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Why Mobile Is Central to the Digital Discussion

SAP Has the Platform, Apps, and Experience Companies Need for the Future

by Senthil Krishnapillai | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 2

April 26, 2016

Today, organizations — no matter their industry or size — are discussing their mobile strategy. But even as they do so, the concept is becoming obsolete; soon, mobile strategy will be as commonplace as an IT strategy, or even a business strategy. The world is going mobile, and SAP has taken note, rolling out a number of technologies organizations can take advantage of to expand their mobile capabilities. Learn how your organization can incorporate mobile-first thinking into every aspect of its SAP strategy.

Back in the days when it was considered a novelty to use a mobile app to rent a car, purchase tickets, or make a reservation, a company’s mobility strategy was understood to be a separate entity from its overarching corporate objectives. With mobility now nearing the default consumption model, the line between the two is blurring at a pace where “mobility strategy” will soon become an anachronism on par with “roll down the window” or “dial the phone.”

A company’s strategy will inherently include mobility: For the SAP customer, this strategy entails connecting employees, customers, and partners at any time and on any device with real-time information. This concept is at the heart of everything SAP is doing to bring enterprise mobility into the mainstream to simplify the creation and consumption of SAP content. 

A Unified Platform

Among several innovations and changes in this area, one of the clearest indications of this strategy is that there is now a representation of all SAP mobile products in SAP HANA Cloud Platform. This includes SAP HANA Cloud Platform mobile services, which is the runtime platform for building mobile apps; SAP Mobile Secure, which entails the security and management of all mobile apps, devices, and content; and the newest innovation, SAP Fiori mobile service, introduced as part of SAP Fiori, cloud service premium edition.

Released in January 2016, SAP Fiori mobile service is the final piece of the mobility puzzle, enhancing the SAP Fiori user experience (UX) with mobile qualities, significantly improving the usability while leveraging the investment made to deploy SAP Fiori applications. This ensures that mobility is requisite with SAP core capabilities and inseparable from the focus area of the entire company. From an internal standpoint, this means that all mobile technologies fall under the purview of the same global design team, using SAP Fiori design patterns and guidelines implemented by an SAP UI5 framework. From the customer’s standpoint, SAP Fiori mobile service running in SAP HANA Cloud Platform means that with a few simple configuration steps, any current or net-new, web-based SAP Fiori application can be consumed as a robust, highly customized, responsive mobile app.

SAP Fiori mobile service makes this possible with built-in qualities that are essential to any well-built mobile app that people actually want to use: social, mobile, analytics, and cloud components that together make an app come to life. Social, of course, entails components such as ratings, sharing, and networking. Mobile qualities include push notifications and offline access. Analytics — crucial for enterprise use — are important to improve the performance of the app by understanding how it is being used, which features are most popular, and what challenges are faced, and so on. And cloud, as the consumption model, informs ease of use.

Cloud Considerations

The importance of the cloud cannot be overstated. Connecting to an enterprise system has, to date, been challenging for app developers accustomed to working in infrastructure environments ill-suited to support a seamlessly integrated mobile connection. This challenge speaks to the reason for building SAP Fiori mobile service on SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

First and foremost, it is a tremendous cost savings for customers because the integration allows for an immediate and secure connection to on-premise and cloud-based SAP Fiori applications, as well as a connection with enterprise data throughout a company’s SAP landscape. On the other end, it simplifies the development of net-new mobile apps in the cloud and the conversion of web-based SAP Fiori applications. Even stripping away the cost savings and the benefits of offering a simple connection to enterprise data, the reality is that cloud adoption is on the rise because of the universal recognition that cloud is where most innovation happens today, and SAP is actually leading this pace-layering approach. From a development standpoint, the conduit for adding mobile qualities rests with SAP Web IDE, the web-based HTML development tool that, through SAP Fiori mobile service, is now available in SAP HANA Cloud Platform. This visualization tool — which had existed in SAP HANA Cloud Platform to build, run, or extend web-based apps — can be used to build complex SAP Fiori apps while using all of the services unique to SAP HANA Cloud Platform.

With SAP Mobile Place, we provide an easy way to make SAP Fiori apps easily discoverable for a simple “click-to-consume” model, similar to a public app store. With SAP Web IDE, any of these apps can easily be modified with items such as menu screen, colors, custom business logic, or any other customization to inform the app’s look, feel, and usability. With the aforementioned enterprise connectivity, any of these changes can easily be put into back-end systems. Because all of this can be done in a single workflow without having to possess the SDK, developers are nearing a point where they don’t even need to make a conscious decision ahead of time whether to develop a web-based or mobile app. Mobility will be a natural extension.

With SAP Mobile Place, we provide an easy way to make SAP Fiori apps easily discoverable in an app store environment for a simple download-and-install experience.

When an app is published on SAP Mobile Place, an end user — an employee, for instance — can access the enterprise storefront with a secure single sign-on and view all of the apps that a manager has authorized according to the employee’s role. A secure download via SAP Mobile Secure completes the end-to-end, integrated process in which application management and application security are now tied to application development. This unification underscores the fact that it has never been simpler to discover, build, customize, publish, and distribute an SAP Fiori application.

Next-Generation Experience

As cloud and mobility continue to gain steam in the enterprise, simplicity will become a natural expectation. With greater adoption, people will eventually forget that on-premise infrastructures were typically complex. This makes SAP Fiori mobile service as the centerpiece of the SAP mobile platform even more attractive because of its future-proof integration with SAP’s core applications in SAP S/4HANA; because it is purely built on SAP Fiori, all SAP S/4HANA content can be consumed on a mobile device. In this sense, SAP Fiori Mobile can even be thought of as a bridge between SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and SAP S/4HANA. 

Future-proof components are important for additional reasons. Consider, for example, what would happen if apps tilted toward obsolescence. While the user interface is important, the market is also looking at a future scenario in which apps are replaced by digital virtual assistants. Within this framework, SAP is exploring how to use SAP Fiori interaction patterns to support the possibility of a no-app future.

In addition, we are only at the beginning of a big wave of innovation with the Internet of Things (IoT). SAP Fiori mobile service supports the building of IoT-ready SAP Fiori apps that, using external plug-ins or add-ons, can sense and transmit sensor data from nearby devices. This model supports any number of innovative scenarios, such as a plant manager receiving real-time notification of a machinery service issue while walking down the shop floor.

IoT is a prime example of why mobility and innovation will become inseparable. SAP will continue to explore avenues that help expand a state-of-the-art mobile platform designed to spark innovation, with one example of this the recent acquisition of Roambi, a mobile analytics solution that delivers state-of-the-art visualizations, dashboards, and an enterprise-grade mobile experience in the cloud.

With an end-to-end unification of all mobile technologies in SAP HANA Cloud Platform and SAP Fiori mobile service in the center, the SAP mobility strategy is now essentially indistinguishable from the overarching SAP strategy: Make it easy for customers to run simple.

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Senthil Krishnapillai
Senthil Krishnapillai

Vice President and Head of Development
Digital Experience Services, UxP – Technology

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