenanlage 1,
69115 Heidelberg

Event date

28 and 29 February 2024


Regular ticket
EUR 590 excl. VAT
The organizer is the E3 magazine of the publishing house AG. The presentations will be accompanied by an exhibition of selected SAP partners. The ticket price includes the attendance of all lectures of the Steampunk and BTP Summit 2024, the visit of the exhibition area, the participation in the evening event as well as the catering during the official program. The lecture program and the list of exhibitors and sponsors (SAP partners) will be published on this website in due time.