Magazine Article | June 26, 2012

Bringing Mobility To Enterprise Applications

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

By David Krebs, VP of mobile and wireless, VDC Research,

SAP’s focus on mobility is making an impact on the industry.

With the ever-predictable siren for the “year of mobile,” it may have finally arrived. While it has been more of a progression than an overnight sensation, there have been some fairly significant recent events that have propelled the market forward. We finally have the mobile devices that are capable of supporting engaging mobile applications, and with the advent of the tablet we have a truly mobile device with sufficient display real estate. Another major development — that has previously been woefully absent — has been the support and direct investment in mobile solutions by the larger enterprise software vendor community. While that challenge remains acute, SAP, the leading ERP (enterprise resource planning) vendor, is making it very clear that mobility represents a major anchor of its most recent transformation. While enterprise software vendors have historically touted mobile strategies and capabilities, these (SAP’s included) could largely be chalked up to either “vapor ware” or extremely poorly designed solutions.

With the acquisition of Sybase in 2010, and more recently of Syclo, SAP is upping the ante. Having spent several days at SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW event in May, one thing is clear: No one at SAP dares mention ERP. While this ERP disassociation has evolved as a message and strategy over the past several years, it clearly manifested itself at this event. Once again, following the footsteps of R3 and Netweaver among others, SAP is attempting to innovate without disrupting. That SAP struggled in identifying and executing its most recent transformation is perhaps an overstatement. However, the usability of SAP’s core solutions lagged behind emerging competitors’, resulting in lower utility of the overall platform. In addition, the gaps in its cloud services were increasingly evident. Recognizing these deficiencies is resulting in one of the most ambitious transformations of SAP.

The ERP Transformation
The realization of this transformation is rooted in three strategic thrusts: the cloud, high-definition audio video network alliance (HANA) in memory computing, and … mobility. SAP recognizes that while the original value proposition of integrated enterprise platforms may still be relevant, the articulation of that strategy has evolved considerably. The ERP gold rush of the late ’90s is over. Moreover, the need for modernizing traditional — perhaps even legacy — ERP solutions is more apparent than ever before. In short, ERP solutions need to become more user-centric and relevant to more types of users in the enterprise, rather than just continuing to focus narrowly on enterpriselevel process decision makers. For example, just getting more process agility isn’t valuable to an information-centric user who uses reports and dashboards to change the business. What SAP is attempting to accomplish — especially with mobile — is to transform business processes by making critical business data intelligence more available, in real time, on virtually any platform, to broader groups of highly distributed users through a secure and scalable architecture.

Mobility Is Taking Off
Having tracked enterprise mobility solutions over the past decade, VDC recognizes the value and importance of “mobilizing” key enterprise assets. In fact, we have long argued that for the enterprise mobility market to scale beyond point-specific line-of-business applications common across many industries, significant investments and commitments from major enterprise software vendors would be required. That is not to say that line-ofbusiness applications are no longer the center or starting point for many enterprise mobility initiatives — they are — however, the approach enterprises and their technology partners are taking to implement mobile solutions is changing dramatically. Trends like bring your own device (BYOD) and the democratization of IT are just some of the critical developments propelling mobility within enterprise organizations.

To better track these trends and validate this opportunity, VDC Research is launching a new “Voice of the Customer: Bringing Mobility to Enterprise Applications” research service. This service is designed to provide critical information surrounding the opportunities and challenges around introducing mobility into enterprise organizations from the decision maker’s perspective. We are looking forward to sharing more soon.