September 18, 2012 // By: Heather McIlvaine
At the NEO Mobile Business Conference 2012, SAP presented its long-term plan for a single, integrated mobile platform, and explained how existing platforms from Sybase and Syclo come into play.
Over 150 SAP partners and customers gathered in Berlin, Germany, on September 17 for the 8th annual NEO Mobile Business Conference. Event hosts and co-founders of NEO Mobile Business Partners GmbH, Arvin Arora and Jens Beier, set the tone for the event in their opening keynote, which focused on the challenges and opportunities that companies face in mobilizing the business. They touched on familiar concerns such as data security and multi-device support, and then brought up a challenge that, until now, hasn’t received much attention: the increasing diversity of the types of mobile applications being deployed in the enterprise today.
The number of mobile enterprise apps has exploded in recent years. There are lightweight applications that support just a few specific functions, and heavy-duty ones that allow users to carry out every imaginable task while on the go. Some apps don’t necessarily need to be connected to the Internet to be useful; others wouldn’t provide any benefit without a network connection. There are employee-centric apps, and increasingly, apps for customer-facing, B2C functions. What is the problem with this diversity of mobile applications?
Inefficiency. At the moment, SAP doesn’t have one mobile platform that supports all these different kinds of apps. The Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP), for example, is for employee-focused apps in various business areas and industries, while Sybase 365 covers B2C apps in lines-of-business like banking and marketing. Syclo’s Agengtry, on the other hand, is a much smaller mobile platform best suited to highly-specialized apps in field service and mobile asset management. As soon as a company starts deploying a mixture of application types, it runs into the challenge of managing security policies, user authorizations, and data transfer parameters across multiple platforms.
This is why SAP plans to introduce a single, integrated platform. It is referred to today as the SAP Mobile Platform. The road map for the new offering is still subject to change, but Alexander Arnold, head of the Center of Excellence for Mobility in the DACH region at SAP, laid out the current plans in his presentation. According to Arnold, SAP’s transformation from its current multi-platform approach to a unified SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) is expected to occur in three steps.