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Author's profile photo John Appleby

SAP Influencers Summit 2010 – Will SAP deliver some real content on Enterprise Mobility?

Some Background

SAP spent but this year with the acquisition of Sybase Inc. and as I have said before, a substantial amount of the reason to buy Sybase was to acquire Sybase’s end-end mobility platform in the form of the iAnywhere business unit.

SAP aspires to reach 1bn people by 2014 – and by this they mean that many people interacting with SAP in some way. The only way to do this is with Enterprise Mobility. Most people interact indirectly with SAP right now – your banks, utility companies, supermarkets and oil companies that you buy from daily run SAP. But you interact with SAP through a point of conduit – a sales or service representative usually.

Enterprise Mobility changes that and means that you can interact with SAP directly through your mobile device, without a representative from the company you are engaging with. This is SAP’s vision.

So SAP bought a little company called Sybase and already technically now interacts with 3bn people through Sybase’s 365 platform that runs many of the large SMS platforms – for example things like X-Factor. X-Factor runs SAP. Maybe. 

How does SAP get from Strategy-to-Execution?

The problem is that SAP has 2 mobile platforms which are interlinked and make things very hard.

SAP Unwired Platform. This is the artist formally known as Sybase Unwired Platform and it is an Enterprise Mobility platform that allows you to build mobile enterprise apps that are multi-device.

NetWeaver Mobile. The bad news is that the apps SAP built so far require NetWeaver Mobile, i.e. you need 2 sets of mobile middleware. The indication is that SAP are going to ditch NetWeaver Mobile and build that functionality into the SAP Unwired Platform but no formal announcement has been made.

And here’s where the Influencer Summit comes in. SAP have had enough time to create the Mobile Business Unit and they know they need to deliver product for SAPPHIRE 2011, and just as importantly deliver real product for people to train up on by TechEd 2011. If not, the customers, analysts and shareholders risk becoming worried about how SAP spent $4.8bn.

What about Gateway?

Gateway is SAP’s go to market platform for lightweight mobile applications. The first gateway application has been submitted in the name of Duet Enterprise and it seems to be going well. In TechEd in Bangalore they finally got the Gateway platform up and running and people were able to build mobile apps.

I’m hoping we will hear a bit more detail behind Gateway at the Summit and perhaps some meat on the licensing model, which has so far remained unspoken. Let’s hope it’s a model that allows us to build huge user volumes without a massive cost per user – that is the point of Gateway after all.

What about the issue of culture?

I’ve written before about the concerns of the cultural differences between Sybase and SAP. The jury is out on this now, but once again I think that SAP have missed a trick in the Influencers Summit.

They have fronted a good bunch of people from the SAP side. Vishal Sikka, CTO. Sanjay Poonen, EVP of Analytics, Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer, and a bunch of other great executives that have taken the time out to come to Santa Clara for the Summit. These are people with both content and accountability.

From the Sybase side they have fronted yet another marketing person – Raj Nathan – Chief Marketing Officer. This is the same as they did in TechEd and it seems to be the Sybase way, to control information delivery. I don’t know Raj and perhaps he is the man with content but actually I’d rather have seen John Chen (EVP of the SAP Mobile Business Unit), Billy Ho (General Manager of the SAP Mobile Business Unit) or Thorsten Steffen (SVP of Mobile Applications).

For me, any of those 3 people would have been the people with the content and accountability rather than the marketing speak that we got in TechEd. So the gauntlet is out there this time for the Mobile Business unit to provide some real content about roadmaps.


SAP has some way to go to Enterprise Mobility and I hope they see the Summit as a means to restore some investor confidence and put real content behind the high level slides. Watch this space…

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