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Compelling user experience with iOS mobile sales: “for people who create”

Main Image 28 February 2017

FunderMax is one of Europe’s leading suppliers of derived timber products and decorative laminates. As a leader in innovation, the Austrian company will soon launch the use of iOS Apps to support their sales teams. FunderMax offers materials that combine beauty with tangible quality - boasting an extensive product range which enables new design freedom, and leaves no limits to the creativity of architects, designers and for the furniture industry as a whole.

Committed to digital transformation, FunderMax – a pioneering user of SAP and the HANA in-memory database – has made considerable progress in efficient, automated production processes. With last year’s announcement of the Apple – SAP alliance for building iOS applications on the SAP Cloud Platform (SCP), the company saw the opportunity for an innovative mobile sales application, to create a compelling user experience and, in fact, to transform the entire sales process.

Rather than waiting for the general availability in March 2017 of the Software Development Kit (SDK), FunderMax (with help from Atos) sketched out a preliminary design for SAP’s “early adopters” program. When the company was chosen as one of the ten participants in this elite program, FunderMax and Atos moved swiftly into action.

Focus first on the user experience

As a company with a designer mindset and a customer-centric culture, FunderMax chose to start with the creation of a compelling experience for sales, architects, dealers, partners, fabricators and the entire industry.

For bringing mobility to business processes, especially sales, starting with user experience is in fact recognized “best practice”. As a 451 Research report, commissioned by SAP, in 2016 states:

"We cannot overstate the importance of the user experience... Organizations need to shift their focus… to an integrated approach that looks first at the mobile end-user experience and backtracks from there to integrate all the elements that contribute to this experience."

From vision to digital business reality

To grasp the scope of the company’s mobile sales ambitions, we need a quick look at the current process. FunderMax has a small direct sales force but also sells indirectly through tens of thousands of partners worldwide.

Attractive, real-life samples collections are the basic sales tools (see photo at the top of this post as an example), designed with creativity, innovation and deep understanding of selling to architects, partners, dealers and fabricators.

Now, FunderMax is innovating again, this time in mobile sales with iOS.

In the first two phases of the mobile sales app, the samples folder for exteriors will be digitalized and all products and options will be included and accessible during the sales process.

Using different filter criteria such as color and surface, a set of facades or decors can be selected and then individually displayed as beautiful full screen images, with easy access to useful product information. Taking this idea even further, the app will allow salespeople to show buildings around the world that use FunderMax materials.

While the first phases of the mobile sales project already represent tremendous progress in user experience, Phase 3 is going to make it a killer app!

Using examples of different types of buildings (see photo below), the application dynamically will display images – in stunning 3D – showing how the building would look with a particular FunderMax product from different viewpoints, in different locations and external circumstances, like weather (sun, snow etc.) … and even at different times of the day or night. The result is not only aesthetically engaging but also eminently useful for making a profoundly important creative decision.

FunderMax would like to go further by including architectural plans of the client’s own building into the application to create an entirely personalized experience.

Digital technology enablers

For this sort of application, FunderMax requires cutting-edge technology from SAP and Apple, combined with the development and implementation expertise of Atos.

Many users of SAP Cloud Platform (SCP) have developed mobile apps, with “hybrid” front-ends on iPhones and iPads, and the mobile back-end on SCP. These applications cannot take advantage of everything that iOS offers and they don’t provide the fluid user interface that only native iOS applications can provide.

To create a compelling mobile user experience, FunderMax and Atos are developing an iOS “native” front-end, based on Apple’s SDK for SCP. Powerful features of iOS like GPS, camera, integration of Apple Maps, and Push Notifications are key for the project.

SAP also provided a key front-end component: the Fiori for iOS design language based on SAP Fiori UX, including reusable design components and building blocks to accelerate consistent, beautiful UI design.

In the case of FunderMax, the new application (on the back-end) primarily uses SCP as a “digital hub”: data needed from enterprise systems (typically on-premise) use well defined APIs and all data is channeled through the tightly controlled SAP Cloud Connector.

Overall, developers also benefit from SCP’s well-proven capabilities to accelerate the iterative “develop to deploy” cycle of agile, cloud-native applications.

Digital innovation can never stop

In this post, I’ve just sketched out how this remarkable new mobile sales application from FunderMax will create a truly compelling user experience “for people who create”.

Of course, the company may choose to go further (and I’m just speculating here) in greater integration with order processing systems or even exploiting data with HANA’s advanced analytics and machine learning. In any case, FunderMax has once again demonstrated its innovative market leadership.

Still, the digital transformation is a work in progress, for everyone. As FunderMax well knows, to stay at the top, innovation can never stop.

Martin Gruber, Digital transformation and innovation business evangelist, Global SAP Center of Excellence

Photo credits: FunderMax, Atos