When you first look at the list of mobility vendors that are attending SAPPHIRENOW 2012, it may seem like most of them compete with SAP mobility, but that would be to forget that SAP sells ERP software. Look at where SAP makes their money. They make their money selling and maintaining large enterprise software implementations that run companies. Mobility is an enabler. Mobility extends and adds value to these large SAP users. Those are important points to understand.
In a way, I think SAP's mobile strategy can be defined as, "I don't care." I don't care what mobile software you use as long as it adds users and value. If more users can access SAP through a third-party mobile solution, and SAP receives more user fees, then all is well. Yes, they have spent billions of dollars on mobile middleware, tools, infrastructure and mobile applications (e.g. Sybase and Syclo), but that was, I believe, to ignite a now explosive enterprise mobility marketplace. They needed to kick-start the market and they have succeeded. There are now many mobility vendors supporting SAP users.
This week I read a story, written I believe, by Eric Lai about how fast SAP's internal developers could develop mobile applications using Adobe's PhoneGap mobile development environment. Why might you ask would SAP be promoting the virtues of developing in another vendors solution? Again, I think the answer is, "They don't care!" SAP will provide everything needed to m
obilize SAP environments, but if you want to use another vendor's solution - go for it!!! SAP will get their user licenses, more value will be added to the SAP environment and everyone is happy.
I think the most important thing SAP has done for mobility in the past three years is to be aggressive and to promote that mobility is essential for large enterprises. The folks at SAP invited me in late 2009 to join their SAP Mentor program. This is a voluntary position, and I taught dozens of sessions over the past three years on mobile strategy at their events. Today, everyone seems to believe in the value of enterprise mobility. I read this morning that there are now eighty-one mobile applications on the SAP app store. Very nice!
I think SAP's new partnerships with Adobe PhoneGap, Appcelerator and Sencha, plus the continued partnerships with appsFreedom, ClickSoftware and Sky Technologies prove my point. There is room for many mobility vendors as long as they support SAP's middleware strategy and add value to the SAP user community.
Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile Industry Analyst, Consultant and SAP Mentor Alumnus