The mobility transformation occurring in the industry is for real and driving variety of related innovations in the marketplace. With the acquisition of Sybase, SAP is well positioned to lead in this huge market and paraphrasing SAP CTO Vishal Sikka’s point, mobile technology is once in a generation disruptive and transformative technology. SAP’s most recent marketing material quotes IDC Insight as follows, “As a combined entity, SAP and Sybase possess a unique position in the enterprise mobility market, with the ability to offer analytics-enabled infrastructure, a leading mobile enterprise applications platform, mobile device management and security, and mobile applications across multiple device types” .
SAP future product strategy will enable seamless execution of business processes across on-premise, on-demand and on-device applications, orchestrated by a set of network fabric components. The key component of this product strategy is “on-device”. SAP customers are currently evaluating or devising their strategies for leveraging the opportunities offered by the mobile platform and applications. In this effort, two key need to be addressed namely (a) how do we enable users to participate in the execution of a business process via a mobile device and (b) which business processes can be extended to hand held mobile devices.
To effectively answer these questions, customers can consider some objective criteria outlined below. I am hoping the following criteria would serve as a discussion starter for team members responsible for developing the above mentioned strategy.
Contextual Factors – These factors help understand “why” the enterprise is looking to extend business processes to mobile devices.
- Strategic Intent – Is the enterprise looking to make incremental process improvements by extending the process to mobile devices or striving for a radical change in order to gain a new competency by leveraging mobile technology and thereby leapfrog the competition.
- Objective – Is the enterprise looking to drive its own internal transformation to achieve operational efficiency or looking to improve “ease of doing business” for its customers and partners
- Drivers – Are there internal drivers where the new mobile technology makes it possible to expose a process to “on-device” now where it was not feasible before or is it purely driven by external factors where an enterprise is motivated to match its chief competitors’ capabilities around mobility.
Functional Criteria – These factors are very specific to industry and the core functionality supporting industry specific processes. The following classification could serve as a starting point for further discussions. By no means is this an exhaustive list but to highlight a few.
- Functions that support employees on the field (Sales, Service, Customer relations etc)
- Real-time needs of the workforce (enable instant customer interaction, decision-making and process flows)
- Business workflow (quick responses to critical requests)
- Executive dashboards (instant view on the operations of the company)
Read Vs Write – Does extending the process to mobile devices enable simple information lookup and/or data extract or does the mobile device serves an entry point to a process that allows users to write data (create, update and delete) to a backend system. On the read mode another consideration is “Pull Vs Push” approach. In other words, processes where information need to be pulled on-demand by the users versus process steps where information need to be pushed (ex. broadcast, notification etc) to the end users’ mobile devices.
Non-functional requirements – Are there any performance related barriers for the applications supporting enterprise’s core processes (i.e. response time, scalability, availability etc) that can be overcome now with mobility paradigm (platform/technology) which was not possible with traditional computing paradigm.
Security Factors – Can security needs and concerns of the process be sufficiently addressed by transitioning to a mobile platform and becoming an unwired enterprise.
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 IDC Insight “SAP and Sybase: The Promise of Mobility Takes Shape,” September 2010.