Building a better SAP UX using custom app development platforms

3 September 2019 | 207 Shares

Businesses in the modern economy need to be agile and nimble, and should be able to position and reposition themselves according to market signals. Doing this is not a mere luxury afforded to a few, but a strategic imperative for every business in the digital age. And, constant change in processes that reflect unique business goals and objectives also means regular updates, customizations, and tweaking of business applications for enhanced operational efficiency.

However, app development, especially for a mature enterprise business system such as SAP, could be unnecessarily costly and time-consuming, which could potentially lock-up a business’s valuable resources. But before venturing into any app building exercise, companies need to ask themselves why they are developing an app, a service or an adjustment, and how they could benefit from it. Regardless of why and how, ultimately, what they are seeking to build should first and foremost solve business problems. In addition to that, these apps must also enhance the user experience, may it be for business leaders, operations personnel, or customers. Further, the app should also dismantle all the information silos to, and integrate information from, all disparate systems.

Of all the different ERP providers in the market, SAP has proven to be the most powerful of them all in genuinely delivering business value. The system is deployed to practically all business units and areas in an enterprise, including finance, logistics, and marketing among others. However, many organizations deploy SAP together with other packages and solutions, not necessarily because SAP alone is incapable.

Maybe one of the other systems may be better at performing a specific task, or was acquired by the company at a fire sale much earlier, or it was just cheaper option at some point. Regardless of how the existence of multiple systems and solutions came about, there exists a sizeable market and need for integrating software with SAP, via Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) stacks, Point-to-Point Direct Integration with SAP interfaces, or via unifying platforms such as Neptune (see below).

It has become more evident in recent times that the people best suited to create and implement intersystem automation, workflow processes and custom dashboards are the people “at the coalface” – the employees themselves that are involved in daily operations. However, these professionals are not from an IT background, and have little to no coding knowledge. The rise of low-code and no-code development platforms – with drag and drop interface and intuitive and business-friendly commands – have empowered non-IT professionals to develop interfaces between SAP and other systems, facilitating data interchange. With big ERPs, that low-code/no-code approach can be used to extend and automate for large systems, like Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, and others as well.

In a way, the low-code and no-code platforms have in effect empowered a whole host of non-IT or “citizen developers” to becoming data heroes, accelerating innovations while deploying solutions in an interconnected and agile manner.

However, the task of picking the right low-code platform could be understandably tricky, given how crowded the market currently is. Thus, Tech Wire Asia has reduced the choice down to three that companies might consider. Though these providers are unique in their way, each one of them can deliver the custom app, adjustment, adjunct or full service that will not only provide a business solution but a quick return on little investment.

NEPTUNE SOFTWARE

With over two million active users across 40 countries, Neptune Software is a clear front runner when it comes to providing a low-code custom app development platform.

The company’s Neptune DX Platform not only helps businesses utilize their data to build apps which help drive process efficiency but it also provides unified working experiences that can easily tie all the disparate systems together in the enterprise’s IT environment.

Neptune Software and its Neptune DX platform is unique in that it’s comprised of a two-module approach— one build entirely to support SAP systems and their integration needs (the only low-code platform to do so), and a second that supports a multi-system approach.

While most low-code platforms can build simple applications with ease, many will struggle with handling complexity. The Neptune Software DX Platform has proven— among a raft of top Fortune 500 customers— that it can handle complexity at scale, with high performance while addressing SSO and other authentication complexities.

Neptune’s Planet 8 module is an SAP-certified app development platform specifically designed for organizations that utilize SAP, from NetWeaver 7.0 to S4/HANA. The module allows companies to design, develop, integrate and deploy SAP Fiori apps in a fraction of the time it takes to do so with other platforms while enriching them with functionality such as data compression and encryption, stateful and stateless locking, and offline and full mobile capabilities. The end result is a faster and more sustainable delivery of desktop, mobile and offline solutions.

Having a separate module just for SAP sets Neptune DXP apart as the only low-code platform that can work from the inside out of SAP, being directly in touch with existing ABAP source code. Competitive platforms rely on integration via RFC, or oData services, which comes with inherent limitations when it comes to handling complex transactions.

Planet 8 eliminates the need to procure additional hardware and software and helps companies leverage their existing SAP processes and tools to further enhance operational efficiency and address user experience gap in a standardized, yet flexible architecture.

For more information on the Neptune’s Planet 8, click here. For non-SAP and multiple technology system users that want to integrate anything from legacy stacks to the latest cloud solutions with your SAP backends, click here to learn about Planet 9 module.

ZOHO CREATOR

A member of Zoho’s productivity ecosystem, Zoho Creator is an app which helps businesses to build specific web tools. Being low code, the platform comes standard with a plethora of customization tools that could be utilized with intuitive drag-and-drop interface which enables users to create custom business applications. These, among other things, help with data collection, optimize organizational or personal workflows, and other business-specific tasks.

Loaded with user-friendly features and host of innovative tools, the platform empowers employees and business leaders with little to no programming skills to build solutions, custom reports and dashboards as well as automate routine but crucial business processes. Users can also participate in Zoho’s large community of independent developers and service vendors, and benefit from external expertise.

With Zoho Creator, companies can create multiple apps and share information between them, thanks to next-generation pre-built integration tools with Zoho services which include CRM, HRM, Books, and Invoice, or opt to deploy the Deluge Script to link popular services such as Paypal, Salesforce, Quickbooks and Zapier, to name a few.

Further, companies do not need to worry about security and uptime when they deploy Zoho Creator, as the fully integrated platform protects companies’ data with the strictest of security protocols, and frequent backups & updates.

OUTSYSTEMS

Boston-based OutSystems is another low-code platform provider that aims to speed up innovation as well as deliver real, impactful business value. The company, much like the other two vendors above, understand that while SAP systems are inherently robust, they are not necessarily known for their excellent user experience.

At the same time, the company is also aware that user-friendly and intuitive experience is paramount when creating new channels for customers or providing the necessary tools for employees. With OutSystems, companies deploying SAP could fill the user-experience gap, to boost customer engagement and workforce productivity.

The development tool is mostly drag-and-drop GUI, but the highly versatile platform allows users to alter their work at the micro level by modifying the code, using various coding languages such as C#, HTML, JavaScript, and SQL.

The platform also features a one-click publishing function as well as one-click vetting and submission processes for quick acceptance into the Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store, and there is no need for additional package handlers.

Companies can automate the traditional DevOps progress of staging, testing, and rollout, while having complete control and visibility of the entire journey. Detailed reporting of the app’s performance also allows companies to tweak and improve continuously.

*Some of the companies featured are commercial partners of TechHQ