Monday, February 22, 2010

Advice for Mobile Start-ups: Working with SAP, Part 5

Part 4 of this series may have demoralized some mobile start-ups hoping to work closely with SAP, but Part 5 in this series provides solutions to many of the challenges identified in Part 4. Let's now take a closer look at some of the comments I made in Part 4.

The SAP customer is simplifying their IT infrastructure to reduce complexity and no non-SAP technology will be added unless it is approved by 17 business and IT committees. Who has the time to fight this battle?

  • Embed your solution in SAP so it becomes a part of SAP and avoids these issues (Sky Technologies, a Certified SAP Partner embeds their mobile solutions in SAP)
  • Simply provide a mobile application or iPhone view of SAP's current applications (Mobile micro-apps)

The IT Managers only want to learn mobile technology that will add to their resume and help them get their next assignment. The cool mobile technology that they just witnessed does not have its own category on the IT recruiters' websites. They want NAME power on their resume.

  • Show IT managers how to extend their current SAP infrastructure and code to mobile applications. This will accomplish their purposes.
  • Show IT managers that your solution is from a Certified SAP Partner

The SAP system integrator does not support the mobile technology, so recommends some other mobile solution that they support and have trained experts on.

  • Go directly to the end user with your message and evangelize and educate them. Build support internally for the "best" mobile technology. Close the deal first, then motivate the system integrator to be trained on your mobile technology and play a role in the implementation.

The SAP sales team does not get quota credit on it, but they do on another mobile solution. If the sales person does not make their numbers they are fired, so they do not care which mobile technology is better if it does not help keep their job.

  • Find a way for your mobile technology to sell more SAP licenses and products. Perhaps the mobile workforce that is not currently using SAP licenses will need them if they are connected via mobile devices. This would encourage the SAP sales force to work with you to sell more SAP licenses. Think in terms of the SAP AE's interests as well as the customers.

SAP's Industry Principals and Solutions Managers also must be very selective as to the mobile technology they recommend. They would not want to recommend a product that was not on the SAP price list or Certified Partner list, unless there was no other viable choice or this product helped sell other SAP licenses that benefited the SAP sales team.

  • SAP has only identified a few mobile categories for partnerships; field service automation, route/delivery and mobile CRM. I can tell you from personal experience that hundreds of mobile applications are needed in most large enterprises. Mobile applications that deal with security, asset management, inspections, compliance, job estimating, fleet management, engineering, construction, logistics, etc. There are massive opportunities to mobilize these business processes.
  • Show the SAP user and the SAP sales team how you can help them.

SAP customers are often on 5 year plans. These plans include upgrades, roll-outs, add-ons, customization, old product sun setting, mergers and acquisitions, etc. What does this mean to the mobile entrepreneur? It means your product needs a 5 year road map that aligns with SAP and the SAP customer's. If it does not, you are unlikely to survive the first round.

  • Be the thought leader and explain where mobility is going to be in 5 years. Tell them why your solution is better aligned with the direction of mobility than any.

The biggest project and highest priority in the company is around route delivery improvement, and your project is mobile SAP CRM. The route delivery mobility vendor agrees to extend their mobile solution into mobile CRM and since it is a higher priority, you lose.

  • Understand the decision making process, organizational chart and budget limits within IT and the department you are targeting. Can you keep the project cost below the threshold that requires additional management approvals? Can you break down your project so that yearly costs keep it below the approval thresholds so you can simply focus on this one department until it is firmly established?

The CIO will never get invited to speak in front of thousands at Sapphire if they choose your solution. Your user conferences could be held at Denny's.

  • Become a Certified SAP partner and attend Sapphire yourself. Be a mobile solution provider in a different category than other larger mobility vendors. Be the mobile application provider for; food processors, engineers, bridge inspections, healthcare, quality assurance, sustainability, etc., and then expand your mobile offerings. That is exactly what all the other mobile partners of SAP are doing.

If you would like to discuss these strategies and/or my consulting practice please contact me.

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Author Kevin Benedict
Mobility Consultant, Wireless Industry Analyst and Web 2.0 Marketing Expert

***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert and as such I work with, and have worked with, many of the companies mentioned in my articles.