SAP’s Adrian Simpson: Usability key for enterprise mobility in 2014

According to SAP UK & Ireland chief innovation officer Adrian Simpson, the future of enterprise is not just about the mobile platform, but more on UX.

Ovum has recently released its enterprise mobility predictions for 2014, with three key hallmarks: the move for business towards full mobile-first; the necessity to update corporate mobility policies; and proclaiming 2014 to be “the year of mobile enterprise apps”.

Simpson, whose remit involves talking up SAP’s mobile strategy in an external-facing role, agreed with the majority of this but with a small caveat.

“It’s actually about the user experience as a whole, and mobile is one of those mediums,” Simpson noted.

“But what I would predict for next year is that the focus on usability of applications becomes much more prevalent in the marketplace, and customers are not going to be happy dealing with the screens they’ve been dealing with for the last 10, 15, 20 years.

“They want to have a consumer grade experience, and mobile is absolutely one of the key drivers of that – but it’s not the only one,” he added.

This of course shades the consumerisation of IT phenomenon – when people go to work, they want the consumer experience translated to their workplace.

The idea of enterprise apps being beautiful is a long-established one – and opinion has been stark on the topic, with Infor CEO Charles Phillips famously saying enterprise software “sucks” at his event’s keynote back in April.

SAP failed to escape Phillips’ wrath, with the former Marine observing that the product “looks like it was designed in the 80s...it hasn’t changed much in a long time, yet it’s the most popular enterprise software in the world.”

Simpson understandably contested this view, saying that SAP had “made great strides” with its user interface strategy on three phases: new, renew and enable.

“We’ve already got a whole load of screens and transactions that people are using, how we can make those more usable and beautiful to experience,” Simpson noted, “and equally, we’re bringing new functionality – so actually we can, with new user experience, make it beautiful from the start.

“And then the third part, the enable, is saying if SAP is doing it, we should allow our customers and partners to have exactly the same tools in an organisation to develop their content to the same standard, the same grade,” he added.

It’s been an important year for SAP, with the release of in-memory enterprise database HANA being a huge bet.

How so? It’s the database that will deliver all of SAP’s products and capabilities in the future – and Simpson notes that it’s been the fastest growing product in the company’s 40 year history, so something’s going right.

“I think we’re looking forward to ending the year on a strong note,” Simpson said.

“As a company overall, in the UK, it’s tough trading at the moment, but equally we’ve proven with our results – particularly the Q3 numbers – that we’re getting the right message out to our customers, and they’re understanding how we can bring innovation and bring technologies into their organisations.”

Do you agree with Adrian Simpson’s view of the enterprise mobility landscape in 2014?

 

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