In April of this year, SAP announced its partnership with three major mobile app development companies: Sencha, Appcelerator, and PhoneGap (acquired by Adobe last year). At the same time, the software company laid out its plans to acquire Syclo, the leading provider of apps for enterprise asset management and field services. More recently, SAP introduced some important new features to SAP Store, enabling customers to purchase mobile enterprise apps online for the first time.
Let’s take a look at these new developments within the broader context of SAP’s mobile platform strategy:
SAP’s mobile platform: Putting flexibility first
SAP’s mobile platform enables companies to develop and deploy apps and manage mobile apps and devices throughout their lifecycle, thanks to the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) for app development and Afaria for deployment and device management.
As the market for mobile apps and devices continues to grow and change at a rapid rate, not only in the consumer market but also for the enterprise, it is crucial that businesses are able to quickly adapt to new standards and technology. That’s why SAP puts such an emphasis on flexibility and openness in its mobile platform. This strategy can be seen on an operational level, where customers have the choice to deploy the platform on-premise or in the cloud, as well as on a technical level: mobile enterprise apps developed on the SAP platform connect to both SAP backend systems and non-SAP backend systems.
The new partnerships with Sencha, Appcelerator, and PhoneGap also embody this strategy. Collectively, these organizations represent around four million mobile app developers. Add to that the two million developers in the SAP Developer Network, and SAP is now enabling six million developers to build mobile enterprise apps with their preferred client architecture – whether that is a native app, hybrid web container, web app (HTML5), or even a text message-based app.
But the mobile enterprise market is also shifting in other ways. As Vishy Gopalakrishnan, Global Center of Excellence for Mobile Solutions SAP, explained, companies want to connect not only with their employees through the mobile channel, but also with their customers. Banks offer mobile banking apps, and retailers have a mobile retail channel. In other words, enterprise apps are no longer strictly business-to-employee (B-to-E), but increasingly business-to-consumer (B-to-C).
To address this new demand, SAP will invest in those industries that have a high amount of contact with the end consumer, including banking, retail, telecommunications, travel and hospitality, media and entertainment, and automotive. SAP will actively roll out B-to-C apps in this space. In addition, SAP will continue to invest in mobile enterprise apps for core applications such as enterprise asset management. The planned acquisition of Syclo, the leading provider of apps for the utilities industries, delivers on that goal.
For the most part, however, SAP plans for much of the innovation and growth in the mobile space to come from partners. So it’s fitting that along with the announcement of new partnerships, SAP also released several important innovations for the SAP Store.
Read about these innovations on the next page.
SAP Store: New and improved
Last year at SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, SAP announced its intention to reach one billion customers by 2015, mainly by growing its mobile app business. Several months later in Madrid, the software company made headway towards this goal with the launch of SAP Store, the home for all mobile apps developed by SAP and its partners. More recently, at SAPPHIRE NOW 2012 in Orlando, SAP announced further progress along its mobile roadmap. Namely, customers are now able to purchase SAP apps directly in the SAP Store.
Previously, the web site simply enabled users to search for and discover apps according to the industry and line of business targeted, supported OS and devices, SAP back-end requirements, regional and language availability, and so on. Now, just like in the iTunes App Store or the Android Marketplace, enterprise users can move from evaluating to purchasing an app in one click. The invoice is generated immediately.
This new feature is all about making the SAP Store more useful and convenient for end users. Likewise, the release of a native app for Android-based devices and an HTML5 version enable a much larger audience to comfortably navigate the SAP Store and make purchases on-the-go, from any location.
In the future, SAP will continue to focus on improving user experience. Thus, the next step, according to Usman Sheikh, vice president of e-channel mobile sales at SAP, is to deploy the purchased app directly onto employee devices. SAP is currently working on creating app stores for companies to use internally, where employees can see which apps are available and download them onto their mobile device.