Enterpriseyness the final sequel or my secret demo weapon exposed

I have decided  to share my secret demo weapon with you today,  partly because it ties into to the process-UI theme that I’ve been discussing in recent posts

It is also time I found a new secret weapon.

The GUI issue is one I have been battling here at SAP since I joined in 1995, and it was a factor behind doing the start up thing in 2000.    I suppose much of my work career has been spent competing with applications that look “sexier” than SAP does.

I wrote sometime ago about my Italian experience with GUIs.

As a presales guy, I have been on the receiving end of SAP’s clumsy GUIs for years. Time and time again, customers would tell me, SAP has the functionality, but PeopleSoft is prettier and sexy.

The best response to this was from an Italian  guy who wanted to buy SAP, but his US boss wanted PeopleSoft.

He said:”boss, in italy women she is sexy. in italy, some cars, like ferrari she is sexy, but graphical user interfaces, she is not sexy”

The room echoed with laughter and SAP won the deal. Grazie..

I also think that customer and partner GUI innovations will help kick GUI butt here.  But it is more than a GUI thing. It is a design thing.  We have hired some bright folks from diverse places like eBay and Apple, and there is a new design mentality starting to seep in here.  The consumer stuff is relevant, and we would be mad to dismiss  or underestimate its impact on the enterprise space.

This video clip was sent to me by a chap in the HR IT department at a customer a few years ago. His HR director had asked him to go and get some e-HR.  He used the video  to explain why putting a cool front end on an old process and system spagetti doesn’t help.  It creates an expectation that the process can’t deliver on.  Eat the broccoli before the ice cream. It also explains why you can’t just give a messed up process to an outsourcer and expect miracles.

I use this a lot. It means I have to talk less.

Prospects tend to expect death by powerpoint from SAP, and this never fails to get a laugh.  In fact, with this video I don’t need any powerpoints. 

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5 thoughts on “Enterpriseyness the final sequel or my secret demo weapon exposed”

  1. Hah, Norwegian technology I see! (said the proud Norwegian expat 😉 )

    “…putting a cool front end on an old process and system spagetti doesn’t help” – true, true indeed.

    I wonder if I’m onto something when I usually say (from own experience) that the back-end, the database and even the programming language eventually will seep through to the surface… I think so…

    Add that enterprise systems have a middle layer of age-old management philosophy on top of often some quirky back-end – then no Ajaxy-rounded-corners-and-cool-colour-schemes can save the day.

    Messy stuff + more messy stuff + layer-of-neatness = eh? Nah…

  2. Nice clip! Way back when I used the physical office analogy. Everyone shows up to work and receives a set of resources – desk, chair, stapler, phone, computer, monitor, pens, notepads etc. Some items are attached to one place and can’t be moved but others can.

    Look around your office. Everyone has their physical space arranged to suit them. Lots of patterns and similarities emerge but each person has modified something about their working environment to suit them.

    Enterprise apps can provide the same flexibility. Give me modules around a framework with some items that I can’t move and I’ll arrange what moves to suit my particular needs and style.

    A skilled designer understands this and delivers the common patterns, but in a workplace over over 300,000 people it’s guaranteed that we won’t get it right for everyone and it’s crazy to think we can.

    I like sig’s bit about the back end seeping through. If the underlying tool doesn’t work, UI doesn’t matter. A beautiful but non-functional stapler that doesn’t work gets thrown in a drawer and an ugly but functional one stays on the desk.

  3. After the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Oakland, was detremined to be seimically un-fit should another “big one” hit the bay area. They had two options – to refit or redesign. The refit would be too costly and aesthetically innappropriate. They decided to redesign the bridge. This was a long proocess that required political, technical and aesthetic compromise to achieve the end goal. The result was a good one (the process was painful and wasteful). This effort transcended the purely aesthetic having to balance the business, technical and user needs in order to create a useful, usable and desirable result and it just happens that it is somewhat sexy too- this is design. I bet they even use SAP software to manage the revenue they will generate from the tolls that they charge or maybe they choose something sexier…

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