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Becoming a Mobile Enterprise: Unwiring Your Business with SAP's Mobile Solutions

by Jack Chawla | SAPinsider

January 1, 2011

How can companies best meet the growing demands of their mobile workforces? They must design an enterprise mobility strategy that encompasses both mission-critical and productive mobile applications. This article highlights how SAP is working to enable mobility for its customers and provides an overview of several key mobility tools and offerings, including the Sybase Unwired Platform and SAP’s Enterprise Mobile Services.
 

Enterprise information is on the move. Today, there is one mobile phone per two people on the earth. In many countries, there are more mobile devices than PCs.1 And more and more workers are using smartphones and other devices to stay connected — and productive — in and out of the office. In fact, according to IDC, by 2013, more than 1.2 billion workers worldwide will be using mobile technology, accounting for 34.9% of the workforce.2

A couple of trends have led to this mobility surge, making mobile computing critical for IT:

  • On the applications side — Companies like Apple and Google, when launching their respective smartphones, won consumers over with fun, easy-to-use mobile applications and easy information access.
  • On the device side — Companies historically rejected employee requests to use personal mobile devices for accessing the corporate network, citing security and manageability concerns. But things have changed over the past two years. Devices are now more manageable, and businesses hurting from the current economic climate are much more willing to allow employees to use their personal mobile devices for work purposes. In fact, nearly 80% of the Fortune 100 companies today are now “deploying or piloting” the iPhone.3

These trends not only drove the increased demand for mobile solutions; they also changed people’s expectations for mobile applications. Business users are no longer just looking for mobile access to traditional, mission-critical applications — customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, for instance. Rather, they’re seeking what we call productive mobile applications, which are more like consumer applications than traditional enterprise applications; they’re persistent, lightweight, and purpose-driven. These applications are designed to meet the needs of mobile, multi-tasking workers who will use and dispose of the applications after they have fulfilled their specific purpose.

To accommodate these trends and their business users’ changing needs, companies must design an enterprise mobility strategy that encompasses both traditional, mission-critical mobile applications and productive mobile applications.4 This is an opportunity that companies should not ignore. 

With its recent acquisition of Sybase, SAP is ready to support customers as they move to this new level of mobility. In this article, I’ll share how SAP is working to enable mobility for its customers and provide an overview of several of SAP’s key mobility tools and applications.

An Overview of SAP’s Mobility Solutions

SAP, with help from the newly acquired Sybase, is ready to give customers the solutions they need to become “unwired enterprises.” Being an unwired enterprise means:

  • Breaking down information technology barriers and delivering critical information, processes, and applications to employees, partners, and customers through any platform, device, or network — anytime and anywhere
  • Becoming more efficient, more productive, and better able to capitalize on new opportunities because information is moved to the point of action — that is, it’s put directly into the hands of the workers who need it, thereby increasing its relevance and enabling better decisions and up-to-date transactions

To help companies become unwired enterprises, SAP offers a cohesive mobile application development platform, market-leading mobile applications, integrated mobile device management capabilities, and operator-grade mobile services. These offerings, combined with our core applications and analytic capabilities, deliver ongoing value to customers, allowing them to transform the mobile user experience and simplify mobile deployment.

Mobile Application Development Platform

Mobilizing the enterprise is a complex task. On one hand, mobile applications and infrastructures have to meet the usual enterprise IT requirements of enabling security, device manageability, and application lifecycle management, and of controlling the total cost of development and ownership. On the other hand, mobility is intrinsically different from the traditional systems that IT is used to managing. End users want to use devices they choose; consumer mobile applications have set high expectations for ease of use; and users want mobile access to all of the processes and data they need.

To handle this complexity, companies need a flexible, open, and consistent development platform that is designed to balance the unique nature of mobility while allowing IT to fulfill its usual requirements.

Sybase Unwired Platform is a mobile enterprise application platform that empowers enterprise developers to simply and quickly build applications that connect business data to mobile workers on multiple devices (see Figure 1). Sybase Unwired Platform enables you to embrace mobility across your entire organization with a development platform that is consistent yet highly adaptable (see Figure 2). Sybase Unwired Platform:

  • Includes a powerful fourth-generation programming language tooling environment that enables speedy mobile application development. And since this platform integrates with common integrated development environments like Eclipse, developers can leverage their existing tools and expertise when building mobile applications.
  • Provides the ability to design a mobile application and then deploy it to a range of mobile devices and operating systems — including Windows Mobile, Windows 32, iPhone, and RIM BlackBerry devices — without having to make a device-specific application for each.
  • Offers seamless integration with SAP Business Suite and third-party applications.
  • Fully integrates with Afaria, Sybase’s device management and security solution. (We’ll discuss this solution in detail later.)

In short, Sybase Unwired Platform is the foundation to help companies simplify their mobile application development and deployment.

Figure 1 With Sybase Unwired Platform, SAP’s mobile applications are supported on multiple devices
Figure 2 Sybase Unwired Platform allows users to control and create mobile applications and then push them out to be consumed by mobile devices, connecting mobile users to critical information

Mobile Applications

Of course, the value of any platform directly depends on the applications that run on it. SAP and Sybase are building both the mission-critical applications needed to mobilize your core business processes and the productive applications that are easy to use and can be developed quickly and deployed instantly.

Two mission-critical applications are already available, with more on the way:

  • Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM provides instant access to critical SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) data through mobile devices. The solution provides full access to SAP CRM accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, activities, and analytics. And any changes made on a mobile device will also instantly show up in the SAP CRM back end.
  • Sybase Mobile Workflow for SAP Business Suite allows users to complete predefined processes, such as requests and approvals for travel or leave, from their mobile devices. These business processes often require immediate action, but used to only be accessible via desktop or laptop computers. Additionally, users can easily record time-based events, such as time entry, directly into SAP Business Suite applications from a mobile device.

As for productive applications, we will be releasing the first batch early in 2011.

Of course, we recognize that we can’t cover every mobile application need. So we’ve also opened up mobile application development to our ecosystem and are supporting our partners as they bring these innovative partner applications to the market. Visit ecohub.sdn.sap.com to learn more about partner applications.

In addition, Sybase Unwired Platform allows developers to write their own mission-critical and productive custom applications to fit their company’s needs.

Mobile Device Management

With so many mobile operating systems and device choices available, companies also need a solution that can manage — and secure — all of their critical enterprise data, mobile applications, and devices.

Afaria is a powerful and flexible mobile device management and security solution for the enterprise that provides a single administrative console from which users can centrally manage, secure, and deploy mobile data, applications, and devices (see Figure 3). Afaria:

  • Backs up data and content entered into a mobile device. It also secures this information by encrypting sensitive data, centrally enforcing any security policies, and enabling companies to remotely wipe the date if a device is lost or stolen.
  • Enables IT to remotely add, update, or remove applications, data, and content without requiring the user to bring the device to them for updates. This ensures mobile workers have the correct software and data in the field.
  • Enables all management tasks, regardless of bandwidth available, thanks to Afaria’s optimization capabilities. Additionally, all of this management activity happens in the background, leaving the user undisturbed.

Basically, Afaria provides the foundation on which you can manage your mobility solutions.

Figure 3 Afaria provides a flexible, centralized console from which IT can manage and secure the solutions and data on a company’s mobile devices

Mobile Services

Another important facet of a company’s mobility strategy is how it takes advantage of its mobility to better serve its customers. After all, it’s not just employees who are going mobile; the customer base is now mobile as well. Customers today want — and often expect — to be able to interact with their favorite brands via mobile devices.

The most common way to reach customers on their mobile devices is via mobile messaging. Mobile messaging services, like short message service (SMS) and multimedia message service (MMS), are now part of the social fabric. Enterprises should take advantage of these messaging services and leverage them to interact with their mobile customers.

SAP’s Enterprise Mobile Services can help you extend your business across mobile channels with a single connection to our global messaging and services network. These services offer:

  • Global reach to more than 75% of the world’s mobile subscribers, with local presence and expertise
  • Extensive marketing and customer engagement solutions to make your business stand out to mobile customers
  • Many ways to support mobile transactions, from advanced mobile payment networks to unparalleled reach for premium messaging
  • Comprehensive reporting and analytic tools to understand your customers and your business

To complement these Enterprise Mobile Services, SAP also offers:

  • Mobile CRM functionality, which combines advanced customer engagement tools (like comprehensive reporting and tracking capabilities) with the power and reach of mobile phones
  • Mobile payment solutions that allow companies to support and track mobile transactions as part of their mobile CRM program; they also allow operators, banks, and financial institutions to introduce new service offerings, such as micropayments, bill pay, and top-ups
  • Mobile marketing services to help companies create and execute innovative mobile marketing programs with powerful, but still easy-to-use tools; these services can also be used as a kind of standalone solution for companies looking for very specific mobile marketing functions or campaigns

SMS and MMS delivery services that allow you to send and receive data from mobile handsets in most countries around the world

Reporting and analytic capabilities as a core part of SAP’s mobile messaging services; these reporting tools provide multiple views of success and failure rates to help companies assess program success

With our mobile services, applications, and platform, it is very easy for companies to execute on their customer mobile strategy.

What Is Your Mobile Strategy?

Too many organizations are still thinking small about mobility, just extending a few processes to their road warriors. But all the pieces needed to turn an enterprise into a mobile force are now available, including powerful mobile operating systems, flexible mobile solutions, and end-user demand. With SAP’s mobility solutions and services, customers can take advantage of this mobile inflection point and truly transform their enterprises.

For more information on the solutions discussed in this article, visit www.sap.com/mobile.

Jack Chawla (jack.chawla@sap.com) is Senior Director of Solution Marketing at SAP. He has been at SAP for over two years; before that, Jack worked in various solution management and solution marketing roles at Cisco, eGain, and IBM Lotus.

 1 Source: Informa Telecoms & Media report (2007). [back]

2 Source: IDC, Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2009-2013 Forecast, Doc #221309 (December 2009). [back]

3 Source: www.macworld.com/article/152789/2010/07/liveupdate.html. [back

4 For tips on building your own enterprise mobility strategy, see “How to Turn Mobility Momentum into Real Business Value” in this January-March 2011 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

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