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Mobile Sessions From SAP TechEd I Plan To Watch-Virtually

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 12, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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I made it to my first SAP TechEd conference last year. Not this year, which is a pity, since there are over 100 sessions related to mobile.


I may not be able to make to the Venetian/Palazzo Congress Center, but I still plan to attend TechEd virtually, watching sessions and talks via SAP’s broadcast platform.

Sessions begin at 8 AM in Las Vegas, or 7 AM Pacific Time. So if you’re in California or Washington, set your alarm clock. Or catch the replays, which should be up within a few hours.

Some of the talks and workshops in the Virtual Events Catalog have incorrect starting times or durations. Please double-check the main catalog to get the best, latest schedule.

There are many worthy technical sessions on SUP, Netweaver Portal, BusinessObjects Design Studio and Afaria, that I’d recommend for developer and IT types. They may also want to download the Developer Survival Guide for TechEd.

Here are the higher-level mobile sessions I plan to catch remotely:

Tuesday, Oct 16:

11 AM: Mobility Platform Road Map and Strategy. Get the latest overview of where the SAP Mobile Platform, including the Sybase Unwired Platform, Mobilizer and SAP Afaria, are headed. This features two ex-Sybase technical experts, CTO Jagdish Bansiya and product manager, Sami Lechner.

3 PM: Business Benefits of Mobile. In a 20 minute interview, hear the thoughts of Bill Clark, one of Gartner’s former top mobile analysts, who has just joined as SAP’s global VP for mobile strategy.

8 PM: Demo Jam. The annual showcase of the best business demo applications created by SAP, and its customers and partners. Mobile entrants include the intriguingly-named “Singularity” created by Accenture and Cooper Tire to enable instant collaboration across mobile devices, “Food Agent” by Roberto Clemente Middle School that is a mobile app that lets shoppers scan supermarket barcodes to check the origin of food items and possible contamination, and “Personas,” an SAP app to let users self-customize SAP application interfaces for better productivity on their PCs or tablets.

Wednesday, Oct 17:

12:15 PM: SAP User Interfaces – Strategy and Road Map. Improving the design and ease-of-use of applications, both its own and its partners, has never been more important for SAP. I’m eager to hear about the UI development toolkit for HTML5 from SAP.

Thursday, Oct 18:

11 AM: Avoiding Design Errors and Improving User Experience for Mobile Apps. The speaker promises to “share examples of real and already in the market applications” and how their UX/UI is or isn’t up to snuff.

2:45 PM: Developing Apps and Interfaces with Our Cloud Solutions with an On-Demand SDK. The world is moving to the cloud, and SAP is keeping apace. Werner Wolf, a solution manager at SAP, will demonstrate how to bring an iPad, Business Objects, and cloud data together.

Four Ways Apple Is Evolving Mobile App Management

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 10, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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When Google changed the name of Android Market to Google Play six months ago, I argued that it wasn’t the retreat from the enterprise that it looked like, but actually foreshadowed Google starting up an enterprise app store to complement its fun-focused one.

I guess I’ve spent too much time watching Microsoft do things. Redmond never met a market it didn’t want to segment. Or maybe Larry Page is really serious about focusing Google.

Either way, it increasingly looks like Apple might be the first platform vendor to introduce its own enterprise app store to pair with its wildly-popular App Store. To which, I say, hooray!

As smooth as the iOS experience is on the front end for users, it traditionally posed difficulties for IT managers, primarily in the app management side.

The issue, as Ryan Faas so ably explains, is the iTunes-based App Store’s origins as a online record store. DRM quibbles aside, this translated well for individuals buying apps with their own credit card, but not so well for big companies.

For example: say an employee wants to get a mobile CRM app for iPad that his company requires. The employee can go ahead and buy it and claim it on expenses. But then that app is personally owned by the employee through his iTunes account if he leaves.

This is why large companies strongly prefer to buy hundreds or thousands of apps at a time via a volume software license that is paid for via purchase order, not credit card.

Apple has taken four major steps in the past 18 months to better accommodate partners, or let its mobile app management (MAM) software partners do so.

1) The first workaround was the Volume Purchase Program. Introduced in 2011, the VPP enabled companies can buy a large set of App Store redemption codes that it can distribute to employees, like gift cards, to buy apps. That gets around the headache of credit cards and employee expenses.

Still VPP is not a true volume software license. Apps are still owned by the employee via his/her iTunes account, not by the company. Even if an employee’s device is owned by the company, the apps are not.

2) Building upon the VPP was the release earlier this spring of the Apple Configurator utility. The Apple Configurator augmented VPP by letting IT admins unlink apps from employee iTunes accounts and link them to the managed device. That way, if an employee leaves or a device is sent to the scrap heap, the app can be erased, and the license value applied to another app on another device. 

Apple Configurator is not hiccup-free, by any stretch. It only runs on Mac (the also free iPhone Configurator for Windows offers similar features). And it doesn’t enable the same level of control over BYOD devices. But it is a huge improvement.

(By the way, here’s two ways that SAP is evolving Mobile Device Management (MDM): 1) Powering Afaria with the Hana in-memory database and bringing it to the cloud; 2) Partnering with Box on mobile/cloud management and security. Read what Gartner and IDC have to say about Afaria and the convergence of MDM and MAM.)  

3) The recently-released iOS 6 works in conjunction with Apple Configurator to further empower mobile administrators. Now, IT can use Apple Configurator with third-party MDM software like SAP Afaria to pre-load apps, and later automatically reclaim those apps based on group policies. For instance, app licenses for retired devices can be returned without an administrator’s intervention.

(Apple Configurator also lets companies prevent employees from downloading ‘Erotica’ from its iBookstore. That’s a topic for another blog.)

4) Even before iOS 6, Apple had launched a custom developer program for B2B apps. For enterprise app vendors, this is huge, allowing them to forego charging for apps. This way, it can bill its enterprise customer outside of the App Store process, avoiding Apple’s customary 30% cut and the need to use a credit cards instead of purchase orders. 

Via the program, ISVs can also distribute their apps privately to customers. Enterprises are loathe to see custom apps displayed publicly for competitive and security reasons.

These are all huge steps that bring iOS more on par with the manageability of Windows.

And it could be a precursor towards Apple launching a full enterprise app store, argued Canalys analyst Tim Sheherd during a talk at AppsWorld Europe last week.

Does that spell doom for third-party enterprise app stores such as the SAP Store for Mobile Apps, or internally-managed enterprise app stores? Not at all. 

It all comes down to diversity. Most ISVs build apps for multiple platforms. Companies will want to go to a marketplace where they can comparison shop for best-of-breed apps that solve their particular business problem, no matter if it runs on iOS or Android or BlackBerry or Windows 8. Indeed, apps should drive device selection, not the other way around.  

That’s where an SAP Store for Mobile Apps, which has apps for 3 out of 4 of those platforms today, both from SAP and its ecosystem of partners, would still beat an iOS-only enterprise app store.

Also, most companies will have multiple platforms inside their business. My employer, SAP, for instance, supports RIM, iOS, Android for its workers. That’s 3 platforms. Does it want to have employees going to 3 different platform-run app stores, as well as the ISV-operated ones like the SAP Store?

No, the better experience for employees – and admins – is a single internal enterprise app store managed by its MDM/MAM tool that offers one place for workers to download the apps available to them (based on role, geography, device, etc.).

My guess is that MAM-run enterprise app stores will become the primary front-end for most workers. These internal app stores will aggregate and curate all of the various app stores, whether enterprise or not.

An Apple-run enterprise app store will be great, as will be a Google one when it arrives. But either or both will just be one of several app stores that large enterprises will need to oversee. And that’s what MAM software will do for you.

How Did SAP’s CIO Spend His Summer Vacation?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | August 28, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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Apart from a family trip to Vienna and the Croatian seaside resort of Dubrovnik, SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann and his team had a full plate this summer, especially on mobile initiatives.

Here are some of the highlights:

1) Introducing a new model for tech support. Since the beginning of the summer, SAP has opened up a slew of Mobile Solutions Centers. Its spin on the Apple Genius Bar, think of SAP’s MSC as a corporate IT helpdesk revamped for the BYOD/mobile era.

Each MSC is a friendly (not adversarial) place for workers to come and browse mobile devices and apps and get unhurried, unpatronizing technical advice.  


Credit: SAP

“Moving the IT organizations out of the closet has been very well-received” by employees, says Bussmann. “Giving you a place to test drive devices and apps on your way to lunch is the support model of the future.”

SAP has opened about a dozen MSCs worldwide, including in Bangalore, Mumbai, London and the US and German headquarters in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania and Walldorf. Coming this week: an MSC in Singapore. 

While this high-touch model isn’t the most economical way to provide support, Bussmann says it helps drive better employee satisfaction with IT, and other positive outcomes.

“Should workers lower their expectations [for support] when they leave the Apple Store or Microsoft Store and come to the corporate environment?” he asked.

2) Expanding access to BYOD. SAP has made massive deployments of corporate-owned iPhones and iPads. Perhaps partly as a result, its BYOD program was a late starter compared to other firms. Being a 50,000+ employee company governed by EU data privacy regulations didn’t help, either. 

SAP is making up for lost time. Beginning with granting full BYOD access to Japanese employees hit by the tsunami of 2011, SAP has opened up BYOD to workers in the rest of Asia-Pacific and the US and Canada. By the end of July, SAP had 1,600 devices in its BYOD program, whichi are all managed by SAP Afaria. Just this month (August), workers in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela became eligible for BYOD.

Only Apple devices are eligible for BYOD today. But by September, SAP workers will be able to bring in Android devices made by Samsung, Bussmann said.

The big exception is in Germany. There, employees today can only access corporate data from iPhone or iPad while using Citrix. Full connectivity is coming, though that is subject to negotiations and EU privacy laws.

3) Embracing Android, Windows 8. Since the beginning of the year, SAP has deployed 1,500 Samsung Android Galaxy devices to employees. That has accelerated this summer. 

“I see more and more users internally going for the Galaxy Note,” he said. And the new S III is “a hot device. A lot of executives are asking for that.” (Note: this interview was conducted last week before the Apple-Samsung trial was concluded.)

Bussmann’s IT team has also been testing Windows 8 tablets and laptops from Fujitsu and Samsung. He is enthusiastic about the OS, though he emphasizes that there is no chance that SAP would ever go backwards and standardize completely on Windows 8 for PC and laptop.

“We don’t want to go back to a one-model-fits-all,” he said. “From my perspective, you have to provide choice.”

4) Building and Deploying More Apps. There are more than 35 apps available to SAP employees today, some built by SAP product teams, and some built by SAP IT, such as the SAP Box enterprise cloud storage app, which has been downloaded more than 3,000 times. But IT is working hard to ready and augment many more.

These include HTML5-based apps, imbuing sales apps with more features so that salespeople can instantly generate full sales quotes using just their mobile device, and building a new unified workflow and approval inbox to make things easier for managers and others who confronted with many sales, procurement and HR approvals every day, Bussmann said.


I’ve written before about how Mobile and Big Data are coming together in weird and wonderful ways. Here’s your opportunity to learn more. Leading industry analyst Maribel Lopez (formerly of Forrester Research) will lead an all-day seminar in the Silicon Valley on September 5th on how mobile+analytics can create “right time experiences” for your company. You can register here.

What Do Developers And Influencers Think About The New SAP Mobile Developer Program?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 31, 2012 in Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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SAP has lowered formerly-forbidding barriers for mobile developers to build within its ecosystem.

What Happens to Syclo After Its Acquisition By SAP?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 26, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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If your company suddenly had two products that owned highly-coveted Leader rankings in the same Gartner Magic Quadrant, would you kill one of them? Or would you celebrate your good fortune by trying to accommodate and integrate the two? (more…)

Is This The Most Boring Branch Of Enterprise Mobility?

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | July 25, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Ask a man on the street what the mobile enterprise means to them, and you’ll probably get one of two replies: 1) “Mobile wha?” 2) “BYOD.”

Why BYOD? Well, Bring Your Own Device is the one thing that potentially touches all of us workers, not just IT folks and developers.

No wonder BYOD’s gone totally mainstream – so much that some wiseguy pundits are declaring BYOD to be soooo over, and that we need to boldly go beyond it.

So if BYOD is hot because it’s all about me, what’s obscure and therefore all about meh? Traditionally, that would be industrial mobility, or the practice of mobilizing field service workers.

Mobilizing field workers has been a thriving field for decades, with companies equipping their delivery drivers, repair technicians, surveyors etc. with mobile devices. The problem is that it’s we’ve become accustomed to seeing these guys carrying around mobile devices. Hence, no longer novel.

That’s out in public. Inside most companies, field service only involves a tiny fraction of workers. Hence, obscure.

Also, the mobile devices used by field service have traditionally been homely, ruggedized gear running some green screen Linux-based UI, or, if you’re “lucky,” Windows Mobile or CE. Hence, meh.


Big Turnaround

If you’d asked me even nine months ago, I would’ve wholeheartedly, 100% echoed the sentiments above. Mobilizing knowledge workers and salesfolks – that’s where it’s at!

My attitude adjustment began last November, when I attended the Enterprise Mobility Exchange in Las Vegas. At that conference, which despite its name is all about field service, I learned about Coca-Cola Bottling, which was swapping out ruggedized devices for iPads and encouraging their new owners, delivery drivers, to install and play Angry Birds and other games.

Why? Because drivers would start to get emotionally attached to their iPads and take care of them like their own property. Indeed, Coca-Cola found that the breakage rates for the iPads were lower than its pricier, heavily-armored counterparts.

Then I learned about Aviva, the world’s 6th largest insurance company, deploying BlackBerry PlayBooks to its risk inspectors that it hopes will save gobs of time and money by making its inspectors 2-3 times more productive.

And then I listened to Syclo Mobile’s CEO Rich Padula keynote speech at the company’s (now an SAP subsidiary) user conference last week. You can catch the reply of this and other speeches, including Syclo’s platform roadmap, here, and download the presentations here.

The pre-eminent provider of field service apps, Syclo has been around since the late 1990s. So not only did it survive the era when ruggedized WinMo devices were the only game in town, but it thrived, with 600 customers as proof.

Here were some of the fascinating customer stories Padula shared:

The MGM Grand Hotels wanted to make its room maintenance people more efficient. So as part of a Syclo mobile asset management solution, it stuck “little barcodes around the door frame of each room,” said Padula, which the repairmen could scan as they went in rather than type it. 

Results were great for the first several weeks. But the maintenance department forgot to tell housekeeping. So the Monday after that, the techs discovered that the maids had scrubbed all of the barcodes off. Moral of this story: you need “good interdepartmental communication,” Padula said.

Mobilizing can shorten processes dramatically. What’s so exciting about that? Well, that can save a ton of time and money.


Mobile work orders help HP’s repairpeople save an average of 45 minutes a day. For a full-time worker making $30 an hour, that adds up to $5,600 in savings a year. The cost of managing a work order at healthcare vendor Johnson & Johnson, meanwhile, fell by half, to $4.50 from $9.

Finally, Syclo, if you can believe it, tried to out-innovate Apple. Back in 2004, it introduced a Siri-like voice control feature for an inventory management app. Yes, eight years ago. The feature allowed users to enter data and move through screens by speaking into its device, rather than using a stylus or (gloved) hand.

The voice technology was adopted in some big warehouses, according to Padula, but ultimately failed because workers in maintenance storerooms wouldn’t use it. “We never got the adoption we wanted,” he said.

Padula wasn’t clear why voice control failed, but I wonder if the reason was similar at all to why voice-controlled car computers are not a reality yet.

All in all, you could say that my attitude towards field service mobility is 180 degrees different than it was less than a year ago. There are great stories to be told. Do you have any to share? Please do so in the comments below.

Forget B2B or B2C. Mobile is Making it All About B2P

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | June 7, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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In last year’s Mobility Manifesto, I called for workers to rise up and demand that their bosses empower them with the mobile devices and apps that would make them more productive and happier at work.


Infographic: The Three Things Confounding CIOs Going Mobile

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | May 23, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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It’s the strategies, stupid. (more…)

BYOD + Field Service App = Major ROI for Mortgage Services Firm

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | May 8, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Cleveland-based Safeguard Properties inspects and maintains more than a million foreclosed homes per month across the United States. It does so on behalf of their owners, primarily large banks and government agencies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. (more…)

Gartner: SAP, Syclo Are Leaders of Mobile App Development Platforms

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | May 2, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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I’m gonna knock you out. Mama said knock you out…Gartner just released its Magic Quadrant report (read the full report for free here) on the best Mobile Application Development Platforms. (more…)

$240,000 A Year For An SAP Mobile Architect? Yep, Sounds ‘Bout Right

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | April 27, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Are laid-off investment bankers taking programming classes? They should be, now that salaries for enterprise mobile developers and architects are matching and exceeding Wall Street pay scales.


Should You Become an SAP Mobile Developer? The One Reason That Matters

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | April 26, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Finance and Banking,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Now I know what working at Apple must feel like.

Eleven Intriguing Mobile Sessions at SAPPHIRE NOW

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | April 20, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Finance and Banking,Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News,TechWave | Comments (0)

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As it was in 2011, mobile enterprise buffs will have an overflowing buffet of great content to choose from at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando.


How Does the Pentagon Deploy iPads? Very, Very Carefully [Macworld]

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | January 29, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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Macworld iWorld wasn’t just about exhibit halls full of cute, bizarre accessories for iPads and iPhones.


Why this $90 Billion UK Insurer is High on BlackBerry PlayBooks

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | January 20, 2012 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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The dream of the Paperless Office progresses slowly. But in one front in the War Against Dead Trees, a British insurance firm hopes to make leaps and bounds by using BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. (more…)

SAP and Sybase Taking Action to Ensure No Mobile Developer Left Behind

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | December 19, 2011 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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The Sybase Unwired Platform has generated a fair amount of interest this past year from enterprise developers. But to be honest, there’s been frustration, too. (more…)

The Achilles Heel of Mobile Enterprise Apps

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | November 23, 2011 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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…is probably not what you think it is. And it’s not something within the control of developers (though IT managers sure as heck do).


Five Reasons Why the Amazon Kindle Fire Will Light Up Enterprises

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | November 19, 2011 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility,security | Comments (0)

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Nobody seems to think the Amazon Kindle Fire has a chance of succeeding in business.


The New SAP Store for Mobile Apps: Yep, It’s Kind of a Big Deal.

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | November 9, 2011 in Mobile Industry,Mobility,Sybase News | Comments (0)

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They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. So what about Big Dogs?


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

Eric Lai, Senior Writer | October 3, 2011 in Mobile Data and Messaging,Mobile Industry,Mobility | Comments (0)

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