Preparing for Enterprise Mobility projects: Q&A with Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke

Follow our discussion with Enterprise Mobility 2013 speakers Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke, who will be presenting a number of sessions at SAPinsider’s upcoming Enterprise Mobility 2013 conference on developing mobile assessments and building a mobile strategy.

Live Q&A on enterprise mobility assessments with
Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke

Mobility experts and Enterprise Mobility 2013 conference speakers Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke took questions in a one-hour live chat on September 25. Topics covered included mobility skillsets, device diversity and selection issues, and a look ahead to the next release of SAP Mobile Platform.
Click on the Q&A below for a replay of the chat.

Mobile implementation experts Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke of Expert IG took question in an online chat bout developoing mobile assesments and developing a mobile strategy. Jim and Steven will be presenting a number of sessions on these topics and more at SAPinsider’s upcoming Enterprise Mobility 2013 conference in Orlando.

Questions  came in to Jim and Steven about how to prepare teams for a mobility project, and specific planning and assessments - around issues like tool selection, devices, and users - that will help meet the distinct requirements for mobile, well before development and go-live.

This Q&A was moderated by Charlotte Christy, conference producer for Enterprise Mobility 2013.

Charlotte Christy, moderator:  

Thanks for joining us today for this live Q&A.  We’re kicking off now! I’ll start by welcoming Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke, speakers at our upcoming Enterprise Mobility conference in Orlando this November.

Charlotte Christy:

Thanks, Jim and Steven, for joining us today!   

Steven Crooke:

Hi there Charlotte - thanks for inviting us to this session

Jim Cameron:

Hi Charlotte Thanks for inviting me today!


Charlotte Christy:

Jim, Steve, one of your sessions tackles enterprise mobility assessments.

Can you talk about what these are, when they happen? And maybe one or two of the biggest differences for project teams when planning for a mobile vs. traditional enterprise software project? 

Jim Cameron:

Interesting question one we get from many people at the conference. I will open to say Mobile Enterprise projects are much more fun.

But more seriously mobile project are usually quick delivery if done correctly and have the expectation that they will be more disruptive to the way people do their job.

In my experience planning a mobile project should take on more of an agile approach. This can be tough for companies if they are used to a more formal approach.

In mobile projects the teams are also usually smaller and more diverse. We usually run a 5 to 8 person team and deliver versions of the app every 6 to 10 weeks.


Comment From Nathan

Where do I start on mobility strategy - device first or application first?

I think it should be a combination of both. But practically, the device is selected first, because somebody likes a device better than others, or adopted first, then it moves on.

Any thoughts?

Steven Crooke:

Interesting question from Nathan - where do you start with an Enterprise Mobility strategy?

A mobility strategy certainly has to include awareness of the devices that will be used - certain devices are more appropriate for certain activities: sales enablement activities could leverage tablets, versus alerts and approvals could work well on smart phones.

Steven Crooke:

The truth is that you have to create your business case with a few different aspects in mind: device selection is key, UI/UX of the app is key for adoption and security remains a primary concern.

The major players today are Apple in the enterprise tablet space and Android in the handheld space--  but that could change in 6 months. But trying to predict every move of every device and every technology before embarking on your mobility initiative will leave you knotted and going nowhere.

Your best option is to consider the most compelling business scenarios and embark on that initiative with the best of what you know today.

Comment From Nathan

Thanks. With device selection, where do we start? How do we compare the devices - what factors determine the phone selection and tablet selection?

Steven Crooke:

Start with the business scenario and look at the possible devices that would work for that scenario - both based on the demand from the intended audience and best practice experience of other organizations.


Comment From Michelle:

How do you determine that the mobile device you choose will deliver the best ROI for your business case?

Steven Crooke:

The mobile device itself will not be the sole determinant of ROI - in the Enterprise Mobility world, you include factors such as adoption and longevity in the ROI calculation. UX is key and the device will determine what kind of experience you can create for the user through the app


Comment From Karen:

Can you provide some information on how to monitor the mobile applications and the infrastructure it's on, i.e., SUP / Afaria vs OData?

We've discovered in ver 2.1.3 of SUP that some metrics don't function unless a developer creates the coding. SAP even told us we had to write our own API's to monitor the system properly, even though the Control Center I thought was supposed to be the "monitoring tool" for SUP. How is this handled in the new releases and how can we better prepare ourselves for future mobile apps?

Jim Cameron:

Hi Karen, Are you looking at a specific type of monitoring like crash analytics, user usage, or backend system performance? SMP 3.0 is going into initial training and I am in workshops next week with SAP. What are you using for the frontend development with SUP and NW Gateway?

If you post a reply I can give you some more specific feedback.


For monitoring -- pretty much all of the above.

In SUP 2.1.3 we found even exporting the data as shown in the SCC was extremely inaccurate - it was creating duplicate entries on one day it had over 1000 duplicate records and dropped the 1000 that should have been there. The metrics for average replication times seems to clump together the CDB to EIS and CDB to devices, so you can't get a really clear picture. Crash analytics are very lacking - we just enabled WER to hopefully capture more info for some of the crashes.

The main thing I'm after is metrics for devices - in the field they are taking 20 minutes to replicate from the SCC, the longest we've seen is 5 minutes... so someplace we're missing a 15 min window and no way to currently find out what's going on.

Jim Cameron:

Hi Karen, I am going to tackle the last part since that was most important.

I have seen this before unfortunately SUP has many moving parts in this area.

Logs and monitoring is minimal as you are aware.

The newer version of SUP limits your synching capability where it used to be message based now it is more of a synch. You can look at the cache DB (where SAP said you have to develop custom) and that will tell you if you have to much being synched to the device from cache. Unfortunately, for the future most people will be moving towards offline oData for situations where they used SUP MBO's.

If you want to contact me offline to discuss my email is That also goes for anyone else who may have additional questions.


Comment From Daniel:

Looking at skills in the market right now and career path - where are the big gaps for mobility? What should I be training on now?

Jim Cameron:

Hi Daniel, On specific skill sets: Web skills are very popular right now including Javascript and html5.

Steven Crooke:

A major challenge with organizations adopting Enterprise Mobility is the cohesion that is required between the Business Organization and IT. Technologist skills are important in delivering and supporting a mobile app

Jim Cameron:

But many people are looking to move in that direction, so you will have a lot of competition and the number of people available is keeping pace.

Steven Crooke:

We find a big challenge to companies now is the ability to understand business requirements (the compelling business scenario), understand the Enterprise Mobility trends, understand organizational constraints, and then pull all those factors together into a comprehensive strategy.

 Implied in this statement is a trend towards commoditization of technology skills, but there will always be a need for individuals or organizations who are able to construct and guide cohesive Enterprise Mobility initiatives.

Jim Cameron:

As SMP3.0 arrives at the end of the year, oData skills will be key for ABAP programmers.

Native development skills are still in high demand. If you can combine a strong knowledge of iOS and Android with oData, that will probably be the most in-demand, highest paid skillset.

Steven Crooke:

Technologists are going to be required to have multiple skillsets to address the rapidly changing technology landscape

Jim Cameron:

One final comment on skills is that mobility experience is still measured in dog years ... meaning that 6 months solid experience in a mobility skill set is equivalent to 2 years experience in other technologies.


Comment From Guest

How much are we limiting ourselves in the long-run if we only plan to roll out an app for a single device?

Steven Crooke:

This is a follow on to a topic we hit a little earlier . . .

Adding to your device landscape once you are well underway with your mobility initiative adds a significant burden to the effort.

Some things to consider are:

- Screen real estate - do you need to re-design your UI?

- Security considerations - how do you afford the new device the same level of security with your current MDM strategy

- Multiple code base; 1 for each device

…and then the support plan (helpdesk) for multiple releases of the app(s) - how does the staffing plan and support plan need to change in light of the added device?


Charlotte Christy:

Just as an overview, what are the components of the current SAP mobility suite, and are there any big changes over the past year that you expect to be focusing on in Orlando?

Jim Cameron:

Yes, this year’s conference will reflect all of the changes with the SAP Mobile Platform (SMP). SAP is moving SMP3.0 into ramp-up. This is a significant release for SAP.

As we have seen the SAP mobile platform has grown through acquisition and also substantial internal development.

In SMP 3.0 we have all of the technology in the prior release with some subtle but important differences.

The Syclo Agentry component is still in 3.0, SUP (Sybase) is still a primary component, and oData is increasing in popularity.

Those are three major development directions -- and three very different ways to build a enterprise mobile app.

In addition SAP UI5 is a new focus for app development.

All that said I see the following key trends emerging (my opinion only). oData will take the lead for backend integration. Syclo Agentry has a small cult following that will not increase moving forward. Traditional SUP based MBO integration will minimize as the concept of "offline oData" becomes more popular.

If you look at SAP's new mobile cloud offering it supports the above comment.

Final note is that Mobiliser will start to emerge with a stronger role in consumer apps and that SAP's movement into customer loyalty will add a new dimension to SAP's offering.


Charlotte Christy

Can you share any thoughts about where things are heading in terms of skills & hiring and mobile strategy? Where are the big trends right now?

Steven Crooke:

We are seeing a lot of hiring for technology skills such as the ones that Jim discussed earlier. Skillset requirements seem to be consistent for native development, backend integration skillsets seem to follow SAP trends in its mobile landscape.

Skillset requirements also seem to follow some third-party tools as they emerge in areas of cross platform development, testing and integration.


Charlotte Christy:

Thanks to everyone who joined us today! For more from Jim Cameron and Steven Crooke, you’ll find details about Jim’s sessions on SAP Mobile Platform and mobile strategy, and Steven’s sessions on mobile projects and ROI on the Enterprise Mobility site. We hope to see you in Orlando!

Steven Crooke:

If you are going to be at the November Enterprise Mobility or Projects conference in Orlando you can reach both Jim and myself while there - just drop us an email- and I can be reached by email for any additional questions you may have. ExpertIG spends all of its time staying abreast of Enterprise Mobility trends and helping customers make their Enterprise Mobility initiatives a reality.


Charlotte Christy:  Thank you, again, Jim and Steven of ExpertIG, for answering our questions today. Looking forward to seeing you at the conference!


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