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What Kim Kardashian teaches us about SAP's mobility strategy

by Davin Wilfrid

July 22, 2011

by Davin Wilfrid, insiderRESEARCH

Reality show trinket and ubiquitous TV something Kim Kardashian is suing Old Navy for using a look-alike named Melissa Molinaro in a series of advertisements (see image below). Molinaro and Old Navy insist the actress was not hired because of her resemblance to Kardashian, but still Kardashian is seeking $20 million in damages for using her likeness (or at least look-alikeness) without permission.


Meanwhile, in China, bloggers recently uncovered a fake Apple Store so convincingly detailed and accurate (despite misspelling "Store" as "Stoer" on the front of the building) that even employees were under the impression it was real. I imagine Steve Jobs is learning to swear in Chinese as we speak. 

What does any of this have to do with SAP and mobility? 

Glad you asked. The point is that the modern business world is rife with replication and reproduction. They're not always as silly as the Old Navy/Kardashian dust-up or as bizarre as a fak e Apple Store, but we have to accept that we live in a copy/paste world now and ideas, images, technologies and even business models will replicate quickly. 

Mostly, that's a good thing. But it can result in huge headaches for the IT department when standards and user preferences evolve quickly. The world of mobility is a perfect case in point -- four years ago the BlackBerry from RIM dominated the enterprise, yet now only 4% of smartphone buyers want one. The landscape has shifted heavily in favor of Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms, meaning companies that want to support their users' mobility preferences have to support those options. Add in Microsoft Mobile 7 plus any and all tablet or homegrown field device system, and suddenly your application developers are responsible for delivering enterprise applications that must be customized individually for mulitple platforms.

Here's where we start to see the real value of SAP's acquisition of Sybase -- at least in theory. Sybase Unwired is aimed at offering SAP customers a central platform where they can develop SAP-focused applications once and deploy to any mobile platform. 

At the BI/IT 2012 event, SAP's Jason Fox promised SAP's strategy would "bring order to chaos" of proliferating mobile systems by offering a centralized, consistent platform for development. Combine that with Afaria, Sybase's system for managing enterprise users and devices, and you can see that SAP is attempting to build a system for preparing for mobility evolution rather than responding to it. 

Of course it will be some time before an ecosystem of SAP applications and use cases springs up -- and thus far we don't know enough about possible integration challenges and shortcomings of the combined SAP/Sybase combination. But in terms of setting its mobility agenda, SAP's vision is clear and direct. 



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