SAP.info: Mr. Tischner, six months ago, you said you were convinced that Windows 8 would outstrip other mobile operating systems. Has your opinion changed at all?
Gotthard Tischner: My impression is that this prediction is coming true. Admittedly, you can see that Microsoft Surface is not quite on par with the iPad. But this is only the first release, after all. The Apple product has already passed through several improvement cycles.
You’re currently working on a proof of concept for a DAX corporation and looking at Microsoft as your first option?
That’s right. We’re working on an idea for linking up existing reporting with online reporting. We’ll definitely be using the new SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio front-end tool on Surface for the online functions.
Why Surface and why Windows 8?
First of all, Microsoft has designed its Surface device with business users in mind and has given serious attention to their needs. In addition, the device is based on an operating system that runs on PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Unlike Apple and Android devices, Surface and other Windows 8 tablets let you use a mouse. And you can choose between the tile interface and the conventional Windows desktop. You kind of get the feeling that the engineers couldn’t quite bring themselves to leave anything out.
Microsoft – unlike Apple – doesn’t try to dictate how the world should function. Placing the cursor in the right place in a text on the iPad takes a bit of fiddling. So it makes sense to be able to use a mouse or a digital pen and to have the flexibility to choose between different media. This flexibility is what makes Surface more of an all-round option for business users, and it’s what has been missing with the iPad so far, which is why a whole separate market for iPad accessories has sprung up.
Next page: cNews app in Windows Store
SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann has described Surface as a combination of tablet and laptop. Would you agree?
That’s true. Take the Microsoft Office package. You can run it on Surface without any problems. If you want to use MS Office in the Apple world, you have to use tools that often don’t work 100% – particularly in terms of compatibility. Ultimately, these tools do little more than provide rudimentary support for working with texts, spreadsheets, and other programs.
You’ve now developed your “cNews” BI app as a Windows 8 app. The Windows 8 app market is still fairly small. Was it difficult to develop the app and take it to the Microsoft Store?
We completely redeveloped the app for Windows 8, particularly so that we could get fully integrated into the new operating concept. As far as our development effort is concerned, it was about the same as for an app in the Apple App Store.
What can the app do?
The great thing about our app is that it bridges the gap between a document-based reporting system and analysis functions in a company’s live systems. It creates a management information system that provides insight based on both management reports and online figures and analyses. And we are now also working with SAP and its new BI tool, SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio.
Next page: Do employees want to use Windows 8 devices?
Logistics specialist Schindler succumbed to pressure from its employees and purchased iPads. Other devices – like Surface – won’t get a look-in until the costs of the iPads have been amortized. Do you think that the iPad is so firmly fixed in the heads of consumers that other devices really don’t stand a chance?
It’s important to remember that businesses primarily use tablets for business functions. So the decision for or against a tablet will inevitably be influenced by the infrastructure that is in place at the company.
Also, switching to a different device does not pose any particular difficulty for employees, because they can select the same interface on their PC as they have on their tablet. They’re also familiar with how to use the programs, a keyboard, and a mouse.
So the deciding factor is whether the device will benefit the company and make it more productive?
People often want to be able to work on their tablet as well as consume content on them.
One last question: What kind of tablet do you own for your personal use?
I’m still using an iPad, but I’m waiting with great anticipation for Surface Pro to start selling in Europe.