by Davin Wilfrid, insiderRESEARCH
The iPad is the bikini of the tech world. Like the bikini, the iPad is most often described not by the parts that comprise it, but by the experience it delivers those who behold it. ("iPad + sexy" = 127 million Google results).
Also like the bikini, that sexiness is so transcendant that it has forced a complete reimagining of what is possible. The original, fairly modest bikini gave rise to Ursula Andress, Phoebe Cates, and Baywatch (no links, sorry... company blog), while the iPad has sparked an intense interest in mobility among even the most old-fashioned enterprises.
Here at SAP TechEd 2011, mobility is second only to HANA in terms of buzz. Seems like everyone is trying to deliver SAP applications (and extensions of applications) to business users through mobile devices.
SAP has put its full weight behind mobility, first by acquiring enterprise mobility platform vendor Sybase, then by promoting mobility as part of core enterprise strategy for the past two years.
However, there remain several practical obstacles that may slow down the mobility juggernaut. For mobility to truly take root to a meaningful degree, the following three groups of people have to be satisfied:
1. Developers. Because mobile applications appear small and lightweight, it is easy to forget that the need to be developed just like any application. And development requires skills. The array of mobile device choices means some developers might need to develop a single app for iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Mobile, or even other platforms. Managing multiple skill sets within an application devel
opment team will be critical for many companies moving forward. Of course, in theory the Sybase Unwired Platform allows companies to develop once for multiple devices (Android support coming this year), but many companies will resist a large infrastructure investment at least until they can prove the value of mobile applications.
2. The Business. Just because you can mobilize your applications doesn't mean you should, right? Over the next few years, companies interested in mobility solutions will have a lot of work to do figuring out exactly how to return business value through mobility. That means putting an awful lot of thought into the business drivers for mobility solutions, as well as security risk assessments, etc.
3. Partners. For SAP to see its vision of 1 billion users come to fruition, they'll need a fully invested partner community. Many of SAP's partners have made considerable fortunes helping SAP companies maximize their investments through solutions and services -- most of which go far beyond helping a client develop or deploy a few iPhone applications. Right now SAP partners are trying to determine their place in the mobility revolution, and how this paradigm shift will benefit them in the long term.