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Author's profile photo Andy Silvey

Let’s move on from Mobility and into the Enterprise

To my grandmother a radio was a Wireless, she explained to me, that during her lifetime,

there had been a sea change, from what were often large fixed record players with speakers

connected by cable, to smaller appliances not much more than a speaker which played radio

programmes transmitted through the air, known as the wireless.

The term wireless although still used by older generations was alien to generations X and Y

and subsequent generations who knew the radio as a radio.

Mobility and Mobile Software is a similar such case point and it’s time we begin to do something

about it.

Being ‘on-line’ or ‘connected’ for the last few generations has mean’t having their pc’s securely
anchored to a cable network connection. With the pc connected to the cable network
people have been able to use their organisation’s Enterprise Resource Planning systems.

Any computer applications which enabled the User to contribute to Business Processes from
a not-a-pc device, eg, Ipaq, Palm Pilot, Nokia Communicator, you know, this is going right
back to the WML days, any of these applications on intermittently connected devices were
called Mobility applications.

And this is how the term Mobility evolved and this is how it has been until today. Mobility
for Baby Boomers and Generation X has symbolised partially connected applications on notebooks
or hand held computers.


Fast forward to 2013, we have a huge percentage of Generation Y who are in their teens, and
also the Millenials who _only_ know being ‘connected’ anywhere anytime, whether it be wifi
at school/work/favourite hangouts, 3g and 4g.

Generation Y often make their decision on where to spend their spare time based upon wifi availability.

Generation Y don’t know being tied to a desk with a cable network connection. And Generation Y symbolise

the difference between my generation and my grandmother’s generation regarding wireless and radio.

If we, Baby Boomers and Generation X continue distinguishing between Enterprise and Mobility
applications we are going to be looked at by Generation Y and Millenials as aliens.

As I mentioned in a comment in Prashant’s blog Enterprise vs Mobility , for the generation growing up with Tablets and

Wireless networks (wifi & 4g etc),  there will be no distinction between Mobility Applications and Enterprise

Applications,  there will only be the Enterprise Applications and the question will be what device

is used to access those applications and from where and when and in which scenarios.

For Generation Y and Millenials, the way we Generation Xers talk about this area of Enterprise

Mobility, Enterprise vs Mobility, Mobility solutions, the mess we have evolved will only

succeed to confuse the upcoming generations.

It is time to move on from the term Mobility.

It is time to accept that Enterprise Applications are Enterprise Applications regardless

of time or location of Users and the UserAgents/Client. Access to those applications is pervasive across time

and location.

Once we can accept it is time to put Mobility to bed, and think only about Enterprise Applications,

we can then open our minds to looking again at how we think about Enterprise Applications applied

to different times and locations and UserAgents and scenarios.

We will then evolve a standard logical dictionary of terminology for Enterprise Applications in

different scenarios, times, locations, UserAgents, eg:

Enterprise Applications Default Definitions

      . SAP Enterprise Applications for Office
                 Network=fulltime connection
                 Time=in general working day
                 UserAgent/Client=normally pc or tablet

     . SAP Enterprise Applications for Warehouse
                 Network=fulltime connection
                 Time=working hours can be 24/7 shifts
                 UserAgent/Client=can be pc, handheld smart device, tablet, scanner etc

     . SAP Enterprise Applications for Field Sales
                 Network=not-fulltime high % connected via 3g/wifi
                 Time=business hours + evenings / hotels
                 Location=on-premise and off-premise on the road
                 UserAgent/Client=normally pc or tablet

     . SAP Enterprise Applications for Connected Employees
                 Network=fulltime and not-fulltime
                 Location=on and off premise
                 UserAgent/Client=Smart Phone

etc etc, this is a suggestion, I am sure the marketing ladies and gentlemen can do it better, but the point
is to have one brand, the Enterprise Applications, the ERP, the SAP, and then sub brands based
upon scenario, usage, UserAgent/Client etc as opposed to today’s confusion of Mobility this Mobile that ERP this
Enterprise that.

We are arriving in an era where there is no distinction between connected and disconnected. The

connectivity possibilities have matured, the UserAgents/Clients/Devices have matured, and it is time we all

matured how we categorise and brand these different areas of the ERP Enterprise Applications

usage scenarios.

SAP NetWeaver Portal on Device  is a prime example, Portal on Device

(POD) opens new horizons and  usage scope for the SAP Portal POD enables the people on the move,

the Managers on the move, from meeting to meeting, armed with Tablets/IPads to be productive on the

move in between meetings instead of being forced to wait to be productive when they can be anchored to
their pc’s on their desks.

Portal On Device raises a new question mark for companies wanting to on-the-move their SAP infrastructure.
There is now no need for mobile applications here, and mobile apps there, access from handheld 
devices can now be secured and managed through the single entry point doorway to the enterprise systems,
the SAP Portal. And this is just one example.

Looking forward to feedback on this theme.

All the best,

Andy Silvey.

SAP NetWeaver Basis Administrator’s Toolbox…

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      Author's profile photo David Clavey
      David Clavey

      OK, I like your aguement. But being a late baby boomer what do I know !

      By the way "Wireless" was just the English word for electro-magnetic waves, "Radio" was the American word for the same. See Wiki - Etymology.

      I will think on this for a day and a night before replying more 🙂

      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey
      Blog Post Author

      Hi David,

      thanks, I look forward to your thoughts 🙂

      For anybody else interested there is a cross-over discussion in Prashant's  blog Enterprise vs Mobility


      Author's profile photo Kevin Grove
      Kevin Grove


      I think I understand what you mean here. I too would like to see the "barriers" between devices and platforms removed. However, I fear that making a useful "app" of some of the entrenched SAP transactions require a bottom-up rework. The cost of that may likely be beyond reach for most companies. The worst scenario I can see is that a rush to "mobilize" many SAP technologies will result in "crapplications" or a mobile version of GUI or web screens that are nearly useless and worse, may alienate end-users.

      I'd be interested in your response.

      Best regards,

      Kevin Grove

      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Kevin,

      you said, 'I think I understand what you mean here. I too would like to see the "barriers" between devices and platforms removed. However, I fear that making a useful "app" of some of the entrenched SAP transactions require a bottom-up rework. The cost of that may likely be beyond reach for most companies. The worst scenario I can see is that a rush to "mobilize" many SAP technologies will result in "crapplications" or a mobile version of GUI or web screens that are nearly useless and worse, may alienate end-users.

      I'd be interested in your response.'

      ok you asked for it....

      where to start, I will try to keep the thoughts flow logical and smooth.

      My main goal right now is to move the world away from the word 'mobile' or 'mobility' and onto clients and scenarios and time and location.

      My daughters (ages 6 and 8), they don't distinguish between cabled network anchored pc or smart phone in terms of the mobility of one and the lack of mobility of the other.

      Infact they don't even distinguish between them in terms of pc mobile applications
      and smart phone applications, they just know, some things run better on the one and some things run better on the other and they know in which scenario to utilise the capabilities of the one or the other, and without thinking about it or making a fuss.

      They also don't distinguish between un-smart phone and smart-phone, they don't know the words 'smart' or 'device', for them a phone is a phone, and they simply know that dad's phone does different things than mum's (this is not sexist [before I get jumped
      on by the equality brigade] my wife has so far shy'd away from a smart phone).

      If my daughters are lucky then Christmas 2013 Father Christmas might bring them Android tablets. I can tell you now, they will classify the Android tablets as iPads, because that is how their generation are classifying tablets, in a similar way to how
      older people in the UK called a vacuum cleaner (of any brand) a Hoover.

      So this is where the world is going, you want to see where the world is going, look at the next generation, and there will be:

      . no need for explicit naming and descriptive distinction between business applications
      for on-the-move and business applications for not-on-the-move everything will cross over,
      of course applications requiring offline persistance will have to be written with this in
      mind, but Users will not need to be told which app is mobile and which is not

      Why for the last 15 or so years has there been this explicit distinction between mobile/mobility and 'Enterprise' ?

      It's because, Enterprise stood for, being at the office and therefore connected to the network and mobile stood for rarely having a network.

      Fastforward to today, at the office and many commercial locations we have wifi, and when we don't have wifi, a large percentage of the landmass has 3g and some already have 4g. And these days, the chances of being out of data coverage are less and less and will only become less and less, consequently, the traditional application barriers of network coverage or not network coverage are disappearing and people are always online whereever they are.

      Back to the future...

      . there will be no word mobility or mobile

      . there will only be,

        . Business Scenarios and/or Business Processes

        . The best 'clients' for completing those Business Scenarios or Business Processes

      What do I mean, 'the best 'clients' ?

      'Clients' means, the tool which will be best served to complete the Business Scenario or Business Process.

      Clients can be and will be classified into three catagories:

      . smart-phone (from now on called a phone)

      . tablet (meaning iPad etc)

      . pc (normally a laptop)

      Eg, if you're at the office, you may even today have at your disposal, a phone, a table and a pc.  You may be a Salesman, therefore you work in a Business Scenario and you have Business Processes to complete,  and you know, instictively which client to use for which task.  All three might physically be able to display the application you intend to run, but you'll know at that time, in that location, in that scenario, which client will be the best for the intended task.

      Question:  The worst scenario I can see is that a rush to "mobilize" many SAP technologies will result in "crapplications" or a mobile version of GUI or web screens that are nearly useless and worse, may alienate end-users.

      I keep coming back to Portal on Device in my examples. (yes the pedantics will see I am advocating moving away from the word device, and it is used in the term Portal on Device - that's ok, at least they didn't say Portal on Mobility, and this is for sure going to disolve during the generations transition).

      So, Portal on Device, SAP have hit the nail right on the head here, they've aced it with Portal on Device. 

      They have given their Customers in one go:

      . the opportunity to open their Enterprise Applications to a wider 'clients' base while not having to buy more servers and new technologies, they've simply expanded in one go the 'clients' base of the SAP Portal and this is a master stroke

      . yes it is early days, yes the Business Suite and Business Packages which were written in Java and on the Portal and moved to ABAP WDP and onto the Backends do not currently look nice because they need to have their presentation layer re-written in a phone and tablet friendly way, but this will come with time, my predicition is the phone and tablet friendly versions of the most popular Portal Business packages will move back onto the Portal

      Personally I am less worried about the rush to mobilise many SAP technologies, and more worried about the confusion between the wide variety of possibilities for getting SAP onto phones and tablets. To name a few of the possibilities we currently have:

      . SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform)
      . ME (Mobile Engine)
      . POD (Portal On Device)

      . Native Applications

      Before companies think of creating apps for phones and tablets they need to first look at the:

      . scenario - Business Scenario / Business Process

      . situation - location, connected, partially connected, not connected, local persistence needed

      . client - phone / tablet / pc

      Does the scenario and situation require local persistence or not ?

      Does the scenario require a large screen client or a medium or smaller screen client ?

      With Portal On Device, the above questions have two clear possibilities:

      Off line persistence not required, and client has medium or small screen - then it's Portal On Device and if SAP do not yet have a Business Package for the requirement which is small and medium client friendly then the customer can use WDP and JQuery and write their own application.

      Off line persistence required - then it is one of the solutions which enables offline persistence, SUP or ME etc.

      For the On-The-Move Managers, who have very good network connectivity, Portal On Device has come at the right time.

      If you want to set it up, have a look at this blog:

      How To Set Up Portal On Device

      Local Persistance and Client Size are the most important questions. The answer

      to those two questions dictate whether to use Portal On Device or not. And this will

      be the quickest fastest most seamless invisable way to enable on the move end user productivity. And I think any architect who is looking for a solution to phone and tablet enabling SAP in the connected scenario should look first at Portal on Device, utilising existing Portal hardware and infrastructure, not needing to re-invent the wheel with the user provisioning, user management, roles and authorisations concept, look and feel concept etc, because with POD it's all there out of the box, just write the application.

      Looking forward to your feedback,


      Author's profile photo Kevin Grove
      Kevin Grove


      Indeed you make a compelling, and thorough, argument; and for customers with a Portal infrastructure in place, it makes a great deal of sense. However, there is still a great deal of SAP ECC, for example, which is not typically provisioned through the portal and is still done through the gui interface. It is these transactions that still would not be very useful on a touch screen device. In particular some of the MM and SD transactions with multiple tabs, drop-downs and menu selections to which the business users are subjected that would not be improved on a touch screen as currently provided.

      I do wholeheartedly agree with the vision that tool accessing the application should become invisible to the consumer of the application. I can quite easily imagine that your daughters' generation may not need to use a traditional computer at all -- except by choice. At some point perhaps that will also be the reality for SAP customers.

      Definitely enjoy the discussion and you have reset some of my ideas on the subject.



      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Kevin,

      apologies for the delay in replying, I had a holiday, which also gave me time to gather my thoughts on this, and I am concluding what I want to say is, times have changed, and now, the Enterprise is Mobility and Mobility is the Enterprise and there is no distinction between the two and Gen Y and Millenials will not distinguish between the two, they will simply know Enterprise Applications.

      Thinking further along these lines, the expectations of Gen Y and Millenials, and relating to your points about the amount of SAP Enterprise content that is not yet phone or tablet friendly, we can clearly see, that if SAP do not get a move on and make the Business Suite phone and tablet friendly then they are leaving the door of opportunity open to somebody else to do the same. I mean, there is an opportunity right here and now for somebody to make tablet and phone friendly interfaces to the underlying ERP Business Suite, in a similar way to have OpenText have made nice looking Portal Business packages. I conclude whoever does that would soon get bought up by SAP ala Nakisa/Success Factors.

      How to easily and quickly make the ERP Business Suite phone and tablet friendly, that is the question now, for SAP and everybody else. Who will get their first, let's wait and see...  and in the meantime see what we can do 🙂

      All the best,


      Author's profile photo Brian O'Neill
      Brian O'Neill

      Hi Andy,

      Totally agree with what you are saying. In the end, its not about the technology, but about what you are using it to do. It shouldn't matter if its on a desktop or mobile device, you should be able to do your job wherever you are. I think that is what mobility is all about.

      Small correction: It sounds like you are considering Gen Y and Millenials as two different generational groups, but I think they are the same.

      Also, can you tell me what the following terms mean: record, radio, Ipaq (is this a misspelling for iPod?), Palm Pilot, Nokia Communicator, WML? 😆

      I think that the expectations of Gen Y in the workplace is going to drive a lot of change in businesses. SAP actually had an online event about it, you can see it at


      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Brian,

      thanks for the feedback.

      I agree Gen Y and Millenials in this context can be considered as having the same expectations and therefore as the same group.

      Thanks for the link.

      All the best,


      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey
      Blog Post Author

      this next article precisely reinforces my point why us Gen X'ers and Boomers need to get over Enterprise vs Mobility, Enterprise is Mobility and Gen Y and Millenials are already there

      an article from this morning's Telegraph about an enterprising young man who wrote a news consolidation app, what I found particularly interesting along the lines of this discussion is where he comments that all he knows is Internet:

      Nick, who taught himself to code aged 12, told the Telegraph ahead of the app’s launch last November:

      “I’m described as a net native, so I was born when the internet was founded and have only known a world
      with internet.

      “Young people are just not aware of the constraints, so why not go build a social network, for example?”

      He added: “I was using Google and Bing and there were so many results to scroll through it was really

      “So I built an algorithm that shared them and trimmed them. Then it just transformed into the idea of:
      'why not just summarise news in general?’.”

      The full article is here:

      Good job.


      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Morning Andy,

      Nice blog, I would like to add my 2 pennies worth. Reading the comments too, I have added answers or something extra taking those into account. But I would like to look at in a different way. As humans we tend to do 2 things when presented with something new. Pigeon hole it, or disqualify it. Free thought would probably be released if we removed these constraints. As we go back a few years and have many SAP Portal years under out belts, we tend to see eye to eye. I totally agree with you. The enterprise is moving into new areas,just the other day I read an article that stated, 1billion hand held devices are in use today. 6 billion or so in 2014. SAP have hit the bullesye on this one. By offering customers various types of ways of getting the enterprise on a device, by using the portal or SUP etc. Companies must wake up to the fact that their customer, business partner etc will most probably have a handheld device for work and will therefore have to do business with it. If you cannot cater for it, they will go elsewhere. As with all new technologies there is a scramble for who is best etc etc. But in time this will fade out to become what is the industry standard. Examples such as VHS, Betamax and V2000 wars, or the DVD format wars (oh dear I am beginning to show my age). I am impressed that SAP have jumped in and grabbed the bull by the horns to present itself as a leader. The portal again offers itself as product to fill that gap, the problem being is. Will it be used as such? (150,000 SAP installations and only about 10 - 15k portal installations, this is rough estimates), the past has I can see solutions delivered bypassing the portal as a real contender. But who knows, I will be gratefully relieved if I am proved wrong in the future? The portal has transformed into many things and has many uses, this being one of them. I also agree that someone needs to really sit down and do something about the presentation, we are in a hurry to be 1st with the technology and never really think about how to make it look really good, we are human and like seeing things which are aesthetically pleasing. With the Enterprise on a device, with such as small space to deal with, I hope someone is taking it onboard. Worst case scenario, the presentation could slow down or kill off the solution, if not that then the knowledge of the portal as a viable tool may do so too.



      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Richard,

      as you know our thoughts are aligned.

      What to say, hopefully the message is getting through and there is effort being put on it.