SAP's software is known for its role running many of the world's largest companies, but not necessarily for its user-friendliness. As part of an ongoing effort to change this perception, SAP unveiled Fiori, a set of 25 lightweight "consumer-friendly" applications that can run on desktops, tablets and mobile devices, on Wednesday at the Sapphire conference in Orlando.
Fiori applications are written in HTML5, which makes multiplatform deployments possible. They also target some of the most common business processes a user might perform, such as creating sales orders or getting their travel expenses approved, according to SAP's announcement.
SAP has grouped the initial Fiori applications into four separate employee types, including manager, sales representative, employee and purchasing agent. Fiori is priced per user and available now, but specific costs weren't disclosed Wednesday.
It's possible to deploy Fiori as a single group of applications, as well as separate Web applications and within portals, according to a statement.
Some 250 customers helped SAP develop Fiori and make the apps more user-friendly, SAP said.
SAP has basically been compelled to develop something like Fiori, according to one observer.
"Customers want enterprise-class apps with consumer-grade experiences," said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research. "Fiori is one of the ways SAP customers can pull the data out of their existing systems, and democratize that information so that everyone can benefit from access to the SAP system."
"For years, the issue was that SAP data was hidden or not easily accessed," Wang added. "This is one small step to make that change."
SAP's App Haus, a startup-like development group within the company, has been working to create more usable and appealing application interfaces. It wasn't immediately clear Wednesday whether the App Haus team is involved with Fiori.
The vendor has also launched a product called Screen Personas, which gives users the ability to rejigger SAP software screens to better fit their job role and personal preferences.
There's plenty more to come, SAP co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe said during a keynote Wednesday.
"We've come a long way from the old SAP GUI," he said. "The challenge is clear. We are no longer benchmarking against some other business software, because most of them are not very beautiful. We are benchmarking against consumer software. We're committed to providing the most exciting user experience in the industry."
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com