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How to Turn Mobility Momentum into Real Business Value: Best Practices for Defining Your Enterprise Mobility Strategy

by Dr. Ahmed El Adl | SAPinsider

January 1, 2011

Building an enterprise mobility strategy can enable companies to transform into a “mobile enterprise” in a sustainable and secure manner, while unlocking new business value from their SAP investments. Discover the main drivers of the current mobility momentum and the key business and IT facets of a successful mobility strategy.

The recent proliferation of mobile devices and mobile consumer apps has unleashed an unprecedented amount of interest and excitement among business and IT professionals. Not since the dot-com days has the IT world been so abuzz with enthusiasm and innovation around a single technology. Mobility, simply put, has changed the way people expect to work and live.

But with all this excitement comes a good deal of confusion and a host of questions about the future direction of enterprise mobility. While most business software users know mobility is soon going to affect their business more than it does today, they’re not sure how, and they’re looking to the technology community — including SAP and Sybase — for guidance on where to begin.

The Perfect Storm

SAP’s acquisition of Sybase, a long-time leader in the enterprise mobility space, has created particular enthusiasm among SAP customers. By acquiring Sybase, SAP now offers the best-in-class mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP), mobile landscape and security management tools, and short message service (SMS) and multimedia message service (MMS) delivery systems. These Sybase products, combined with SAP’s own mobility tools and applications, provide a very powerful foundation for customers looking to unwire their enterprises and promote IT innovation.1

SAP’s new mobility strategy and the acquisition of Sybase comes at a time when mobility is gaining huge momentum and creating a “perfect storm” environment. SAP decided to be part of this perfect storm and turn the momentum into real value for its customers. Some of the key drivers of the current mobility momentum include:

  • New trends in IT. Organizations are moving toward cloud computing and unwired mobile solutions as they recognize the cost and business benefits of running business applications on-demand and on-device. The shift of the mobile solutions development paradigm from “one app on one mobile operating system (OS) on one device” to “multiple apps on multiple OSs on multiple devices” became inevitable. SAP’s new product strategy is a strong commitment to this shift in software development and delivery models, and mobility plays a huge role here.2
  • Mobility innovation and advances. The new generation of mobile OSs, such as iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7, combined with the recent advances in mobile software development kits (SDKs), provides effective tools for quickly developing reliable mobile applications with a rich user experience for a lower cost.
  • A heightened mobility maturity level. The overall level of maturity of mobile technology and different supporting technologies increased dramatically over the last few years. Technologies, such as faster networks, smarter GPSs, and a multitude of new sensors, add tremendous value to mobile solutions. Mobile devices are now very powerful and are optimized to be used over different networks. Machine-to-machine (M2M) hardware, communication protocols, and applications are emerging very quickly, driven by the potential value that the applications could add to our daily lives.
  • Strong business needs. The perfect storm environment of mobile consumer solutions and devices makes mobility a sure competitive enabler and differentiator. The globalization of doing and managing business has made it even more important to be able to access business information to make informed decisions and perform tasks anywhere, any time. Therefore, many companies are ready, or have already started, to reengineer their business processes to move toward a real-time “mobile enterprise” and deliver sustainable business value.

Companies eager to channel this momentum and start mobilizing their SAP functionality can’t just proceed with scattered ad hoc pilots and siloed deployments of mobile applications — SAP-based processes are business-critical, and they shouldn’t be treated haphazardly. To maximize the ROI and reduce the risks of any mobile investments, companies first need to think strategically about mobility adoption. In short, they need an enterprise mobility strategy.

The day when the mobile enterprise will be the enterprise itself is not too far off.

Building an Enterprise Mobility Strategy

To develop an enterprise mobility strategy, organizations should consider how to best leverage SAP mobile technologies to unlock business value. And they can’t overlook the importance of IT’s role here — a successful enterprise mobility strategy must also account for maintaining high standards of security, user experience, and governance. An effective strategy builds on both the business and IT (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 The business and IT facets of an effective enterprise mobility strategy

The Business-Side Mobility Fundamentals

A solid enterprise mobility strategy should start where an organization can realize immediate benefits: on the business side. Understand the way your employees conduct business, the way they would like to interact with each other, and how your company delivers services and products to its customers. When firming up the business-side aspects of your strategy, be mindful of the following considerations:

  • Executive sponsorship is crucial to the success of a mobility strategy. Therefore, an enterprise mobility strategy must be rooted in the organization’s overall vision and strategy. Aligning these efforts will help the organization understand and analyze its business vision and strategy for the next three to five years.
  • Becoming a mobile enterprise will surely require some organizational changes and business process reengineering. Mobility isn’t just another user interface or access method — it’s an opportunity to transform how companies and industries conduct their core business.
  • Go beyond the classic mobile app areas, such as sales and service. Think of new and innovative small apps (mobile BI and mobile workflow, for example) that can instantly add real, cross-departmental value to your business.
  • Both internal corporate culture, such as how employees communicate and collaborate with each other, and external influencers, such as where and to whom service will be provided, directly affect the way organizations manage and conduct their business. Consider these factors while crafting your mobility strategy.

The 8 Pillars of an IT Mobility Strategy

Building on the business-side mobility fundamentals, an IT mobility plan should then be developed to enable the IT organization to deliver the business’s required mobility solutions today and to flexibly accommodate future innovation in mobile technologies. There are eight main components of an IT mobility plan.

1. A mobile architecture framework. To guide your IT team as your business adopts mobile technologies, you’ll need a comprehensive set of architectural guidelines that are flexible enough to promote innovation, accommodate different enterprise systems (both SAP and non-SAP), and enable your organization to quickly adopt future advances in mobility. When establishing this framework, define ground rules to follow when making major decisions, such as whether native or browser-based mobile applications should be used. Also, security should not be an afterthought; the architecture of the platform and mobile apps should be natively secure. This framework should guarantee that mobility is an integral part of the overall business solutions development and procurement process.

2. A mobile technology infrastructure. A mobile infrastructure consists of all the systems, devices, and tools required to deliver, secure, support, and manage mobile applications (see Figure 2). The new SAP mobility platform is a strong foundation for a central, unified MEAP. However, consider increasing your ROI by adding other tools from SAP mobility partners, mobile operators, and device manufacturers. For instance, native mobile OS SDKs, such as the Android SDK, will be required in conjunction with SAP’s mobile SDK to leverage the device’s local resources and deliver a device-specific user experience.

Figure 2 A sample mobile technology infrastructure and its key features

3. A mobile applications roadmap. Showing quick wins is essential when creating the business case for mobility in the organization. Because they’re applicable across multiple business areas, mobile applications, such as mobile BI and mobile workflow-based requisition and approval, are usually the best candidates to start with. From there, the mobile applications portfolio should reflect the business priorities of the organization, as well as the readiness of the mobile technology and architecture within and outside the organization. To increase the ROI of mobile apps, consider leveraging other technology platforms, such as collaboration, social networking, and unified communications platforms, in your roadmap.

4. A mobile user experience framework. User experience extends beyond nice screens. The iPhone and Android, for example, didn’t revolutionize our collective mobile user experience just because their screens are sharp. It’s the way that their mobile apps interact with users, along with the reliability and performance of these apps, that impresses users most. Enterprises can learn from the consumer apps market by establishing a framework of roles and guidelines for developing their own mobile apps. These guidelines will help businesses create intuitive, high-performing, and reliable mobile applications across the board.

Also, in business mobility, the quality of different services around the app, such as the support provided to its users, is crucial for the acceptance and success of mobile solutions. Since SAP mobile apps mobilize core business functionality and are often used to make complex, business-critical decisions, they can be sensitive to these factors.

5. A mobile device and device management strategy. An explosion of innovation from mobile device makers has resulted in a potpourri of devices to choose from: iPhones, iPads and other tablets, BlackBerry handhelds, Androids, Windows Phone 7 — the list goes on and on. To control this device chaos, start by defining a mobile device strategy that provides the organization with a managed and secure set of diverse mobile devices and OSs.

This strategy should also define a mobile device management plan to allow the organization to effectively manage the complete life cycle of all approved mobile devices. Afaria is a leading enterprise-class solution for mobility management, combined with native SAP IT operational management solutions; it’s a reliable set of tools to manage the life cycle of mobile devices, from provisioning to decommissioning.

6. A mobile application management strategy. Companies must have the tools and processes in place to manage mobile applications from inception to the end of their life cycle. Consider remote over-the-air (OTA) application provisioning, updates, and configuration tools to help with this effort. Proactively monitoring the usage, performance, security policies, and configuration of mobile apps should be a key part of your mobility strategy. Afaria has all the functionality needed to manage the full life cycle of a mobile app.

7. A mobile security management framework. Mobility adds an extra layer of information security and privacy concerns. A company should have the right policies and processes in place, along with enterprise-class mobile security management tools to implement, monitor, and enforce those enterprise security policies. With device authentication, for example, you can ensure that only “need-to-know” users are the ones accessing and receiving your data. You’ll also need to secure all user devices, whether they are personally owned or task-specific. Enterprise-class, end-to-end data encryption tools should be used for the business data transferred between back-end systems and devices, including for OTA encryption.

8. A mobility governance strategy. The speed of innovation in the mobile technology space is faster than what any organization can accommodate. Trying to adopt mobility at that same breakneck speed could be disruptive and risky for your business. Therefore, mobility governance should be an element of your mobility strategy.

A dedicated entity should oversee the adoption of mobile technologies in the organization, as well as the implementation of the approved enterprise mobility strategy. This entity could be a mobility center of excellence (COE), which might include internal and external mobility subject matter experts, as well as key business users. One of the mobility COE’s major responsibilities would be to foster a culture of business and IT innovation using mobile technologies. The COE should also consider revising different company policies to include mobile business solutions and devices.

SAP’s new, expanded mobility platform and applications can not only help customers implement their mobility strategy across these business- and IT-side pillars, but also play an important role in defining the future of enterprise mobility. SAP customers worldwide are creating a real opportunity to wield business-class mobile devices and applications for competitive advantage.

With an enterprise mobility strategy in place, an organization can quickly adopt state-of-the-art mobile technologies in a sustainable and secure manner.

Mobility Transformation Starts with a Plan

By developing, communicating, and implementing an actionable yet flexible enterprise mobility strategy, an organization can unlock new business value from its existing and future SAP investments. Having a mobility strategy enables the organization to quickly adopt state-of-the art, innovative mobile technologies and transform itself into a “mobile enterprise” in a sustainable and secure manner — now and in the increasingly mobile future. Visit and to learn more.

Dr. Ahmed El Adl ( is Director of SAP Business Mobility Solutions with PwC. He is an advisor in the area of enterprise mobility strategy, architecture, and implementation, and has held different positions at SAP AG, BearingPoint, and now PwC.


Sam Lakkundi ( is an Enterprise Mobility Architect at Sybase, an SAP company. He has experience working at sites worldwide to help organizations architect their mobile solutions. Sam has worked on different technologies at Sybase for 15 years.

1 See Jack Chawla’s article in this January-March 2011 issue of SAPinsider for an overview of the SAP/Sybase suite of mobility solutions. [back]

2 For more on SAP’s “on-premise, on-demand, on-device” strategy, see “The insideEdge” with Jim Hagemann Snabe in the July-September 2010 issue of SAPinsider. [back]

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