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Q and A


Transcript: Q&A with Ashish Saxena on Mobility and SAP CRM

by Antoine Cadot-Wood

I recently moderated a web forum with CRM Expert author Ashish Saxena on evaluating options and planning  for CRM mobility projects for Sales & Service. Ashish took questions on planning a mobility assessment, building a mobility project team, timelines, UI requirements, and other topics.

For the full Q&A, you can view the questions and Ashish’s responses in the CRM Forum, or read excerpts from the transcript of the Q&A below.

Antoine Cadot-Wood (moderator): Welcome to today's forum on your mobility options for CRM Sales & Service. This is a great opportunity to ask your questions on the array of CRM mobility solutions for SAP customers, and to ask CRM expert Ashish Saxena, coauthor of the recent CRM Expert article “A Step-by-Step Guide to Select a Mobility Platform That Supports Sales and Service,” for his advice on how to evaluate your current mobility needs and next steps.

Ashish, thank you for joining us today! Before you respond to the questions coming in, I'd like to start with one that stems from your article and your recent interview on Insider Learning Network:

Could you describe for our guests today what the goals are of a mobility assessment? What is such an assessment trying to accomplish?

Ashish Saxena: The typical goals of the mobility assessment are:
- Establish a mobility vision and roadmap and align mobility initiatives to business goals
- Understand the mobility solution options and choose the right long term solution that meets the business requirements
- Ensure high user adoption of mobility solutions
- Reduce mobility project risk by understanding what it takes to do a mobility implementation, correct choice of platform, devices, packaged applications.
- Understanding the TCO (Total cost of ownership) and measuring ROI (Return on Investment) for mobility initiatives

Scott Priest: I have a question about integration -- are there any concerns with speed/performance with the integration strategy for Sybase Mobile Sales (i.e., Sybase Unwired, connecting to SAP NetWeaver Mobile to get to SAP CRM)? Any steps you recommend to avoid performance issues?

Ashish Saxena: SAP Netweaver Mobile as well as SUP are highly scalable and support a large number of devices. One thing we should definitely look at restricting relevant data to the mobile user. Not all data should be sent to all
mobile devices. Master data as well transaction data should be restricted based on sales territory as an example.

Regarding performance, the mobile app should not too intensive with lots of data entry fields and processing. The mobile app should solve the business issue with least amount of clicks and a nice UI.

Andrea Haynes: Hello Ashish,
What factors can help lower longer-term maintenance and implementation costs when it comes to CRM mobile solutions?

Ashish Saxena: Hi Andrea,
Lower maintenance costs can be achieved by buying off the shelf mobile apps from a reputed vendor with a robust and established solution. Similarly off the shelf apps should be easy to implement. Standardizing on specific mobile device would als o help reduce maintenance and implementation cost. Having a global mobility strategy would also help define the mobility vision, scope etc and also monitor ROI /TCO, etc.

Laura Casasanto: Hi Ashish,
For a Mobility implementation, what should a project team look like? From your experience, what parts of the business do they come from and what skills have you seen that are most valuable? Are mobility-related projects quicker than module implementation projects? 

Ashish Saxena: The project team would typically comprise of a project manager, Mobile developer for Mobility Apps, Sybase resource (assuming you are using Sybase), SAP CRM Development resource with NetWeaver experience and SAP CRM Functional Resource. The numbers would depend on the scope and complexity of the mobility app and integration with SAP CRM.

Mobility projects are typically much smaller than SAP CRM implementations. It could be done in approx 3 months for a medium complexity project.
Business involvement is key for mobility apps. For Sales mobility apps, you should get a business lead from Field Sales, Field Sales from different regions and divisions, Backend SAP CRM business resource should be involved.

Scott Wallask: Hi Ashish -- Nice to talk to you again. Do mobility assessments typically deal with any security concerns? And if they do, how do you examine mobility security as part of the bigger assessment? 

Ashish Saxena: Same here. Mobility assessments also address security concerns like who should own the device, which data should be secured and encrypted, which apps should be provided to which users. What happens if the employee leaves the organization? What happens to the data that is stored in the mobile device? Similarly, what happens if the employee loses the mobile device?

A high-level mo bility governance policy would be included as a part of the assessment. A detailed Governance policy can defined during the early part of project implementation

Amy Thistle: Do you have any recommendations for handling 'bring your own device' shops? What factors have to be accounted for when the CIO absolutely insists on keeping his iPhone?

Ashish Saxena: "Bring your own device" is probably better for employees as they don't have to carry two mobile devices. I would personally prefer that. However I have seen companies supporting both "bring your own device" as well as provide official devices. It depends on the security issues and the mobility governance policy of the company.

If the CIO insists on using his/her own device, key factors that have to be taken into account are:  security, supported mobile device or devices, personal and official data, governance policy, mobile app support for the device, etc.

M.S. Hein: What are the options for a sales force needs access to both CRM and ERP data? Is there one solution that supports both? Or do you recommend another approach?

Ashish Saxena: Thanks. Good question. Other people have also asked this question.

Typically the mobility apps should be able to talk to both SAP CRM and SAP ECC. However there are hardly any mobility apps currently that support both SAP CRM and SAP ECC. However I think there should be mobility apps supporting both systems should be available shortly. We are in the process of developing one.

Dave Hannon: Ashish, I've read recently that some IT orgs are having trouble finding developers with mobile expertise. Do you see this at many companies today? If so, any tips on:
1. Where SAP customers can find that expertise and
2. Where a developer might go to improve their own mobile ex pertise?

Ashish Saxena: Mobility developers with mobile expertise for business apps are definitely in short supply. There are plenty of them for consumer apps, especially in IOS and Android space. Sybase resources as well as NetWeaver resources are also not found easily.

You can get mobility expertise offshore, like India, if cost is a concern. You will get good mobility resources with consumer app expertise there. You can also look at mobility companies who can provide resources or apps. We are one of them.

Sybase and SAP provide training for their products. Apple and Android also have training classes which can be leveraged.

GaryByrne: Hi Ashish,
To follow up on Amy's question, what are some of the specific security issues that that go along with employees using personal devices to run a company's mobile apps?

Ashish Saxena: Specific issues could be how secure is the data, is the mobile data encrypyted, what happens to the company data if the employees leaves the company or looses the phone, Is the data transmission encrypted etc

Bette Ferris: Ashish,
When evaluating software options, what do you recommend as criteria to get an optimal UI?

Ashish Saxena:
- Least number of clicks
- Easy and quick navigation
- Least amount of data entry by the user
- Drop downs are very helpful. A long list of drop downs is not a good idea
- Device form factor also helps. iPad is loved by all.
- Performance. Users don't like to see a spinning wheel!

Ashish Saxena: Hi everyone,

Thanks to everyone participating in this forum. Please do not hesitate to email me at or call me at 425-785-1052. Below is some information about myself and my company.

I am a Director at Accrete Solutions focusing on SAP CRM and Mobility solutions. I have about 15 years of SAP experience with last 8 years being in SAP CRM. For the last two years, I am focusing on deploying and developing mobility solutions for CRM Service and Sales.

Accrete Solutions is currently developing mobility apps for Service and Sales which integrate with SAP CRM as well as SAP ECC using Sybase. We also do mobility strategy and design work for our clients.

Antoine Cadot-Wood (moderator): Thanks to all who followed the discussion today!

A full summary of all the questions will be available here in the CRM Forum and in the CRM Group on Insider Learning Network.  You can also listen to a recent interview with Ashish with his thoughts on where the mobility market is heading and advice on doing a full mobile evaluation. I encourage you to join the CRM Group for ongoing information and additional resources, including tips from CRM Expert articles and SAPinsider CRM conferences, learn about future live Forums, and more.

And finally, thank you again to Ashish Saxena of Accrete Solutions for taking these questions today!

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