This year’s theme was “Focus on the user” (“De gebruiker centraal”), a topic that SAP has been struggling with for decades. SAP software is notorious for its lack of user friendliness. In the last few years there has been more focus on UX with products like SAP Fiori and SAP Personas.
However, at the conference opening already – Caspar Joustra, Managing Director SAP Netherlands in a dialog with Astrid Zwiers, chairman of the VNSG – proves that SAP still has trouble understanding their customers.
Caspar Joustra on SAP in 2014: “We made huge steps in user friendliness, consumption model and simplicity.”
Astrid Zwiers in reply: “I agree some steps have been made. I do think the end-user still should notice more of these steps.”
On top of that, poll results were fed back in real-time showing 43% of the audience answered: “I notice a little bit of progress.”
Apparently still lots of ground to cover for SAP.
Luckily for the (BI) user community, Just-BI is always ahead of the game in the latest product developments of SAP and is also pushing the boundaries of what is possible out-of-the-box and beyond. At our stand we demoed a slick portal page to showcase all the different SAP BI front-end tooling. Especially of interest were the standard Design Studio (DS) components getting beaten in a face-off with our Just-components built using the DS SDK. A charting component with zooming functionality, an enhanced table component with local search and filter capabilities and an HTML component which enables embedding of any piece of HTML into DS, just to name a few.
The conference itself was smaller and more quiet than previous years; the effects of the crisis can still be felt despite our Prime Minister’s mantra to spend, spend, spend. This year, the traffic to our demos was mainly generated by our stand-babe Yve and of course by our name and fame which stretches far beyond the outskirts of Maastricht.
What did contribute to our visibility as well, was the presentation given by my colleague Rad Parvin together with Remko van Uden from Shell, on advanced visualisations using Design Studio in combination with HANA XS showing amongst others the ESRI-integration (geo-maps) in HANA. It was standing room only demonstrating this to be a hot topic.
Next to that, lots of customers are still struggling with SAP’s confuse-and-conquer strategy on for example data warehousing ( HANA yes or no ) and front-end tooling ( should we implement Business Objects and if so, which tool to use? ). Immediate counter-question from our side: “What do you want to achieve / where do you want to go?” That is what it all boils down to: don’t get overwhelmed by the technology ( and marketing ) push but carefully evaluate which pieces of all this new technology can actually help in achieving your goals.
Outright inspiring was the keynote by Daan Roosegaarde, artist and innovator, who had an interesting take away for the audience: “If you have the guts to connect vision to craftsmanship and start realizing dreams, that’s when you evoke new markets. Then things get exciting. Then we can lift the world to a higher level.”
And on that bombshell… let’s meet again next year and see if we managed to “heal the world and make it a better place.”
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- Glenn Cheung