Bowing to pressure from customers and competitors, SAP will provide a series of recently released, next-generation user interface technologies at no extra charge.
Screen Personas and Fiori will now be included with SAP software licenses, while customers who already bought the products will get a credit they can use as part of future purchases, SAP said Tuesday at the Sapphire user conference in Orlando.
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Fiori is a rapidly growing set of lightweight, mobile-friendly applications based on common processes from SAP's flagship Business Suite, while Screen Personas gives users the ability to rejigger Business Suite screens to suit their liking or job role.
In recent months, SAP user groups agitated publicly for both products to be free, citing SAP's poor track record over the past couple of decades with respect to the user experience.
SAP initially held steadfast against the criticism. But newly minted sole CEO Bill McDermott may have since decided that a high-profile concession on pricing could put a signature initial stamp on his tenure.
"Some customers as well as our user groups said SAP shouldn't charge for [Fiori and Screen Personas]," McDermott said during a keynote address Tuesday. "You know what? I agree."
Fiori now covers 300 of the most-used processes in the Business Suite and reduces keystrokes by 75 percent, McDermott said.
SAP isn't leaving all the money on the table, as it will offer customers design and implementation services they can use to adopt Fiori and Screen Personas, according to Tuesday's announcement.
Fiori will be "the new [user experience] for SAP software" across multiple types of devices, according to a statement. Screen Personas, meanwhile, will be blended into SAP GUI for HTML, which is aimed at casual users.
In addition, SAP executive Sam Yen has been appointed chief design officer of the company.
User groups such as DSAG (German-Speaking SAP User Group) had argued that the user interface improvements should have been included as part of the annual maintenance fees customers already pay.
"SAP has recognized that attractive surfaces are an important trend among users and this must be served within maintenance expenditures," DSAG board member Andreas Oczko said in an emailed statement Tuesday. "Now SAP customers can evaluate whether SAP Fiori and Screen Personas are suitable for their business or not, without having to take into consideration additional licensing costs. "
The announcement is good news for SAP customers, said Philip Adams, chairman of the UK and Ireland SAP User Group, in a statement. "A survey we've just run showed the vast majority of organizations expected Fiori to be provided as part of maintenance and that additional licenses would put them off using it. With companies paying up to 22% in support and maintenance fees this isn't surprising."