In January 2011 I had the honor to ask SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann some questions about the mobile strategy of SAP itself. He told me how he used a phased approach for introducing the iPad into the company. From the point of where internal SAP developers were very excited when Apple announced its first tablet in 2010, till where SAP recognized that enthusiasm and eventually predicted it would soon be an issue with high priority on corporate level too. How right have they been! SAP itself has already deployed over 3.000 iPads within the company and the functionality is getting wider and more complex every week.
The interview with Oliver Bussmann was published (in Dutch) in March on the Dutch website Tweakers.net and reached almost 100k page views. I did not just write down questions and quotes from Oliver Bussmann, but tried to make it a more story like article (after my Editor in Chief gave me that tip). I wrote about how important a solid strategy on corporate mobility is. Do not just deploy iPads because your employees like the new gadget, but think about how your employees can benefit time or efficiency wise. Make sure your applications can be easily deployed to different devices (SAP has the intention to roll out Playbooks and Android Tablets too). Make your development platform flexible and don’t forget to think about device management!
Don’t start with complex applications, but start easy! SAP itself just offered remote desktop possibilities at first. Not even one year they are offering real time data from an In-Memory HANA solution to iPad users. That’s how a solid strategy can enable a company to grow fast on its mobility targets. You can think that Oliver Bussmann is just a marketing machine and was trying to condone the huge amount of money SAP has spent on the acquisition of Sybase, but his tips are actually perfectly applicable at customer situation.
Recently I was asked by the manager of the SAP Competence Center of a very big Dutch company to think about the need for mobility in his company. Eventually we sat down with the enterprise architect and started brainstorming. They had huge ideas about how iPads would be so awesome for employees and how it would help when they would move to their new building in 2012. That building is all about mobility and flexibility.
When we stopped the hooray session and really started thinking where employees and management could benefit from mobile SAP solutions, we defined some targets as quick wins and set some goals for the future. To enable this kind of growth we needed to define a corporate mobile strategy, just as SAP did. We are now thinking about the stuff Oliver Bussmann told me were the key foundations of a corporate strategy on enterprise mobility: Application management, device management, application roadmap and mobile architecture.
We are currently defining the architecture and want to make sure that our development platform will be highly flexible for different business units. We want to provide them with the possibilities to develop their own application, their own user interface and therefore let them choose their own kind of devices to support.
I think that is the best approach to defining an enterprise strategy: 1. brainstorm about possibilities. 2. Set goals, short term and long term 3. Design the architecture as flexible as possible. 4. Enable the business to provide input during the whole process.
I can talk much longer about corporate and enterprise mobility and how we are currently defining the strategy at this specific customer, but that would make this already long blog post even longer. And regarding it is my first blog entry on SDN; I don’t want to scare you all off… So hopefully next time I can tell you more about installing and setting up Sybase Unwired Platform and how it is being used by the business to get the mobile apps they need. Stay tuned!