Immediacy is the key word and the value of the mobile micro-application to SAP users. Mobile micro-applications are typically lightweight enterprise mobile applications for iPhones, BlackBerrys, and other smart phone devices available through online mobile applications stores. Their ability to quickly and efficiently solve specific problems and provide immediate benefits to the mobile workforce is significant and is rapidly changing the way both the business and the enterprise IT department views mobile solutions.
SAP’s EcoHub is a quick and efficient way to find software companies that are SAP partners and that provide mobile micro-applications. A quick search on EcoHub will list SAP partners like Vivido Labs, Leapfactor, Sky Technologies and others that are releasing dozens of mobile micro-applications for SAP users.
In the past, due to the high development and distribution costs of enterprise mobile software applications, mobile solutions tried to encompass entire end-to-end business processes and build them into large thick client mobile applications. These development projects required lengthy and expensive development efforts. However, with the advent of new mobile software development and distribution paradigms from companies like Apple and RIM, mobile micro-applications can be quickly designed, developed and deployed through the online mobile application stores. Updates about new versions of software can be sent out as email notifications and the version checking features in the App stores can be used to determine which users need the new version.
Specific pain points in the business can now be rapidly addressed with mobile micro-applications that are able to be quickly designed, developed and deployed to solve business inefficiencies in the mobile workforce. This capability to rapidly and cost effectively address problems and make business processes more efficient for the mobile workforce opens up many new opportunities for forward thinking organizations.
The enterprise mobile micro-application industry is just in its infancy, but is making companies stop and consider the possibilities. SAP partners are now solving a rapidly expanding number of business issues with mobile micro-applications. Entire paper- based processes are being mobilized and made available on micro-applications downloadable from iTunes. A few examples of paper-based processes are:
- Management approvals
- Travel requests
- Purchase requests
- Vacation requests
- Expense reports
These traditional processes were often paper-based or required the user to be sitting in front of a computer to complete online. Today, mobile micro-apps on iPhones, Blackberrys and other smart phones connect to the ERP and provide real-time connectivity for the mobile workforce to participate in these business processes in mobile environments. It is time to whiteboard. What do these new capabilities mean to an enterprise? What can be changed and improved that was not possible a few months ago. How can you make your mobile workforce even more efficient?
New technologies often cause fear and uncertainty in an IT organization. However, since enterprise mobile micro-apps are generally available through online mobile application stores and use SaaS business models operated in cloud computing environments, the IT department does not need to fear extra support burdens, but they do need to start considering how to standardize the ways that mobile micro-applications integrate with the ERP.