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The Lowest-Hanging Fruit in Enterprise Mobility: Not What You May Think It Is

I finally understood the saying “low-hanging fruit” this summer when my family grew a fruit and vegetable garden for the first time.

Of course, I’d used the expression many times before in conversation and writing. But it had remained a little abstract to me, a cliche employed thoughtlessly – and, ironically, when I wanted to sound smart – to describe easy-to-achieve goals, fast ROI projects, etc. etc.

It hit me one bright day while scanning the candidates competing for the title in our garden. There were the tomatoes swaying from bent-over vines that we’d forgotten to pull upright with a wooden stake. There were also the tiny strawberries and raspberries clinging to stunted little bushes. The winner, it turned out, were the massive orange pumpkins plopped right on the dirt.

Turns out there’s a fruit even lower-hanging than a pumpkin on the ground. Can you guess?*

This got me thinking: what are the lowest-hanging fruit for mobilizing enterprises? The reflexive, no-brainer answer would be: deploying smartphones and tablets to employees. Nothing easier to do than buying a bunch of iPads at the mall and passing them out to eager hands.

But if we define low-hanging fruit as being about Return on Investment, than passing out devices would not win. And while I think Mobile Device Management (MDM) software is a necessity, it’s hard to show ROI until your employees lose their encrypted, protected devices (which will happen, but hopefully not right away).

Rather, I would argue that deploying mobile business apps can be your company’s lowest-hanging fruit. I know that sounds strange: don’t apps come after you have the devices, after the MDM software? True that.

At the same time, deploying apps can often be as small and tidy as their name, in contrast to the expensive, lengthy timelines of their big brothers, server applications.  Also, apps can offer surprising bang-for-the-buck in terms of boosting revenue, slashing costs and delivering ROI.  Arming salespeople with CRM data to help him or her better sell is an obvious win. Unsurprisingly, the first app from my employer SAP/Sybase was a sales automation app for BlackBerry.

With the popularity of iPads among doctors, another low-hanger is giving doctors and nurses access to patient data via tablet so that they can do more-informed, faster diagnoses. That’s why SAP is building a mobile dashboard for doctors that does just that. Still another is in the area of field service: enabling technicians and repairmen to better manage work orders and download equipment information. That’s what SAP’s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Work Order app, released in late September, does.

The integrated maps in SAP’s new EAM (Work Order) app helps field techs get to the right location on time.

Finally, giving managers access to HR metrics and processes is another easy winner. What boss wouldn’t want to be able to approve leave requests or expenses from their mobile device in between meetings? It beats letting them pile up and disgruntling your employees. Or how about being able to get a quick, real-time update on employee headcount and other metrics, via which you can then drill down to individual employees?

Those features are among the six HR apps that SAP announced today that it is prepping for release this quarter. Other apps include an Interview Assistant for hiring managers and a Timesheet app that captures hours worked in real-time.

Keep track of key talent with the new SAP Employee Lookup (HCM) app.

The link above the pic is to the press release, which includes links to video demos of all these new apps, which are available on iPad, iPhone and BlackBerries.

There will also be an October 18 webinar introducing these apps.


* It’s actually something that most people don’t realize is a fruit, and also grows so low as to be actually underground: peanuts.

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