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SAP's Mobile EAM Solution

Observations about SAP Enterprise Mobility, MEAPS and SDKs

I am attending the SAPinsider Mobile2012 event in Las Vegas this week, and have had the honor of meeting and speaking with many people involved in SAP enterprise mobility.  These people were SAP partners and SAP employees.  One of the distinct impressions I got was that most are focused on simply extending existing SAP systems out to a mobile user, but not focused on transforming businesses with mobility.

I attended a session on SAP's mobile EAM solution (enterprise asset management) yesterday.  In it they demonstrated how the mobile app integrated with SAP and extended SAP fields out to the mobile device. However, there was no SDK (software development kit) that would enable the user to customize the app for their specific requirements and projects.  It is basically a generic hard coded solution that extends SAP EAM functionality to the field.  There is value to that, but not transformational value.

I asked the SAP person if they used the SAP's mobile SDK to build the mobile EAM solution and they said no.  This seems very odd to me.  Shouldn't SAP's mobile SDK be robust enough to be used by SAP  to develop their own mobile applications?

When I was the CEO of a mobile application's company a few years ago, we had a MEAP and an SDK robust enough to be used to deliver all of our own custom mobile applications.  We then made that SDK available to our clients so they could use it in the future to edit and support their apps.  That SDK was built to be used on top of Sybase's iAnywhere solutions.  I don't understand why years later SAP/Sybase has not dramatically improved upon that model.

I am a strong advocate that companies should select a MEAP and IDE (integrated development environment) and use those to deliver as many of their mobile solutions as possible.  That doesn't mean you need to develop them internally, it means you can develop internally, buy off-the-shelf or contract with third party mobile experts to develop solutions for you - just insist they use your selected MEAP and IDE.

Today it seems that even if you purchased all of SAP's mobile apps, you would get a plethora of applications developed in many different ways and with many different development tool kits, styles and manners.  This is exactly what you want to avoid.  How can you support that kind of collection long term?  The TCO (total cost of ownership) would be high.

SUP can solve the MEAP issue if you can afford it, but there needs to be a standardized software development kit sufficient to support the majority of your mobile solutions, and that permits you to make edits and updates to your own solutions.  Mobile apps should not be held hostage to service providers or ERP vendors.

Through my many years of enterprise mobility experience I have come to realize there are many, many projects in the field that would benefit from mobile solutions.  Many of these projects are unique and their needs for unique data and mobile data collection require the ability to rapidly develop and deploy mobile solutions that may only be used for 6 months (the duration of the project).  Robust mobile SDKs should be able to deliver that.  Without a good mobile SDK you are again in bondage to a vendor, and your project based work suffers.

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is an opinionated futurist, Principal Analyst at the Center for Digital Intelligence™, C4DIGI.com, emerging technologies analyst, and digital transformation and business strategy consultant. In the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries, and is a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide. He spent nearly 5 years working as a Senior Analyst at Cognizant (CTSH), and 2 years serving in Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work where he wrote many reports, hundreds of articles, interviewed technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries. He has written articles published in The Guardian, wrote the Forward to SAP Press' book titled "Mobilizing Your Enterprise with SAP", published over 3,000 articles and was featured as thought leader and digital strategist in the Department of Defense's IQT intelligence journal. Kevin lectures and leads workshops, teaches and consults with companies and government agencies around the world to help develop digital transformation and business strategies. Visit his website at C4DIGI.com.

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