SAP enters low-code/no-code motherlode

SAP is many things.

It is a database company, it is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) company, it is a data analytics company, it is a User eXperience company, it is a financial software tools company and it is, of course, a cloud company.

But above all things, SAP is a platform company.

The German enterprise software company is now working to extend its Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung (SAP, get it?) expertise towards the low-code/no-code motherlode and tap into the new efficiencies that other large-scale tech players are working hard to try and make sure they table an offering for.

With Appian, Mendix, OutSystems, Zoho, Pega and Betty Blocks code minimalist purists having set something of an established trend, every tech vendor worth its salt is pushing to provide low-code/no-code tools in some form.

From the ‘me too’ copycats to the genuine innovators, the next stage of low-code/no-code development will be interesting… so what can SAP bring to the table?

The code gurus at SAP’s Walldorf HQ have (the last December 2020) tabled low-code/no-code tools, a free tier model for SAP Cloud Platform, free learning opportunities and updates to SAP Business Technology Platform

Could be code, or could be a click

Never shy of a long product brand name, SAP has said that SAP Cloud Platform Extension Suite allows developers to build and extend business applications, processes and innovations with clicks or code. 

The suite now offers three complementary and integrated process automation tools to address different skill levels and automation scenarios:

SAP Cloud Platform Workflow Management allows developers and business domain experts to gain process visibility and configure and automate enterprise workflows in a low-code approach. This technology includes predefined content packages and integration with Experience Management solutions from SAP and Qualtrics, combining operational and experience data.

The SAP Ruum solution allows business users with no coding skills to create departmental processes in what is claimed to be ‘hours’. About 50 SAP customers and partners have joined the beta program for SAP Ruum. 

SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation (RPA) 2.0 does gues what? Yep, it’s RPA from SAP in its second iteration. SAP loves us enough to give us prebuilt bot templates, but these only work (obviously) inside the SAP universe, so they are designed to drive efficiencies with SAP S/4HANA and 12-lines of business.

Juergen Mueller, chief technology officer and member of the SAP executive board has said that his firm’s SAP Business Technology Platform is built for integration scaleability-focused extension and – although there are non-developer tools on offer here – that SAP is underscoring its commitment to the developer community.

The SAP One Domain Model is a common data model for business objects. It now supports its first business objects for the end-to-end recruit-to-retire business process. More business objects for other end-to-end business processes will follow. 

SAP API Business Hub

Developers can access these through the SAP Graph software beta offering or SAP API Business Hub

Finally here, the redesigned user experience for SAP API Business Hub helps make it easier for architects and experts to identify relevant integration content, such as APIs and events, integration packs and user documentation. 

So then… plenty to dig into. As always with SAP, the product set is so vast that the company can only really provide a broad-brush overview for any coding tool announcement like this. If truth be told, SAP already had a whole smorgasbord of short-cuts, reference template, industry accelerator components and other technologies designed to fast-track users towards their software architecture ambitions. In this regard then, we might even suggest that the SAP platform already had a number of low-code/no-code functions within it… but this is certainly the formalisation (and extension) of those efforts for the state of modern software play.

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