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This is my vision of the mobile company.

That all your daily tasks and business can be done from any device, anywhere, at any time. That mobile devices and apps help you saving precious time by recording daily activities or processing workflows on the go, getting the needed numbers and facts on the road. Between meetings, in a taxi – simply everywhere and at the same time so simple that it reduces all existing complexity to the essence of getting the task done.

My vision is that employees actually enjoy fulfilling tasks they previously may have considered annoying duties. That they look for new in-house applications in their company’s own internal app store. And receive immediate, 24/7, unrestricted, consumer-like genius support for all their questions. That they like their apps, even complex business transactions, like smartphone end-users love their gadgets. That employees love their mobile apps so much that they show them to friends and so become SAP sales people.

You find it hard to imagine? Maybe, if you know about complex business systems and technological challenges that often take months to be implemented and customized, and which sometimes may provide a somewhat joyless experience for end users.

However, if you followed up on the hype around enterprise mobility and consumerization of IT in the last couple of years, you might be aware that
mobile is finally becoming a more joyful experience for the enterprise consumer. Business users and employees transfer the expectation they have with consumer products to their corporate environment, and more and more they are getting what they expect.

You might think that SAP is a techie company where things like proxy setups, configuring IP addresses and certificates are no-brainers for every
employee. But even if SAP’s workforce is relatively young and engineer-driven, it does quite well reflect what is going on in the consumer markets. There are
people who simply don’t have the time for going through complicated installation routines, or they don’t want to bother with technical details because they simply want to get their job done. This is why these users simply want highly functional, intuitive, and attractive products, similar to those produced by the top consumer market leaders.

At SAP, we took it step by step, did a lot of thinking and tried different approaches to finally get to a pretty close version of the vision I have described above. There is room for a lot more imagination and there certainly are quite a few important steps ahead of us. 

With this series of blogs, I want to offer you some insights behind the scenes. This will be a description of how the dots connect regarding our mobile
strategy at SAP and regarding our product portfolio. I will try to make an analysis of what we have achieved so far by equipping our employees with more than 70,000 smart devices of all colors, 70 apps for the Apple iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone; plus a mobile environment consisting of an
internal app store (an implementation of our own SAP Store), a secure mobile device management with SAP Afaria, user-friendly Single Sign On to our system landscape, and the platform for mobilizing sophisticated internal business activities.

At the same time, I do not want to omit mentioning the challenges we faced, often because we needed to figure out how to get the balance right between simplicity and an exciting experience on the one hand, and our internal security and quality demands on the other. With a user-friendly mobile customer
relationship management, analytics, and HR related transactions, our business units now rely on mobile devices and mobile applications. With our open and
device-agnostic approach, as well as consumer-like enterprise apps, we have been able to create what I would describe as a new mobile mindset among SAP colleagues which is driven by simplicity and user-centricity.  They share project files and handle invoices on the road, access account information and statistics from their mobile devices, purchase in the internal SRM, send leave requests to their managers, and much more. These internal users – sales people, consultants, managers, developers – truly live what I have described in the beginning.

So, at a mobile company, at SAP, it is not about impressive numbers or the simple quantity of assets. It’s about creating real value and a convincing
end-to-end experience for our own employees. Only by inspiring them with our own products, are we able to turn them from our first customers to our most enthusiastic propagators, and our internal vision of the mobile enterprise becomes a blueprint for our offer to the market. That’s the heart of what we internally call SAP Runs SAP Mobile, and that’s what I want to depict in the upcoming episodes of this blog.

Join me next time, when I will be writing about end-to-end mobile experience at SAP, from the enrollment of new devices over the distribution via SAP Internal Store to internal end-user support.

Hope to see you again when I’ll cover the following topics:

Insights into a mobilized enterprise series

1 – Mobile at SAP – Insights into a mobilized enterprise

2 – End-to-end consumer expectation in enterprise mobility – our employees as first customers

3 – Enterprise mobility strategy – the details a mobile-enabled company needs to think about

4 – Internal mobile projects and mobile development at SAP

5 – Internal mobile support – “genius bars” and direct contact to developers

6 – Usability AND security – deep dive on internal security, VPN-less access, device management, and gateways.

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3 Comments

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  1. Andy Silvey

    Hi Thomas,

    I look forward to this series of blogs especially the Usability and Security, this is a very topical subject which we have been discussing over here.

    I am also especially interested to see, how SAP classifies the security risk of exposing their own critical Business Systems to the Internet, the technologies used for the Internet Access and Authentication and User Provisioning.

    Best regards,

    Andy.

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    1. Thomas Saueressig Post author

      Hi Andy,

      thanks for your feedback. It sure helps when it comes to creating new content.

      I’ll definitively will explain how we secured the VPN-less access from the free internet to our highly secure business systems, with multiple protocol switches, user registration checks etc.

      The point you raised is a very important one, it’s about balancing risks and benefits of the security measures/requirements and usability.

      Also very interesting article you wrote….thanks for sharing!

      Best regards,

      Thomas

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