Around the world, IT professionals and management on all levels are being
asked the same challenging questions:
- Does our company have a strategy regarding wireless computing?
- Is this technology ready for deployment, or is it too early?
- Can we integrate wireless applications with our existing enterprise
- Will it be affordable? How can we calculate the ROI?
- Should we focus on wireless automation of enterprise communication,
or on using mobile business information to better serve our customers?
At the same time, service providers for
the new economy - telephone companies, cellular carriers, Internet service
providers, etc. - are struggling with the same types of questions:
- How should my company play into this new technology?
- Can the company survive without deep involvement in 3G1
- If we offer Internet portals today for desktop technology, do they
have to evolve into portals for personalized, mobile, and "tiny-access"
handheld devices, too?
With new devices popping up every few months,
difficult choices in development environments, and different ways to deal
with the requirements of mobile applications, it has been difficult to
see a clear path for bringing advanced wireless services - including data
and voice - to the market. mySAP Mobile Business changes all this.
mySAP Mobile Business is SAP's methodology
and technology that brings selected mySAP.com content to the wireless
network. It allows IT professionals to move their enterprises to this
new technology with a high degree of simple, incremental implementation,
while at the same time protecting the company's current technology landscape,
investments, and skills.
By using a proven standard architecture,
mySAP Mobile Business allows an enterprise to fully concentrate on the
benefits of wireless technology: personalization, usability, and return-on-investment.
For application service providers (ASPs), the openness and architectural
flexibility of mySAP Mobile Business also provides a great opportunity
to deliver wireless services to those mid-tier and niche enterprises that
are still hesitant to deal with wireless technology on a larger scale.
The View from Here: The Rich Future of Wireless Computing
Wireless computing is the natural follow-up to the Internet. It builds
on current technologies and practices, and it will eventually grow to
reach practically everybody. Just look at what's being said about the
present and future of wireless computing.
By the end of next year, virtually all
wireless phones will eventually become "smart phones" incorporating some
form of Internet browser. Companies are now specializing in and even dominating
this area, and phone manufacturers and analysts are providing stable forecasts
for the spread of wireless devices accessing the Internet - to the point
where these devices will exceed conventional wireline devices, such as
PCs, by 2003 or 2004.
The numbers and types of users of wireless
technology has grown dramatically (see Figure 1). The number of
users of smart phones is expected to grow to more than 200 million by
||The Growth of Wireless Technology and Types of Users
A common concern is the variety of approaches
to enabling wireless technology visible around the world. Bluetooth technology
for wireless integration of devices is one of the important buzzwords
in this arena. Another is WAP - the Wireless Application Protocol.
Bringing the Internet to mobile devices
is exactly the purpose of WAP, as it has been defined by the industry-led
WAP Forum.2 The WAP Forum cooperates with the
Internet standardization body W3C,3 so that
WAP has some of the characteristics of a true standard. Future evolution
of WAP is clearly going to be the basis for wireless connected devices
in a wide area network.
In addition to phone devices, PDAs (personal
digital assistants) are gaining a growing market and high respect (even
cachet!) with professional users. These devices are linked to backbone
systems, either via wireless networks or through the cradle synchronization
technology that has been available for a number of years.
When it comes to the business world, analysts
agree that the ranks of mobile users will only increase. The Yankee Group
expects the number of remote and mobile employees is likely to double
by 2004, driven by increasing corporate support of mobile scheduling,
collaborative applications, messaging, file transfer, and database and
personal information access. Forrester Research predicts that more than
60 percent of all ERP users will be mobile by 2003.
Marketplace portals are also part of the
scope of PDAs today, as are employee self-service applications and travel
management solutions. These types of solutions will be deployed to more
than 50 percent of the installed SAP base by the end of 2002. There is
also clear evidence that smart "superphones" will be merging smart phone
technology with PDA standards in OS and application capabilities.
Given these findings, it is now the time
to extend standard office applications using the most promising scenarios
for enterprise and collaborative solutions, and to enhance workforce productivity
across the enterprise, especially in the areas of customer relationship
management and customer service.
Of course, some challenges remain: the
need for a standard architecture for wireless technology, the lack of
"trusted" wireless deployment standards, and the different "regional"
approaches. And while there is a need to embrace wireless technology,
most organizations find that their business content is provided by a proven
environment that has been deployed over the last decade, and is regarded
as a de facto standard for client/server business computing.
The wireless age requires a new architecture
that deals with various subsystems and macro-architectures, and presents
a sound, easy-to-deploy, holistic approach: the Standard Architecture
for the Mobile Enterprise, or SAME.
The Benefits of the mySAP Mobile Business Architecture
SAME is a platform-independent framework that enables mobile devices,
such as palmtop computers, PDAs, and laptops, to run business applications
offline and synchronize data with any SAP system (for example, SAP EBP,4
SAP Customer Relationship Management, or SAP R/3) via a standard Internet
SAME runs on both Microsoft and Java client
platforms. This "two-lane" approach also allows true enterprise computing,
since device decisions and consequences for the supporting architecture
cannot always follow a one-vendor strategy.
With this dual approach, device competition
will not seriously affect the enterprise application architecture, and
better investment protection can be expected.
The SAME framework (see Figure 2)
provides the following benefits:
||The mySAP Mobile Business Architecture
SAME is fully based on Java or Microsoft technology, so it runs on any
platform that supports Java or the Microsoft .NET initiative. Currently,
Java Virtual Machines are available for Windows CE, EPOC32, PalmOS (2001),
and, of course, for any laptop operating system.
User Interface Represented by Built-In Browser
SAME is able to generate any kind of plain standard markup language (such
as HTML) to allow for standard browser frontends. Therefore, a proprietary
browser is not required to be installed on the device.
Furthermore, the customer can easily change
the "look-and-feel" of the application's user interface by simply changing
HTML templates. Standard visual development plug-ins are also available.
Identical Programming Model for Desktop and Mobile Device
SAME supports two future programming models, ASP and JSP, to guarantee
maximum compatibility with existing and future applications. In addition,
SAP's installed base of the ITS (Internet Transaction Server), including
Flow Logic applications, is supported.
Easy Switch Between Online and Offline Mode
For applications that function both online and offline, SAME allows you
to run them in either mode. This feature allows for easy post-processing
of submitted data in case of errors.
One Gateway for All Mobile Scenarios
SAME fully supports the mySAP Mobile Workplace and, therefore, perfectly
integrates with all other types of scenarios, such as pure online scenarios
or online-on-demand services, such as the SAP Handheld Service application.
It includes the caching technology needed for offline browsing.
Built-In Data Storage and Synchronization Features
SAME offers a wide variety of application program interfaces (APIs) for
storing data locally on the device and synchronizing data with an SAP
system. Therefore, application developers do not need to handle any device-specific
Open, Forward-Looking Technology
SAME includes a full application server platform for mobile devices,
which allows you to develop any kind of browser-based applications. The
only limitation is the available memory space. Synchronization with an
SAP system is via a standard HTTP Internet connection.
Elements of SAME
SAME consists of four major parts:
- Mobile Workplace for WAP and PDA
- Web Server Plug-In
- Components for data synchronization (SAMESync)
- WAP infrastructure
SAP Mobile Workplace for WAP and PDA
As an integral part of mySAP Workplace, the SAP Mobile Workplace allows
for a seamless use of the personalization and role-based concepts of mySAP.com
enterprise and collaborative solutions. In addition to this conceptual
and management benefit, the SAP Mobile Workplace contains device recognition
technology that allows it to render the HTML content in a device-specific
way. With this capability, it can publish any suitable information or
content (including transactional content) to the mobile device in an acceptable
format, according to the display and dialog capabilities of the device.
It is now possible to implement powerful
scenarios for a mobile device with very little development effort. There
are no complexity restrictions, except hardware of the mobile device (e.g.,
memory), and no programming-specific restrictions.
The Web Server Plug-In is located on the
mobile device and enables you to run an offline scenario on the mobile
device. This offline programming technique used is an Offline Application
Building Block, such as JSP or ASP. In fact, several Offline Application
Building Blocks can be implemented.
The SAMESync Layer enables you to easily
synchronize data on the mobile device with the SAP system and vice versa.
The data exchange is completely handled by the built-in synchronization
components and supports both XML/ SOAP as well as the HTML forms exchange.
Both can be sent via the WAP server technology included in the Mobile
As mentioned above, WAP is a standard for wireless technology. WAP-enabling
a device means that it has a micro-browser that is wirelessly connected
to the Internet via either a dedicated gateway server, the WAP proxy,
or the WAP server (see Figure 3). In contrast to standard Web browsers
such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, WAP implements a specific protocol
stack and a dedicated markup (presentation) language called WML, to handle
such issues like low bandwidth, tiny screen sizes (form factors), and
||Data Exchange for Desktop and Mobile Devices
Web browsers communicate with their respective
Web servers using the HTTP protocol, and exchange HTML data. In contrast,
WAP-enabled browsers receive WML data in a binary encoded format from
a WAP server. The WAP server is establishing the connection to the Internet,
and "speaks" HTTP. It requests a URL and receives the document. The binary
encoding mainly serves as a means of compression, but is also used for
Native Internet standards such as HTML,
HTTP, TLS,5 and TCP6
are inefficient over mobile networks, and require large amounts of mainly
text-based data to be sent. Standard HTML Web content generally cannot
be displayed in an effective way on the small-size screens of pocket-sized
mobile phones and pagers, and navigation around and between screens is
not easy in one-handed mode. HTTP and TCP are also not optimized for the
intermittent coverage, long latencies, and limited bandwidth associated
with wireless networks.
WAP was created to solve all these problems:
it utilizes binary transmission for greater compression of data and is
optimized for long latency and low-to-medium bandwidth. WAP sessions cope
with intermittent coverage and can operate over a wide variety of wireless
transports, using IP7 access where possible and using other optimized
protocols where IP access is not possible.
As an integral part of the mySAP Workplace,
the WAP infrastructure has been tested by SAP to provide easier implementation
of the SAME framework for the wide area wireless setup. SAP is currently
working with major phone providers to create the best solutions for each
Along with SAP's application development and role definition, a continuously
growing number of mobile roles will arise from industry-specific and cross-industry
Some areas where SAP is focusing on innovation
of wireless technology include the following:
- To make the best use of specific device capabilities, specific projects
will be launched to provide best-in-class Mobile Solutions.
- The relevance of voice control for better interaction with the device
is obvious. SAP is in the process of evaluating several innovations
that would handle advanced voice recognition for better user support.
- Touchscreen technology also needs to be included in the overall concept
of mobile solutions.
Nothing today seems to be as much on the
move as mobile business. Although the advancements seem to be confusing
and create new questions along with opportunities, mySAP Mobile Business
provides concepts to deal with them as they arise. The cornerstone of
SAP's mobile business solution is a solid and stable architecture - SAME
- that allows the enterprise to "go wireless," wherever people, process,
and business scenarios demand it.
SAP and mySAP.com solutions will continue
to play their roles in providing the right infrastructure for advanced
wireless technology, so that embracing mobile technology does not mean
reinventing your business.
Mobile Roles from SAME Allow Employees
to Access What They Need, Wherever They Need It
In these relatively early stages of wireless technology,
applications must be tailored for the small screens of today's
phones and PDAs. The more the application is able to make
use of user roles and location information, the bigger the
benefit to the user.
A selection of mobile roles
that are part of mySAP.com are:
- Field service engineers. Service technicians usually
feel hindered by large laptops. At the same time, they must
be able to manage their schedule and time sheets, to requisition
the parts needed on their calls, and to report details of
a visit. For all this, a mobile device is the perfect tool,
especially when this device can also handle notification
- Salespeople. Interviews with salespeople reveal
that they look to mobile devices to create orders, check
customer and contact data, and check availability of goods
on-the-fly. MiniApps that provide sales support, check sales
order status, and make "soft" customer data available are
key to successful CRM handheld applications.
- Employees. With a travel management scenario, employees
throughout the company can create travel bookings over a
WAP-enabled cellular phone in the SAP R/3 system. Using
an online connection to the "Amadeus" flight booking system,
employees can create a flight request, view the flight's
status, scheduled flight time, aircraft number, departure
and landing time, and confirm their flight. Such functionality
is valuable not only for checking flight schedules, but
also for rearranging flights online. Functionality planned
for the future includes detailed hotel information, updates
on availability of hotels and cars, and detailed overviews
of employees' travel plans.
- Managers. Reporting is a key function of every
manager. In some cases, immediate availability of a small
set of key figures is important, so there is a scenario
for quick-and-easy access of data stored in the mySAP Business
Information Warehouse (BW) via a WAP-enabled phone. This
can be combined with the BW functionality of alert reporting,
and therefore support sales managers with information stored
Peter Wesche received his degree in mathematics in 1978 and worked
in management and program development in the retail and import/export
industries. In 1987, he joined SAP AG in Walldorf to develop a retail
system. With the introduction of the R/3 system in 1990, Peter took
the position of development manager for the new SAP Retail product.
In 1995, he took the position of Director of Product Management.
Since mid-2000, Peter is responsible for solution-building for mySAP
1 Third-generation technology. For example,
3G devices might incorporate the Internet, multimedia messaging,
and multi-mode radio.
2 Under the leadership of manufacturers
Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, and phone.com (formerly Unwired Planet)
among others. For more information, visit www.wapforum.com.
3 The World Wide Web Consortium. For
more information, see www.w3.org
4 SAP's Enterprise Buyer Professional
5 Transport Layer Security.
6 Transmission Control Protocol
7 Internet Protocol.