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The similarity between email and workflow is striking, yet only few organisations have taken this obvious next step after bringing email to mobile devices. Does this also make you wonder why mobile workflow hasn’t become as pervasive as mobile email?

Obvious benefits – so what stops us?

Putting email on mobile devices has significantly accelerated decision making and – at the same time – has made users more productive. What we also need to take into account is that we’re talking about a productivity improvement for what is often the most highly paid part of the workforce, which in turn amplifies the productivity gains. I do think that exactly the same case can be made for mobile workflow and in fact it is often easier to measure the business case because the underlying workflow is a structured representation of a business process and thereby easier to measure. This should mean all thumbs up for the business case.

If I take a closer look at our customer base then indeed it is clear that mobile workflow already is one of the more frequently deployed scenarios for enterprise mobility, but while today all our customers use mobile email, only a few use mobile workflow. I believe the two main reasons are that:

  1. Many organisations are at the verge of implementing a mobile platform, so will need their mobile workflow scenario to fit into this framework – which often isn’t quite there yet.
  2. Software vendors have been struggling with the pace of change in the market thus leaving important requirements unaddressed.

Change is on the horizon!

There are good reasons to believe that SAP is about to change both aspects. Firstly, the Sybase Unwired Platform is quickly gaining acceptance in the market as the de-facto standard platform for mobile applications – especially in SAP-centric environments. Secondly, SAP is expected to announce or release a new version of Sybase Mobile Workflow at SAPPHIRE which is more feature-complete and supports a wider range of device than the current version.

So what would this new version need to look like to find wide adoption in the SAP customer base? When I speak to our customers there are some clear and common usage scenarios and expectations for mobile workflow. Based on those I’d say a successful mobile workflow app would need to…

  • be intuitive and easy to use
  • present the information required for decision making in a visually rich format that is easily customizable
  • be able to handle attachments
  • support the most popular mobile device types, i.e. at least BlackBerry, iPhone / iPad and Android
  • should plug into the notification system of the device
  • and be based on the mobile enterprise application platform the customer has selected.

With this in mind I am burning to see how the next version of SAP’s Mobile Workflow app stacks up against these expectations and to follow up with part 2 of this blog to make this comparison.

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3 Comments

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  1. Gregory Misiorek
    i would start with explaining to end users that workflow is not email, even though it looks like email to them. in certain respects, workflow is even similar to twitter. this, along with smartphones, makes it a good candidate for faster organic growth.
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    1. Steffen Schwark Post author
      Hi Gregory,

      Thanks for you comment! For me the only obvious connection between mobile workflow and Twitter is that the mobile internet has vastly accelerated the adoption of social media and that mobilizing the workflow inbox can have the same impact on user acceptance.

      Where else do you see similarities?

      Regards,
      Steffen

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    2. Steffen Schwark Post author
      Hi Gregory,

      Thanks for your comment. For me the only obvious connection between mobile workflow and twitter is that the mobile internet along with mobile apps has vastly accelerated the rise of social media and that mobilizing the workflow inbox has the same potential for user acceptance.

      Where else do you see the similarities?

      Regards,
      Steffen

      (0) 

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