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Day & Zimmermann has a CEO who sports a BlackBerry, and at the same time there’s companywide need for iOS and Android device support. So when Day & Zimmermann went looking for platform flexibility for its mobile apps, SAP Fiori offered just that.
In 2013, the global firm, which specializes in construction, engineering, staffing and defense, embarked on a 250-person pilot of Fiori Timesheet and Requisition Approval apps to streamline the time collection and approval processes to corporate departments.
What Day & Zimmermann has discovered during the past few months is that its users loved the Fiori product, but the price—$150 per user, combined with additional licensing in some cases—is giving the company pause for thought.
“Fiori should be free, in my opinion,” says Sankara Viswanathan, VP of IT Applications at Day & Zimmermann. “It’s not new software. It’s just another UI to the same business function.”
Recently, the topic was put forth in a question to the SAP ecosystem by Bluefin consultant John Appleby, and it caused quite a stir: “Should Fiori be Freeori?”
SAP Fiori is a revolution for the vendor, which has a history of complex user interfaces, as well as an opportunity to shed its user-unfriendly image. Fiori is a collection of more than 150 applications that take some of the most broadly used transactions in the SAP Business Suite and expose them on clean, simple interfaces for mobile devices.
Customers can use the Fiori applications available currently with older technology, as far back as ECC 6 in some cases, though many new Fiori scenarios depend on newer releases, according to SAP. The Fiori Wave 1 apps (released at Sapphire Now last year) were transactional apps and are back portable. With Fiori Wave 2 apps (released at the end of 2013), SAP added some more transactional apps and also some analytical apps and fact sheets. The analytic and fact sheets have dependencies on SAP HANA, and these are the apps that are not in scope for back porting.
Fiori is not included in the cost of maintenance and support. In the past, UI upgrades have been included in SAP’s maintenance fees, instead of being sold as a separate product. Viswanathan recalls when SAP rolled out browser-based Webdynpros for a few ERP functions: “SAP didn’t sell it as a separate product. Why is Fiori a separate product?’
To Pay or Not to Pay
Viswanathan recognizes there was time and effort on SAP’s part in developing Fiori, but he also sees it as another “tool in the toolkit” instead of a new product. He says paying for innovation is reasonable, but the cost needs to balance against investment dollars spent annually for maintenance. If innovation replaces current business solutions then an approximate allowance or adjustment needs to be calculated.
“Several business application providers no longer charge [including SAP in a couple of its offerings] a separate license for consuming their applications on a mobile device,” Viswanathan says. “I am not sure if SAP should really charge a separate license fee just because Fiori can be consumed on a mobile device.”
With that line of thinking, many others are questioning SAP’s move to charge for Fiori.
“What do I get as a maintenance-paying customer?” asks Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller. “In the Fiori case, it’s not a new or different product with a different backend, so it should be free for maintenance paying customers.”
But is Fiori actually filling a role that didn’t previously exist for a company?
“Fiori is definitely bringing net-new functionality to mobile,” says SAP analyst Josh Greenbaum, of Enterprise Applications Consulting. “You would pay for that if you weren’t using mobile before, and SAP should get a license for that.”
Let’s Talk Adoption
But is that Fiori license cost—which may be justified in some cases, as Greenbaum points out—going to slow adoption?
That’s of great concern to SAP Labs Global Head of Design Sam Yen. His team makes products like Fiori not just for the fun of it—those products need to be used.
“My perspective is building out new experiences and adoption is key,” Yen says.
And would offering Fiori for free speed up adoption? Yen cautions against that notion, saying companies won’t be as likely to dive into implementing a product that did not come with a monetary investment.
Fiori’s Value to Enterprises
Fiori may be right for some users but not necessarily right for (and really, downright impossible cost-wise) to rollout to the 24,000 employees that Day & Zimmermann has.
Those one-transaction employees—for Day & Zimmerman that means workers who use an app to log time—bring more than just the Fiori cost when it comes to mobile. Viswanathan says he also must consider the cost of the mobile device and service, not to mention the original SAP product license that is being extended to mobile functionality.
Viswanathan sees where Yen is coming from—he has experience with companies being slow to rollout a product when there isn’t the motivation of money.
Greenbaum, however, points out that that shouldn’t be a worry for SAP if the product is good enough. “If Fiori can’t make a case for its value on its own merits,” he says, “then SAP is not doing a good enough job with Fiori.”
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