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Tips for mobilizing your workforce and SAP processes: Q&A with Björn Nee

April 02, 2014

Thanks again to everyone who attended our Q&A with Björn Nee, technology evangelist for Sitrion.

To review the discussion, click on the chat replay or read the edited transcript below. 


Kristine Erickson, SAPinsider: Thanks to everyone for joining our Q&A today on workforce mobility and BYOD for your SAP systems!

I’m pleased to be joined today by Björn Nee, technology evangelist for Sitrion.

Björn will share some of the research and thoughts on moving to BYOD and expanding workforce mobility - and some tips on how Sitrion has tackled that issue for customers who are using SAP as well as other business processes.

Thanks, Björn, for taking some time out for this Q&A today!      

Björn Nee, Sitrion: Thank you for having me! I look forward to talking about mobile and BYOD – it’s an exciting and important topic.

Kristine Erickson: Björn, let’s start with BYOD specifically. We know it’s been a touchy issue for many companies concerned about data security and other issues. Making the business case for adopting a BYOD approach is often a challenge.

Can we look first at what BYOD can do for employee productivity? What employee gains can a company expect with a BYOD approach - other than satisfying employees’ basic expectations of 24/7 access to apps?

Björn Nee: By following a BYOD approach employees can have more flexible working hours and can work with in any environment and with any mobile device they want. This usually increases things like innovation, creativity, and more collaboration.

A recent survey from CedarStone stated that by enabling HR processes, for example, on mobile devices, the user adoption impact increases by 25% for employees and 50% for managers. And we all know HR loves to improve employee engagement (according to the CEB, it’s their number one goal for 2014).

Another survey by Cisco on BYOD talks about a few more interesting stats like:

•  Employees are gaining a global average of 37 minutes of productive time per week.

•  On average, the current median level of BYOD implementation—what we call “Basic BYOD”—generates $350 of value each year per mobile employee.

•  BYOD will continue to grow with the number of BYOD devices in the countries surveyed expected to more than double from 198 million in 2013 to 405 million by 2016.


Kristine Erickson:

This sounds like the start, at least, of a compelling business case in terms of employee benefits & productivity.

I know that our readers have some questions for you as well, so I’ll let you get to those now....


Comment From Ken

Hello Björn, in trying to benchmark that $350 figure you use as far as value in gained productivity per mobile device, what exactly do you mean by "basic BYOD"? Thank you.

Björn Nee: Here you can find the whole Cisco survey in detail which might explain this a little more.


Comment From Guest

How do we overcome barriers to BYOD from IT for our SAP systems? The biggest issues are dealing with device mgmt. and maintenance for the long-term.

Björn Nee: You don’t have to setup or manage your own mobile infrastructure as Sitrion ONE is completely cloud based.


Kristine Erickson: What are design best practices - and pitfalls to avoid - when delivering backend services via mobile apps?

Björn Nee:  One major challenge is security. We have experienced a lot of different ways our customers have handled security (username and password, multifactor…).

Overall, we’ve seen one main commonality: All of them already had a proven security protocol in place that fit their specific needs. This is mostly covered by an ADFS integration.

 That’s why we usually recommend to set up a trusted relationship between ADFS and our Sitrion One mobile cloud solution.

This gives you the capability to reuse your existing security infrastructure, and give you the peace of mind that no confidential information is stored on anyone‘s devices.


Comment From Steve D.

What type of SAP transactions are being performed today in the field or customer locations using mobile apps?

Björn Nee: Especially, of course, HCM related apps like for travel and expenses and absence requests -- but also sales-related apps for the sales workforce to look up orders and/or customers.


Comment From Mohan

How manufacturing Organizations can utilize and benefit by BYOD approach?

Björn Nee:  I think the BYOD approach doesn't have to related if you're a manufacturing organization or not. Of course you still have to consider security related things like if you're allowed to bring a device in a manufacturing area (for security reasons of the area).


Comment From Brandon W

Has a customer implemented an ADFS solution for Fiori apps?

Björn Nee:  I haven't seen it in combination with Fiori, but with cloud-based solutions which connect, for instance, to Azure cloud-based services, you can set up trusted relationship between the cloud and the ADFS to have end-to-end SSO, for instance -- all the way from the device through the cloud to your SAP system.


Comment From Rey

What is your best practice for mobilizing non-exempt employees? Do you limit their use during just their working hours?

Björn Nee:  This could be approached for instance on the backend in SAP, since every mobile user still needs an SAP account, you could setup this restriction in SAP for this group of users. And of course the whole SAP authorization management is in place for these scenarios and users.


Comment From Juliano

OK,  in fact, are there some advantages for the company? I believe the benefits there are just for employee, isn't it?

Björn Nee:  

When you would like to offer mobile apps for non-employees, that would work as well. If you've the need to let them access SAP information you've do check if your SAP licenses will work for this. But if you have no SAP need for them, maybe just informational things, than you're good to go.

One example I experienced with a client was that they wanted give their retirees access to certain information via the company’s mobile app.


Comment From Mike Riha

What was your strategy to connect all varieties and versions of Operating Systems: Androids, Windows RT, Windows CE Jelly Bean, iOS, Ubuntu Linus, Google, etc.?

Björn Nee:  Mainly I focus on the major mobile operating systems like Android, iOS and Windows Phone since this are the most used on the market.


Comment From Guest

Do you have any advice for planning for devices that aren't out yet (changing market trends)?

Björn Nee:

Of course we're looking always what's going on at the market. One of the next devices which will probably be on the list will be Windows 8 itself, since it's more and more used for tablets.


Comment From Guest

What can we do to ensure our employees use the mobile apps we deploy to support their processes?

Björn Nee:  I actually would convince them that they are now able to access their processes everywhere and whenever they like. I've seen companies doing their own internal marketing campaigns to convince them.


Comment From Guest

We have implemented many custom processes in our SAP system. How we can give our employees access to these custom processes on their mobile devices without having to hire or contract several developers for different devices?

Björn Nee:  The biggest challenge here is that you usually have to address multiple mobile platforms for different devices like iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, which means you have to contract or hire different developers for each of these environments.

Our approach is to be device agnostic. Our mobile platform is built on one code base so you only have to write it once and you can deploy it everywhere.

We not only simplified the UX to make it not only easy to use, but also to make it easy to deploy and maintain.


Comment From Aaron

Our org finds it difficult to keep up on security issues when looking at mobilizing critical data (such as HR). How can we ensure we are keeping up with industry best practices for security?

Björn Nee:

I think the safest way is, when you don't store the data on the devices or in between. Keep it in the backend. This also gives you always the real live view to the data.


Comment From Alan

What tips do you have for expediting the decommissioning of devices? We have business requirements that involve doing this quickly.

Björn Nee:  Our approach here is that you always get live data from the device instead of storing business-related data on the device. When you go this way, you don't have to care if someone loses a device for instance.


Comment From Mike Riha

Knowing what you know now; what is your most important recommendation for someone just venturing into the BYOD party?

Björn Nee:  I would really look for a solution which gives you the capability to run a trial without setting up a huge infrastructure. I think the goal next to security is always to see fast results.


Comment From Guest

How do you recommend that we minimize the amount of device testing required to maximize BYOD?

Björn Nee:  That is one reason why we follow our One-App approach because you actually don’t have to worry about it - the whole business ecosystem lives in one single app.


Comment From Marsha

Is Fiori and/or HANA required for mobile access to ERP and GRC systems?

Björn Nee:  Fiori or HANA is not required for this as we are connecting directly via RFC or NetWeaver Gateway to the SAP system.


Kristine Erickson:

As we wrap up the Q&A, just a parting question about user adoption. Any advice on first places to start, and ensuring that users are not overwhelmed by multiple apps on their devices?

Björn Nee:  We think employees should only have one business app on their devices, regardless of the device. And if you have to deploy apps through an MDM, this makes your life much easier. One single app can be the safest way to give access to your company’s data through a secured way with and without SSO.

How annoying would it be to have more business apps on your own device than personal apps?

Daily processes happen in backend systems like SAP and other applications (SharePoint, Salesforce), and each of these systems require their own app to work with tasks and approvals.

This approach is time consuming, often counter-intuitive and requires high levels of maintenance. With Sitrion, we provide customers with all the tasks from different systems in one list and in one app.

Comment From FreddieC

What are your thoughts with regard to the following approach: Is it necessary to manage the 'device' in a BYOD program or is it possible to establish a BYOD pogram in which the organization does not manage the device?

This approach would presume company data does not need to be on a device. Applications would be granted ability to read data only. Thoughts?

Björn Nee:  This is a good question. I think you can follow an unmanaged BYOD if you follow a kind of One-App strategy like we are doing it with our Sitrion One approach. Based on that topic I published a blog post about this on our website just yesterday. Feel free to check it out.


Comment From Aaron

Do you see any security concerns in debating HTML5 vs. native apps?

Björn Nee:  On both you have to care of course about security. In the current state, I still believe native apps can give you more options to access the device functionalities like camera, maps, phone, ...


Kristine Erickson:  Thanks again, everyone, for joining us for today’s Q&A.

And thank you, Björn!


Björn Nee:  Thank you for having me; it’s been a great experience! If anyone has more questions, please reach out to me at

I also encourage you to check out our next live Mobilize Your Workforce Demo on April 22nd at 12pm ET. We also have a fun video you can watch in the meantime.

Have a great rest of your day, and I look forward to speaking with all of you!

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