I am back in San Francisco after a full long week of rich events at TechEd in Las Vegas. As I was boarding the plane back home I couldn’t stop myself from counting how many tablets I passed by till I reached my seat. I counted 4 tablets altogether…and my seat was number 4B! I just wish some of these tablet owners could have attended the mobility tracks at TechEd this year so they can get a glimpse of the endless possibilities of how these devices could help them become more productive at their day to day work.
There were so many interesting mobility tracks at TechEd this year that one could have easily filled up his/her agenda for the entire event by attending mobility sessions only, which is what I did. Presenters went out of their way to position the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) as SAP’s one and only mobile platform this year. There were multiple hands on sessions around SUP with a strong emphasis on how to develop mobile apps that can exploit the platform’s different capabilities using either OData or Mobile Business Objects (MBOs) and when to use each. There were also several tracks around Afaria (SAP’s Mobile Device Management platform) and how SAP plans to integrate it with its SUP platform framework.
Two SAP mobile customers presented their personal stories and experiences with SAP’s mobile products this year. General Mills gave a one hour detailed presentation on how they leveraged SUP to customize the Sybase Mobile Sales for CRM mobile app and adapt it to their sales force’s requirements. They explained how they built the business case, designed the software architecture and customized the native Sybase mobile application. They also gave the audience a candid list of the challenges they faced during the project and what they would have done differently if they had the chance. Cisco also presented their experience with Afaria since they first installed it more than 10 years ago. Cisco explained how Afaria played a central role in allowing them to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobile strategy and the cost savings that resulted from that decision.
One of the most interesting and talked about events this year was the Mobility Midnight Madness that took place on Wednesday September 14th. The event started at 7:30pm and lasted all the way till midnight (check out event pictures here). This event was hands down the coolest at TechEd this year. Attendees were jumping in the air throughout the session trying to catch the angry birds that were flying all over the room. There were several mobility quizzes during the event and many of the audience went home with some very cool prizes including some of Motorola’s latest smartphones and tablets. Even though the atmosphere was very relaxed and cheerful; there was some serious mobility content presented during this session, one of which was SAP’s Rapid Deployment Solution (RDS) for Mobile Apps and Infrastructure. This RDS is an “out of the box” end to end mobile solution that SAP is planning to release to customers soon. The RDS comes with 19 prepackaged enterprise productivity mobile applications that span multiple lines of business including Sales, Finance, HR, and Procurement along with SAP’s complete mobile platform of SUP, Gateway and Afaria. The mobile apps address simple but essential cross functional mobile use cases such as request and approval management and information lookup that can delivery instant value to the user. The RDS also includes configuration content that includes step by step guides and business process documents that help customers get up and running within 8 weeks.
SAP is also enabling its partners to deliver the Mobile RDS by providing them with the necessary content, configuration guides and go to market material. The only restriction is that the partner has to deliver the RDS at or below SAP’s fixed RDS price. This will give SAP customers the freedom to either use SAP consulting to implement the RDS or go with their preferred partner. Regardless of who offers the service piece of the RDS, customers will be up and running at an upfront negotiated fixed price, fixed scope and fixed time (8 weeks or less).
Overall, TechEd attendees walked away with a very clear picture about SAP’s mobile strategy, mobile application pipeline and a clearer vision of how to introduce enterprise mobile applications into their organizations. I personally can’t wait to meet with some of the customers and partners again next year and hear about their mobile stories.