The conference season for this year is almost at an end. But it’s not complete without the annual UK & Ireland SAP User Group Conference, held this year in Birmingham, from Sunday 24 to Tuesday 26 Nov. With a range of exhibitors and attendees, from customers, partners, consultancies and more, it always makes for an interesting time with wide-ranging topics. It’s different from SAP TechEd in that the focus is less on technology and platform and more on the customer.
But this is exactly where the Demo Jam competition this year took me – the intersection between customer and technology, in other words, the user experience (UX).
The Demo Jam is an event within this conference and other conferences (such as SAP TechEd) where there are a series of teams giving short sharp bursts of presentation. There are simple rules: Live, no slides, and over in 5 mins. And a winner is voted by the audience with the help of a “clapometer”. It’s a bit of fun, but also has a serious side to it: The aim is to wow the audience with something relevant.
This year there were four teams due to participate but unfortunately one had to drop out at the last minute. To cut a long story short, I got a call on the Friday before the Sunday conference start asking if I could step in, put something together and take the place of the team that had dropped out.
Already with fairly full plans for the weekend, I found some space on Sunday (I was only going to be attending the conference on Monday) and thought about what I could do. With my current work at the SAP Mothership (i.e. Walldorf) with the SAPUI5 / Fiori teams, the answer came quite quickly: Show the audience what makes SAP Fiori apps tick, what’s under the hood … by building an SAP Fiori-like UI live on stage in 5 mins.
An updated version of an old TV / stage adage goes something like this:
“Never work with children or animals, or do live coding, unless you’re a fool”.
Being a fool, and with no children or animals around, I went for the third option and wrote XML in front of hundreds of people, instantiating SAPUI5 controls and building an SAP Fiori-like app before their eyes (classic design – master/detail showing sales orders and details). It was made slightly more “interesting” than it might otherwise have been by the fact that my hands were really cold, and fingers inflexible (I’d recently arrived and it had been very cold outside) – not ideal for typing under pressure.
The key thing I wanted to get across was that there was no mystery around SAP Fiori; apps are created from building blocks like everything else – in this case building blocks in the SAPUI5 framework. It’s important to help folks understand what Fiori is, what it isn’t, and what it might be. A major part (but by no means the entire part) of what it is … is a set of applications built in an outside-in fashion using a modern UI framework (SAPUI5) that has a super design pedigree and which for its young age is extremely accomplished already.
The majority of the audience had heard of Fiori, which was great, and hopefully after my Demo Jam entry they understand a little bit more of what makes Fiori apps tick, and are better armed to ask the right questions and make the right decisions.
I was totally honoured to be part of Demo Jam this year, the other entries were great (everything from immersive virtual reality with big data, through automated training solutions to compliance systems) but perhaps largely due to eddies in the space time continuum, I won!
In a way, the fact that I only had a few hours to come up with something and prepare my entry made it quite a fun experience … and I’m already looking forward to seeing the entries next year!