Hasso Plattner’s message at SAPPHIRE NOW 2010 was unmistakable: He took to the stage with his iPhone and iPad and demonstrated how to use the on-demand solution SAP Business ByDesign on mobile devices – including business intelligence functions. Plattner’s demo set the course for SAP’s strategy for the upcoming years: Business software for smartphones and mobile applications is set to dominate the market.
At the sixth Mobile Business Conference, held on July 8 and 9, Thorsten Stephan from SAP had little more to add to the company founder’s presentation when he revealed the company’s mobile business software strategy. As well as on-premises and on-demand, SAP will focus on on-device – in other words, software for mobile devices and mobile applications that you can obtain from a cloud, similar to using a service catalog. For example, it should soon be possible for users to research credit information by smartphone during visits to customers, without having to schlep along a laptop. As Stephan said, mobile applications that you can purchase or hire from a cloud according to need are a great opportunity for SAP partners, who can develop and configure these mini programs.
What’s more, SAP also thought of its customers’ customers. The mobile CRM software will also be enabled for bonus programs and payback systems. When shopping online, customers have to register and verify their identify using their e-mail address or cell phone number anyway. Similarly, they can also participate in bonus programs using e-mail or their cell phone.
Software for all device classes and operating systems
SAP does not plan to cater to just one device or operating system, but will run on all models and product ranges – from the iPhone and BlackBerry through Windows Phone and Android. According to Stephan, BlackBerry users are most interested in e-mail and calendar functions, so the business software will have to integrate smoothly with these functions. The iPhone, on the other hand, owes much of its popularity to its large touchscreen, which is ideal for analyses, graphics, dashboards, and business intelligence functions.
The acquisition of Sybase, the market leader in mobile business software, recently underlined SAP’s commitment to its mobile software strategy. Stephan asked his audience for understanding about his not being able to reveal more detailed information, because SAP and Sybase are currently in a “quiet period” after the sales negotiations. However, he did announce new software products.
For example, Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM will also soon be available for BlackBerrys. Furthermore, SAP is working with mobile software technology provider Syclo, headquartered near Chicago, to develop new software, including SMART Service Manager for SAP CRM and SMART Work Manager for SAP ERP.
And yet more applications are in the pipeline. Among them are Employee Research, which people can use to search for company employees and their contact details; CRM/ERP Search, which enables users to update addresses and customer data with their smartphone; Travel Receipts for entering travel expenses and documents in SAP; and dashboards for analyses and forecasts.
The participants at the Mobile Business Conference were visibly impressed by SAP’s mobile software strategy, especially as far as the mobile applications were concerned. In discussions with attendees at the event, the SAP.info editorial team learnt that customers had been waiting for such developments for a long time.
Application developments for iPhones
At the two-day conference, salespeople, marketing specialists, software developers, and other experts had the opportunity to learn about deploying mobile software in a business environment and watch demos of technical scenarios and back-end solutions. There were seven technology workshops, eight customer presentations, and 14 partner presentations.
Topics included SAP NetWeaver Mobile 7.1, the SAP Mobile Sales application, and iPhone application developments. At the partner exhibition, not only T-Mobile, Adobe, and Sybase had their products on display, but participants also had the chance to get to grips with ruggedized notebooks and PDAs, suitable for use in harsh environments such as on building sites. Finally, SAP partner NEO Business Partners, which hosted the Mobile Business Conference, presented its NEO Mobile Suite and gave a live demonstration.