Mobile application development has taken off in a big way and quite a lot of companies see the necessity of getting into the trend of mobile app development in order to do business seamlessly. Because of the adoption of the Android mobile handheld platform, SAP has seen fit to leverage the power and widespread accessibility of mobile handsets in order to further drive their solutions. In April of 2018 SAP Mobile Cards became available with further support to come with the release of SAP Cloud Platform SDK, allowing more freedom for developers to write feature-rich applications directly on the cloud. The existing Mobile Card SDK allows for a lot of simple application development that can be tied directly to an SAP database, allowing for some simple yet powerful applications to be built over a matter of minutes. SAP allows for a wide range of application development options, but not all options offered suit all types of business.
Solutions by Type
Most enterprise-wide solutions that rely on SAP usually come in of three different formats. Most programmers are familiar with SAP Fiori, which was developed to be mobile-friendly in its interface. A large number of the solutions currently available utilizing SAP architecture depend on SAP Fiori to run the front end. In such cases Fiori is accessible in any browser, even a mobile-based one, bringing this technology to the mobile phone albeit in a fashion that simply shrinks the desktop screen to a handheld size. The “Internet of Things” helps you to collect all the data that is needed to manage your processes in the most efficient way. The SAP Fiori App can also help to execute tasks such as loading, unloading, weighing or any movement of your vehicles.
The second solution, and on that tends to be a lot more expensive to implement, is the development of native applications within Android to connect to the SAP database and even to operate in an offline capacity (something that SAP Fiori cannot do). Mobile app development can sometimes carry with it a huge cost and while the development, debugging and other overhead is a one-time cost, maintenance costs may also be needed over time to ensure that the app is up to date and that it conforms with newer Android devices as the operating system itself advances.
A healthy middle-ground exists here where a combination of natively coded Android applications exist alongside website-based Fiori solutions. Standardizing the data across both platforms would be the most difficult challenge in this situation, but with a properly implemented data structure and an understanding of how the data architecture for the company works, it isn’t nearly as time consuming (or expensive) as developing a native Android application for the purpose of implementing a SAP solution.
Development With Results in Mind
These three options offered give varying levels of flexibility to companies looking at developing mobile applications to work alongside their SAP solutions. Cloud development through the SDK offers a unique way to interface a mobile application with the SAP database through clever implementation of ABAP and Java. Developing an application is probably a good idea for companies that may have to access information from their databases while offline, or query an offline version of the database where a connection is unavailable. While it is admirable to look into app development as a possible solution, the cost-benefit analysis must be weighed.
Android application development from initial idea to final product can take anywhere from two weeks to many months. Additionally, each new feature included in the application can increase development time and costs in keeping with how complicated the feature is to implement. At present, SDK Mobile Cards can aid a company to develop applications that can cater for many of the business’ needs. In a few cases a custom application isn’t really necessary, and determining whether the money and time put into the application could have been simply satisfied by an SDK Mobile Card app could save a company a lot of wasted money and time.
Keeping it Simple
The most important advice that should be garnered from the exploration of the application development options offered by SAP is that if a mobile app can be developed that is simple and meets the needs of the company with existing developmental tools, then developing in native Android is simply overkill and a waste of both time and money. While the tools provided by SAP are very much appreciated for those of us who need a customized Android application for our business processes, this forward-thinking update follows in SAP’s traditional mindset of offering functionality because it may be needed by a few customers. Just because we can develop native Android applications doesn’t mean we should do so when existing SAP Fiori implementations and SDK Mobile Card applications can meet the need of the company.