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Author's profile photo John Appleby

SAP acquire Sybase – First impressions what this means to SAP Mobile Strategy

Sybase is SAP’s largest acquisition ever at an estimated $5.8bn – bigger than Business Objects, which was a mere $4.8bn. But, what does it mean to SAP customers and their strategy on Enterprise Mobility? This blog looks to provide some insight.

I was out to dinner with Sybase Inc’s CTO for Enterprise Mobility, Jagdish Bansiya, a few months back and I remember asking him why SAP hadn’t bought Sybase yet and what was behind the rumours in the analyst industry. He didn’t really answer my question and it’s no wonder why.

From a mobile perspective it asks some very serious questions. Mostly, it raises a question as to what the co-innovation strategy was all about and whether it still has any meaning. For those of you unfamiliar around this, SAP co-innovated with 3 partners around mobility. There’s a good overview of what it looked like in my blog, Building a SAP Mobile Strategy. In essence SAP coinnovated with RIM around Mobile Sales for RIM – Sybase have since taken this on, Sybase around Mobile Sales for Windows Mobile & iPhone and ERP Workflow, and Syclo for Mobile Asset Management and CRM Field Service.

The problem with the coinnovation model was this. SAP customers are looking to build a mobile strategy against a MEAP – Mobile Enterprise Application Platform. The purpose of this is simple – build one mobile platform and then build all the apps you need on top of it. Consolidate cost and simplify infrastructure and hopefully on the way, support multiple device platforms e.g. Blackberry for your salesforce, and ruggest Motorola Windows Mobile devices for your field service agents.

But, if you need both (for example) CRM salesforce automation, and CRM field service, then you end up with 2 MEAPs – Sybase and Syclo both claim to be a MEAP as well as a co-innovator. And all that doesn’t make a great deal of sense.

Throw into that things like mDSD – Mobile Direct Store Delivery. SAP have a product, mDSD 4.0 which is going into Ramp Up right now, based directly on the NetWeaver Mobile 7.1 platform. However this doesn’t fit into either mobile co-innovation strategy! SAP suggest quietly that mDSD is being replaced after this release by something from one of the co-innovation partners, but which one seems unclear.

If you’re as confused as I am right now, then you will understand how the confusion in the market stands to lead to confused customers and therefore extended sales cycles – reducing innovation and reducing the potential benefits. SAP know that they have to clarify their messaging in order to allow customers to buy, and the Sybase acquisition is a pretty clear indication of what is to come.

I’ve been working with Sybase SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform) since the co-innovation was announced nearly a year ago and it is an excellent mobile platform. It supports RIM, iPhone and Windows Mobile on a single development platform and the CRM Mobile Sales app is architecturally a sign of things to come. It builds on SAP standard extensions to pull data in and out of CRM and ERP and is stable and scalable.

In order for SAP and Sybase “an SAP company” get it right, they will build out a portfolio of customisable apps covering the major SAP mobile scenarios and running on a variety of mobile devices. Plus support up and coming mobile platforms, for example Windows Mobile 7 and Google Android. If Sybase iAnywhere can continue to be relatively agile under SAP leadership and continue to produce product apace, SAP have made a very good decision indeed.

What does this announcement mean to Syclo? Time will tell – but Syclo have a niche in the energy industry building turnkey and customer specific mobile applications for very large number of users. It seems likely that Syclo will continue to do exactly this sort of application, and their ability to scale their Agentry platform out to work on more than just Windows Mobile will define their ability to compete in this market.

In conclusion SAP are in a really excellent space after this acquisition, but the clarity of messaging in Sapphire Orlando will be key to getting customers into the right frame of mind to build their mobile strategy going forwards. If you’re in Orlando, I look forward to seeing you out there!

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hello John,

      What are your thoughts on mobile micro-applications in the new world?

      Author's profile photo Sergio Ferrari
      Sergio Ferrari
      I had a relevant comment on my blog about economics. Have a look here:
      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      It’s the question at the top of many people’s mind - SAP customers, partners, prospects, employees and the analyst community.  Now that SAP has shown their hand and made a clear decision to acquire market leading MEAP provider Sybase for 6 big ones, and yes $6 billion, what will happen to the future of the Syclo MEAP Agentry platform? Is there any reason to have two MEAP providers? Two technology platforms, two market messages, two support organizations, two road maps? If I were SAP what would I intend to do? Promote a third party solution MEAP (Syclo) or their own MEAP application? I wonder! 
      An SAP spokesman said today: "We remain committed to our open ecosystem strategy and enabling customer choice by working with a range of partners that drive customer value.’’  We all know that when an organization pays billions of dollars to acquire another company their shareholders are going to look for fast return on investment.  Do customers really have a choice on mobile? 
      I spent time today with Sybase and the SAP community at SAPPHIRE and there was a common perception that in the long term (meaning as soon as the acquisition is completed) the de-facto standard for mobilisation of SAP back end systems is going to be Sybase, whether it’s for SAP CRM, SAP Enterprise Asset Management or field service..  
      It is also expected that in the long term SAP will jointly develop the field services and mobile asset management capabilities that up to now Syclo has specialized in. It is also expected that SAP will eventually push customers toward an SAP-Sybase platform.  SAP has the knowledge, technology and people to develop the Syclo EAM template functionality without much trouble. 
      RIM have the customer base to ensure its continued growth irrespective of SAP and Syclo. 
      Two questions which are still unclear are what will happen to RIM and SAP Mobil Asset Management?  Will SAP build on the SAP NetWeaver platform using Sybase? Whatever the answer, one thing is clear, SAP finally has a company wide mobile strategy.  Unlike the short-lived co-innovation partnership, this one is here to say, like it or hate it.  Well done SAP, customers can really benefit from this acquisition.