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Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer

Mobile Strategy

Personal experience

The past 2 years, I have been investing increasingly more of my time in  the topic of enterprise mobility. Every time again, I run into the same  problems when trying to present a solution. In essence, it all boils  down to one single point. “Lack of vision and strategy on Technology.”

The usual

The business has the budget and requests the project. IT is supposed to  support business and will implement the project. However, as business  has the budget, they call the shots. They will decide what technology to  use and how to implement their baby. So IT does not get to decide on  what they know best. They can argument all they want, but in the end,  it’s business that takes the decision. In a small firm, with a small  system landscape, this isn’t too big an issue, because they tend  to stick with what they know.

Now let’s say you have a really big enterprise with many different  business areas, units, lines, whatever you want to call them. Department  A starts a project and wants to use technology 123. Fine, IT follows  and implements it. Meanwhile department B starts another project which  could perfectly benefit from technology 123, but because they are  unaware of what A is doing, they choose technology XYZ.

Sounds ridiculous, right? There should always be someone who has an overview on the running projects!
Yes! There is, but that person mostly knows what the project is about,  business wise. He/she has no clue about the technology. So as the second  project has a completely different goal, there is noone to step in and  say, “use technology 123”. But even if they do, there still is no guarantee that the one with the budget does not decide otherwise.

Applied to mobility

This is especially a problem in the mobility area. All of the sudden,  mobile has become the wonder child, and all entities in the enterprise  want to have some sort of mobile solution. However, they do not  synchronize and they all want to use their own device and their own  solution. That’s where the fun starts.
A lot of the managers may have a blackberry device, which they require for  their corporate mail. mostly, this comes together with an enterprise  server. Now there are some managers who much rather like to use their  iPhone. Unfortunately, the iPhone can’t communicate with the BES. So  some of them ask IT to foresee something. IT may externalize the mail,  or put in place a separate VPN tunnel, or use a tool such as “Good For  Enterprises”.

Different solutions, just to get access to their mails.
Just imagine what happens when they start integrating back-end  functionalities on their mobile devices. You’ll end up with multiple  device types, multiple back-ends, and no transparency on communication  and user management.

There’s a solution!

These are exactly the issues that a MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application  Platform) tackles. But those are far too expensive for a single business  unit/functionality. So each project comes up with their own approach  leading to a global TCO that is much higher than the cost of a MEAP. It’s as if the different silo’s don’t realize, that mobility also has an impact on your IT infrastructure, cross domain and cross entity.

This is why you need a global vision and strategy on IT. There must be a  central department that lays down the law on architecture and  the roadmap. This department must have the mandate and budget to  develop the strategy and vision and proactively provide the tools needed  by the business.

This is a situation where IT no longer supports business, but it proactively drives business.

Most of my rants end with this statement. It’s my motto. IT must drive business rather than supporting it.

Unfortunately, this still remains a Utopia in most enterprises, but one can only hope.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      It is still early days for Enterprise Mobile (reborn after iphone changed the game).  IT needs to do their homework with regards to possible solutions (MEAP or not), normally has some control over policies, security etc. to be always involved in my experience.  SAP/Sybase has not made it easy for IT, consultancies or developers to do that homework (with regards to developer licences etc) plus confusion regarding licence costs for gateway, SUP etc.  MEAP is the way forward IMO and SUP is promising but there is still extremely limited awareness of SUP/MEAP within the end user world and even less so within the business departments of companies using SAP.

      The risk I see as the major risk is too many failed projects, failing due to the fact that the knowledge is not there and things taking more time and costing more then they should.  As long as companies are not overly ambitious in the beginning, get end users involvement, the financial backing needed and have the right resources to implement the first few apps or solutions then this risk is reduced but again SAP/Sybase needs to do more to get SUP into the hands of those interested and capable of implementing and developing those early solutions.    

      Author's profile photo John Moy
      John Moy
      Hi Tom,
      Like your blog, and good points.  One thing I would like to add to the discussion.  Yes there are good arguments for a MEAP.  But there is another type of platform, a so-called 'MCAP' (Mobile Consumer Application Platform).  I found this term from Gartner.  An MCAP platform is something you might use to provide mobile solutions to your end consumers.  It is focussed outside of the enterprise, not within.  And the requirements for an MCAP can be different - for instance, they often have a large focus on authoring promotions, advertisements, as well as integrating transactional capabilities (online shopping).  What we find is that MEAP (which might be more internally focused) != MCAP.  And if the push for mobility solutions within the organisation is strong, it is just as strong for businesses to offer the own end-consumers mobile solutions (if at least for branding purposes, if nothing else).  What this means is that organisations still might be forced to swallow TWO mobile platforms, which somewhat dilutes some of the arguments for a single MEAP. In it's current state SUP is not suitable for consumer facing scenarios.  After all, with SUP you need to register each device!  Alternatively a business could simply write some native apps and hook them into NetWeaver Gateway, without all the bells and whistles of an MCAP.
      Just my thoughts.
      Author's profile photo Tom Van Doorslaer
      Tom Van Doorslaer
      Blog Post Author
      hi john, absolutely right. an mcap requires different needs than a meap. SUP can actually leverage apps to consumers as well, but it's overkill for that goal. (plus it has a license cost of 5euro per consumer device, for the company to pay!!!)

      gateway plus PI might be a solution there...

      but, before even thinking about customers, an enterprise really needs to get it's strategy internally straightened out.

      for a lot of companies, mobile means they have to reallign their internal organization. a frightening thoght, but it offers so many possibilities in the long run....

      interesting future we live in

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member
      Hi Tom,

      In a crisp and effective manner you brought into discussion of IT should be driving the business. I am still to find where this is 'actually' been the approach. You have taken a great example of mobility to illustrate the discrepancies in an organisations that may lead due to an insufficient or unclear 'vision and strategy'. Hope we find a seamless approach not only in terms of mobility but other analytic solutions to turn the tables in near future.


      Kunal Gandhi