For a Modern Mobility Strategy

Feature Article | November 14, 2005 by admin

Enterprise mobility is not a new concept – most businesses have been running some sort of mobilized business processes for years now. But today, the mobile space has changed considerably. For some functions, market adoption is so great that mobile capabilities are a competitive necessity rather than a competitive edge. Now, it’s no longer inevitable that implementing a mobile solution will require in-house expertise or deployment resources that normally accompany a one-off solution. Standard solutions, with minimal customization, can achieve the same goals with lower costs when it comes to deployment and long-term maintenance. With SAP Solutions for Mobile Business and SAP NetWeaver Mobile, customers can leverage their existing SAP infrastructure, lower integration costs, and still meet very specific mobile technology goals.

Three types of mobile solutions

Many companies make the mistake of taking a reactive approach to new mobile requirements as they see a need. But if every new mobile scenario requires a custom solution, an enterprise is facing some big infrastructure and maintenance headaches. Without understanding the complete picture, customers could implement a mobile solution that cannot easily extend to meet the enterprise mobility needs of their entire organization. This could be a costly mistake if, for example, they were to have multiple middleware servers each supporting their own custom mobile solution.
A more strategic view of mobile solutions looks for common elements across a mobile solution set, which customers could leverage for their industry or for workers in a particular user group. With this approach, customers would consider the category of mobile functionality:

  • Functional mobile solutions, for tasks shared by a specific group of users: These include solutions for a particular team of users, such as salespeople or service teams out in the field.
  • Horizontal mobile solutions, for more general uses across a company: These include expense reporting solutions such as time or travel management, or “casual use” scenarios such as key performance indicator reporting, or the ability to approve workflows on the fly.
  • Industry mobile solutions, for a specific industry: Some industries today require mobility for employees to do their jobs. Manufacturers in the consumer package goods industry, for example, might require a mobile direct store delivery solution so that they can deliver products on demand directly to retail stores, priced accordingly and based on actual onsite consumption, in real time.

Functional scenarios

Functional scenarios attend to the needs of a particular group of users across industries but with a common function, and they frequently are among the most mission-critical tasks. Here, a single scenario can cover a lot of ground. For example, the typical mobile service scenario encompasses internal and external customer service and plant maintenance, but could support a variety of users, including service representatives, internal field engineers, and external service professionals. Service representatives visit customers, need to record complaints about goods or services, and record service orders at the customer site. They can also access master data and maintain records about service activities. Internal field engineers perform plant maintenance tasks from a mobile device at customer sites or within plants while disconnected from the enterprise systems. External service professionals must plan and assign service requests to the appropriate service representative based on workers’ availability and competency. From a functional scenario perspective, enterprises must ask: Can we deploy a mobile service solution for the field service organization and a mobile sales solution for the sales teams, all utilizing the same infrastructure and without having to maintain custom interfaces to the backend systems?

Horizontal mobile scenarios

Horizontal mobile scenarios usually serve a common business need that is felt across a wide range of roles and that can apply to almost any enterprise. An example is time and travel management, which aims to significantly reduce organizations’ travel expenditures through implementation of an electronic travel policy. When this solution is used in an industry such as professional services, it can also ensure faster billing cycles, reduced errors, and quicker turnaround of expense claims. From a horizontal application perspective, organizations must determine if they can easily deploy these processes to a wide array of employees and still manage them effectively. Is integration into all the required backend systems available? Is there a common means of managing application deployment and user authentication? And can multiple scenarios run on a user’s mobile device, all utilizing the same client and backend infrastructure? For example, if service engineers require both a mobile service solution and a time and travel solution, can they use them both on their mobile devices as one integrated solution?

Industry mobile solutions

Industry mobile solutions can be considered “killer” mobile applications within their respective industries. For example, the pharmaceutical industry sales force has some unique needs: Sales representatives maintain an electronic inventory of the drug samples they provide to medical practices and institutions. Upon delivery, sales representatives must capture a signature. A mobile solution customized for this industry enables all this to occur electronically. Today, such a “mobile pharma” sales solution is a requirement in order to remain competitive in the industry.
A specific industry solution, however, does not prohibit an organization from using either functional or horizontal solutions. In most cases, these solutions can also be easily customized for a respective industry. In order to apply this information to their business, customers can start by evaluating their mobile business requirements based on the following key questions: Do they need mobile functionality that is purely industry-focused? Do they need a mobile solution that is role-focused, and if so, how many user roles might their organization want to deploy? And, are there common elements across a horizontal or functional solution that would apply to their industry? The answers to these questions should assist customers in avoiding unnecessary complexity and duplication in their enterprise mobility strategy. SAP offers solutions and technology that allow customers to do just that – by leveraging customers’ existing SAP infrastructure – and lower integration costs between SAP and non-SAP systems.

SAP Solutions for Mobile Business

SAP Solutions for Mobile Business

SAP Solutions for Mobile Business

SAP has been in the mobile space for most of a decade, delivering standard mobile solutions from SAP Console to SAP Mobile Time and Travel. In fact, mobile functionality is available throughout the entire mySAP ERP solution set for users across a variety of areas. These offerings – all powered by SAP NetWeaver – provide enterprises with a standardized solution that is seamlessly integrated from the mobile device client to the backend systems. For SAP customers, this means that they can deploy standard mobile solutions with relative ease. For example, if they’re using mySAP CRM, SAP’s mobile capabilities are already embedded in the solution, and they also already exist within SAP NetWeaver. Therefore, there is no need to implement a custom mobile solution on top of what customers currently have in place – it’s already there.

SAP NetWeaver Mobile

SAP NetWeaver Mobile

SAP NetWeaver Mobile

SAP NetWeaver Mobile provides the technical underpinning for each of the SAP Solutions for Mobile Business, and serves as both a development environment and an administration toolset for mobile solutions. SAP NetWeaver Mobile consists of three distinct clients: the Mobile .NET client, the Mobile Java client, and the Mobile browser client. These clients provide a standardized approach to address multiple worker categories and device types. Each of the SAP NetWeaver Mobile clients is targeted at a specific device and role, in order to maximize users’ device capabilities and interactions with the overall solution.

SAP NetWeaver Mobile Clients

SAP NetWeaver Mobile Clients

SAP NetWeaver Mobile provides the quickest and lowest cost method of extending SAP business processes to those employees closest to a company’s customers: their field force. SAP NetWeaver provides inherent integration into the backend system. Since this integration is already there, SAP customers most likely already have it; it’s just a matter of deploying the mobile solution that best fits their business requirements. SAP is providing a full range of mobile solutions already today that respond to the bulk of customer demands. If for some reason these solutions are not fit for a specific industry, SAP is also providing tools for customers and partners to extend the SAP standard mobile solutions, or even enable customers to build completely new solutions.
More information: www.sap.com/mobile and www.sdn.sap.com.

Source: SAP Insider

Howard Beader

Howard Beader

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