SAP Mobile Strategy Explained

22 October 2009

John Appleby

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

Why three strategic partnerships are better than the sum of their parts.

Driving employee value

Mobile applications enable your employees to be productive at times when they wouldn't normally be, allowing your organisation to derive better value from your greatest assets. This is particularly important in a downturn, because you have limited resources and want to maximise their value.

What's more, crucial information can be updated when it matters, not written down on scraps of paper and forgotten about. This will enhance the data quality of your central systems and reduce wasted hours spent updating information at a later date.

What makes a killer app?

Mobile devices are about keeping it simple. The reason why the Blackberry flew off the shelves on release was because of the one thing it did really well - it provided email at your fingertips in a reliable and easy to use package.

Apple did the same with the iPhone. It took something people could relate to - the iPod - and bolted a phone on. In the early stages both the Blackberry and the iPhone lacked a number of features compared to their competitors, e.g. the functionality to forward text messages. However, bells and whistles don't matter when you do one crucial thing well.

The same applies if you're thinking about taking one of your business processes and making it available to a handheld audience. Forget the bells and whistles; just make something work really well.

Becoming device agnostic

There is little brand loyalty in the mobile marketplace. Consumers will choose what they perceive to be right at that point in time, often buying a new device every 12 months. Corporate mobile device consumers are less fickle, but the success of Apple's iPhone in the business marketplace suggests business users are starting to drive acquisition - Blackberry market share in the US recently dropped for the first time since 2005.

Question: So what is an Enterprise software vendor with typical software lifecycles of five years or more to do, in a marketplace that transforms itself in half that time? Answer: partner with organisations that are experts in agility - this is exactly what SAP has done.

SAP realised that just as it couldn't align to a mobile platform, neither could it align to a single software vendor for the required breadth of industry verticals. Instead, it chose RIM for its heavyweight enterprise experience, Sybase for its cross platform expertise and Syclo for its deep industry knowledge.

Research in Motion (RIM) - CRM 2007

SAP's CRM team know white-collar workers favour the Blackberry platform. It partnered with RIM to produce a mobile Sales Force Automation application, enabling salespeople to be productive on the move. Like other RIM applications, it's easy to use, is secured right from the device to the CRM 2007 platform, and is wipeable remotely.

Sybase - business process alignment

Sybase is a veteran of the mobile marketplace, recognised by Gartner in the magic quadrant of Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms. In a few short months it has built its SAP portfolio to produce a set of applications that focus on the platform and business process alignment; from HR self-service to procurement, to a mobile inbox application alongside another for workflow based environments. What?' more, the Sybase solution runs identically on iPhone and Windows Mobile platforms and its platform-based approach will support future vendors, allowing it to weather the fickle mobile marketplace.

As you might imagine, Sybase's SAP partnership is geared towards the white-collar industry sectors. If you have an existing HR Self Service or CRM Sales Force Automation SAP solution and you are looking to leverage the power of a mobile workforce, then Sybase may give you a compressed implementation cycle and reduced time to ROI - whilst allowing a mobile platform for future business processes.

Syclo ' industry expertise

Syclo has been providing blue-collar industry experience for years. When SAP decided to partner with Syclo, it took the company just a few days to certify its mobile platform. Its  Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Mobile Asset Management (MAU) applications are available right now. What's more, unlike the NetWeaver based EAM and MAU solutions that preceded them, they scale to thousands of seats and are easily customisable to your needs. As you would expect, they support ruggedised devices for tough environments.

Syclo is also about to release its CRM Field Service application. Being industry focused, the strengths of the CRM application are ease of deployment/device management, scalability, and a simple upgrade path to future-proof your investment.


The meteoric rise of Apple's App Store means consumers are becoming used to having rich and tactile applications on tap. They are turning to business software vendors to provide the same, and organisations such as have responded in kind. In partnering with RIM, Sybase and Syclo, SAP has provided the agility of mobile platforms that corporate customers require, whilst also delivering the enterprise security and stability SAP customers are used to.

View comments


Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.

About the author

John Appleby

Global Head of Sales

I've always been passionate about new technology. I cut my teeth helping global financial services and consumer goods companies build data warehouses to manage their business - especially when they wanted to run faster.

These days, I travel weekly across continents, helping clients differentiate themselves using analytics technologies. This then involved building a team to design the solution, make it work and lead it through to successful completion.

I believe that in-memory computing is radically changing the face of business so you can ask me about SAP HANA, or about any other data platform like DB2 BLU, Hadoop or MongoDB for that matter.

I'm passionate that giving back to the community reaps long-term rewards and this has shaped the last few years of my career - being a contributor to knowledge sharing websites as an SAP Mentor; and a sometime advisor to Wall Street investors on emerging technologies and those companies bringing to market new innovations.

When I'm not busy designing in-memory apps, you may find me pounding the pavement to the beat of music in the hilly suburbs of Philadelphia, or traveling the world to meet new people and new cultures.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

We use cookies to provide you with the best browsing experience. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies.