At an online SAP TechEd conference this week, SAP announced it has added additional low-code/no-code tools to the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) to enable both professional and citizen developers to build applications that invoke application services provided via the company’s cloud platform.
The effort to increase the number of custom applications invoking those services revolves around a no-code development and automation platform dubbed SAP AppGyver, launched this week, and an existing set of low-code tools dubbed SAP Business Application Studio that the company also enhanced. SAP Process Automation, a robotic process automation (RPA) platform for automating workflows, is also being previewed.
JG Chirapurath, chief marketing and solutions officer for SAP BTP, said the goal is to make it easier for organizations to build applications faster using tools that provide higher layers of abstraction through which they can invoke, for example, backend RPA and AI services via an application programming interface (API). SAP makes it possible to achieve that goal via an SAP BTP platform it provides to IT teams. The BTP platform allows teams to build applications that can be integrated with SAP application services running on a public cloud or managed by SAP on behalf of the customer. In either case, the goal is to make it possible for developers to spend more time building business logic versus building and maintaining integrations, he said.
As part of the effort, new capabilities were also added to the SAP Conversational AI service and the company has promised to launch a personalized recommendation service based on a neural network.
At the same time, the company also revealed it has updated the SAP Integration Suite for SAP BTP to provide access to additional prepacked integrations that are available on the SAP API Business Hub.
In addition, the company said by the end of this year it plans to make the SAP Integration Suite available on the Google Cloud Platform alongside support it provides for other public clouds.
Finally, a revamped training site, dubbed SAP Learning, will make it simpler for developers to advance their skills.
The challenge SAP application developers are trying to navigate is determining which business processes are best served using packaged cloud applications versus ones that require actual customer code. The number of processes packaged in a suite of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications has greatly expanded over time. With each successive update, ERP platform providers such as SAP identify new processes that could be beneficial to the bulk of their customers. For example, the processes that organizations use to track invoices and issue payments are all pretty much the same. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to write a custom application to manage a set of tasks that are already well-defined within a packaged application.
Custom application development is typically where organizations have an opportunity to differentiate themselves. After all, if every organization is relying on the same core processes provided by a packaged application vendor, there is no real difference from one organization to the next. Custom applications, on the other hand, built using no-code or low-code tools or procedural code written by developers, should either be used to extend a workflow in some way an application doesn’t or should be used to create an application that provides a sustainable competitive advantage. That challenge—and the opportunity—is first identifying those processes and then finding the simplest way to build and maintain the applications that drive them.