Over 150 SAP partners and customers gathered in Berlin, Germany, on September 17 for the 8th annual NEO Mobile Business Conference. Event hosts and co-founders of NEO Mobile Business Partners GmbH, Arvin Arora and Jens Beier, set the tone for the event in their opening keynote, which focused on the challenges and opportunities that companies face in mobilizing the business. They touched on familiar concerns such as data security and multi-device support, and then brought up a challenge that, until now, hasn’t received much attention: the increasing diversity of the types of mobile applications being deployed in the enterprise today.
Multi-platform (not multi-device) is the real challenge
The number of mobile enterprise apps has exploded in recent years. There are lightweight applications that support just a few specific functions, and heavy-duty ones that allow users to carry out every imaginable task while on the go. Some apps don’t necessarily need to be connected to the Internet to be useful; others wouldn’t provide any benefit without a network connection. There are employee-centric apps, and increasingly, apps for customer-facing, B2C functions. What is the problem with this diversity of mobile applications?
Inefficiency. At the moment, SAP doesn’t have one mobile platform that supports all these different kinds of apps. The Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP), for example, is for employee-focused apps in various business areas and industries, while Sybase 365 covers B2C apps in lines-of-business like banking and marketing. Syclo’s Agengtry, on the other hand, is a much smaller mobile platform best suited to highly-specialized apps in field service and mobile asset management. As soon as a company starts deploying a mixture of application types, it runs into the challenge of managing security policies, user authorizations, and data transfer parameters across multiple platforms.
3 steps to the new, integrated SAP Mobile Platform
This is why SAP plans to introduce a single, integrated platform. It is referred to today as the SAP Mobile Platform. The road map for the new offering is still subject to change, but Alexander Arnold, head of the Center of Excellence for Mobility in the DACH region at SAP, laid out the current plans in his presentation. According to Arnold, SAP’s transformation from its current multi-platform approach to a unified SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) is expected to occur in three steps.
1. SUP and Agentry are integrated
SUP and Syclo’s Agentry platform, both geared towards employee-focused apps (B2E), will be integrated into SMP 3.0 Enterprise. This will give SAP customers a unified platform for administering, provisioning, and deploying applications within their company. At this stage, SAP also plans to transfer customer-facing apps (B2C) currently running on the Sybase 365 platform to SMP 3.0 Consumer. In addition, SAP will introduce an option for managing employee applications in the cloud: SMP 3.0 Cloud.
2. B2E and B2C Apps are integrated
The next phase, SMP 3.5 Cloud, is expected to integrate SAP’s B2E and B2C platforms. Customers will be able to run various kinds of applications and use cases either on-premise or in the cloud. They will also have access to a single, unified development environment for all application types and a single set of development tools.
3. A single, integrated platform for every application
Finally, SAP plans to bring together every type of application (B2E and B2C) and infrastructure (on-premise and in the cloud) onto a single, integrated platform: SMP 4.0. This will allow SAP customers to use the same logic to manage security, authorization, and data transfer policies across all apps in their enterprise. Furthermore, it will allow customers to combine the platform with other products in SAP’s portfolio. Integration with SAP HANA, for example, would give users real-time insights into their corporate data from a mobile device.