SAP wants to turn business technologists into builders

The good news for CIOs who want to enable domain experts to build their own applications to solve business problems is that there are plenty of low-code development platforms to choose from. The bad news: There is a huge choice of platforms.

So CIOs might have mixed feelings about SAP releasing yet another low-code development platform at this week’s Tech Ed developer conference in this crowded market.

Gartner calls the potential adopters of all of these low-code development platforms “business technologists” — people whose responsibilities include building technology solutions, not just leveraging the tools IT provides them with.

“Smart CIOs are looking for ways to leverage these capabilities, and that often involves using low-code platforms to enable faster solution delivery,” said Dennis Gaughan, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “But one of their main concerns is trying to avoid a massive proliferation of low-code tools that introduce management and governance challenges.”

SAP’s new platform, SAP Build, aims to give business technologists – or builders as SAP calls them – secure access to business processes and data to extend enterprise applications and automate processes via a drag-and-drop interface , while CIOs can manage that access .

“Using something like SAP Build gives them a platform that builds on existing investments in SAP and provides a more centralized mechanism for managing and controlling the applications being built by technologists across the enterprise,” Gaughan added.

Bernhard Schaffrik, Principal Analyst at Forrester, reiterated the point that SAP Build provides easy access to data, applications and structures from the SAP world.

But no matter how simple the low-code platforms a company adopts, CIOs still need to make sure users understand some of the complexity that lies behind them, he said. “Critically, business developers need to be educated and educated about the implications of building and running applications and automations in terms of architecture, compliance, IT and information security,” said Schaffrik.

Build the three pillars

SAP Build is not entirely new as the build name used to refer to a user interface prototyping service. Build is now a full end-to-end development environment and includes elements of legacy offerings including SAP Launchpad, a single point of access to internal and third-party application extensions, and AppGyver, the no-code development platform provider acquired by SAP in February 2021. The name AppGyver will now disappear from the SAP environment, said SAP’s head of low-code and no-code products, Sebastian Schroetel.

Build also includes Work Zone, a role-based web and workflow content. The name lives on as a build tool for creating pages, editing menus, and adding UI integration cards. Work Zone is one of the three pillars of Build, Schroetel said. The others are Build Apps and Build Process Automation.

SAP has been testing Build internally and at Qualtrics, the customer experience company in which SAP has a majority stake, Schroetel added. SAP’s talent recruitment team used Build Process Automation to speed up the headcount approval process, he said.

The new low-code platform shares some features with SAP’s pro-code development tools: both are built on the Business Technology Platform, SAP’s data management layer, and share the same API hub, allowing business technologists and professional developers within of a company allows to work together.

The salvaged name isn’t the only thing that might give business technologists déjà vu: Last year, SAP CTO Jurgen Müller spoke of a unified low-code, no-code experience created by the merger of AppGyver Composer and SAP Business Application was created in Studio.

This year, SAP continues that merger by adding more features and simplifying the user interface. Build works with non-SAP systems and allows, for example, to automate processes in cloud-based productivity suites. The SAP Build process automation pillar also includes capabilities from Signavio, a business process intelligence tool acquired around the same time as AppGyver, which provides insight into existing processes and customized recommendations for simplifying and optimizing them.

Prices per user

Another area where SAP is hoping for simplification is pricing. SAP Build will be available as a subscription starting at €1,000 per month for 25 active users, with additional user licenses starting at €18 per active user per month, a company spokesman said.

However, SAP Build will not be the only answer to all low-code needs, not even to the needs of every SAP shop.

“Anytime you try to standardize on a single platform for development, you have to make compromises,” said Gartner’s Gaughan. Compared to SAP’s cumbersome approach, “smaller, independent low-code vendors that have been doing this for a while and are solely focused on low-code may be able to add new features faster,” he added.

Since the uptake of such independent platforms depends on their ability to connect to other products, they may also have more integrations with other applications and processes, but they probably won’t be able to connect to SAP applications as deeply as they do build

Forrester’s Schaffrik noted that SAP Build is as open to extensions as most other low-code development and automation platforms, but cautioned, “The devil is in the details, so I recommend decision makers to carefully consider what they’re building on.” on ‘openness’ of a platform.” For Gaughan, it’s not about choosing one development platform over another. “Ultimately, I think a lot of big companies will have multiple low-code tools in their toolbox,” he said, “and I suspect that for existing SAP customers, Build will likely be a core part of their low-code strategy.” .”

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