SAP Fiori: How It Started and Where It’s Going

SAP Fiori has come a long way since its introduction to the marketplace over half a decade ago.

Because of its journey, there are some misconceptions SAP Fiori. When we talk about it today, we are referring to a comprehensive design system for enterprise software.

SAP Fiori provides a set of components and patterns that can be reused in different combinations and includes descriptions and guidance regarding usage, visual design, copy, tone of voice, and integration. Although the design system spans multiple technologies, platforms, and interaction modes, it is important to remember that everything within SAP Fiori adheres to the same design values, principles, and practices.

But how did we get to today’s SAP Fiori? It is an enterprise design story of solving a big problem step-by-step, taking a pragmatic approach, and evolving what works.

1, 2, and 3

If you recently heard the term SAP Fiori 3, you might have wondered about its previous iterations. At its inception, SAP Fiori was a collection of applications with a specific design, so there actually never was an SAP Fiori “1” per se. It was “just” SAP Fiori, a pragmatic way to start solving a very big problem, namely that the user experience of SAP software was too complex and the number of applications and technologies daunting.

With dozens of technologies and hundreds of thousands of screens, this was indeed a hard-to-solve problem. Because the initial applications of SAP Fiori focused on mobile-first scenarios, the aim of its next evolution was to apply the SAP Fiori design to full-blown, hard-core enterprise resource planning (ERP) scenarios. And now we are moving to the next stage, which is the application of its design system to all SAP products across the Intelligent Enterprise.

To support the development and adoption of SAP Fiori, many resources are provided to designers and developers, such as guidelines, SAP Fiori elements, SAP Fiori fundamentals, the SAP Fiori apps reference library as well as SAP Fiori Makers, a virtual community call series for design-minded SAP partners to showcase app designs and present insights.

First a Few, Then Many

The quest to redesign and redefine the user experience of SAP applications began with four user roles and included 25 of the most widely used SAP scenarios, like approving leave and travel requests, creating sales orders, and tracking purchase orders. Every beginning is difficult and what might seem like baby steps today was in fact a huge undertaking. In retrospect, the remarkable thing is that SAP Fiori did what it was intended to do — begin a user experience revolution for SAP and for enterprise software.

In May 2013, SAP announced the launch of “a collection of apps that are simple, easy-to-use, and provide an intuitive user experience for broadly and frequently used SAP software functions, across a variety of devices — desktop, tablet, smartphone — to help easily get the job done.” One year and one week after the initial launch, SAP announced the availability of over 300 SAP Fiori apps. The following year, the number of SAP Fiori apps would grow to over 500. The excitement about SAP Fiori was spreading throughout the company and, most importantly, among the customer base.

And Then Something Unexpected Happened

During the process of evolving the SAP Fiori user experience to accommodate more complex scenarios, the design team made a video showcasing how SAP Fiori simplifies the creation of a sales order entry, a classically complex ERP scenario. The team submitted the video to the 2015 Red Dot Design Awards, the gold standard of product design awards. To everyone’s delight, the team won the design concept award, confirming SAP was heading in the right direction.

As we built SAP Fiori into our flagship product, SAP S/4HANA, we were able to show customers at SAPPHIRE NOW 2016 how it brought the power of ERP together with a modern and simple design. Better use of space, improved page types and navigation mechanisms, and a more flexible homepage were introduced to better support the needs of enterprise users.

Consistent, Integrated, and Intelligent

Because from the beginning SAP Fiori applied modern concepts and design principles that delight users and enable them to more easily get their work done, SAP decided to elevate SAP Fiori beyond just a discrete set of apps alongside core software. In 2016, SAP announced that SAP Fiori would be the design system for all products going forward.

As SAP Fiori evolves and expands its reach, our aim continues to be to support users with the best experience possible. To do this, SAP has crystalized three priorities: consistency, integration, and intelligence.