Tuesday, March 02, 2010

SAP Mobility Challenge, Part 2

This article continues the discussion started in SAP Mobility Challenge, Part 1.

In the following excerpts from press releases issued by SAP's partners you can see that SAP understands and appreciates the significance of mobile applications in field service management. How does that appreciation translate into recommendations for SAP customers?

First let's look at an excerpt from a press release issued by SAP/ClickSoftware and a quote from the SAP Solution Management group. "There is growing demand in the market for more comprehensive field service management that incorporates decision support and optimization," said Tobias Dosch, senior vice president, Suite Solution Management, SAP AG. "Our relationship with ClickSoftware is a prime example of how SAP meets specific customer needs by leveraging our partner ecosystem to complement and extend SAP solution offerings."

SAP will resell ClickSoftware's ServiceOptimization Suite as the SAP® Workforce Scheduling and Optimization application by ClickSoftware, helping customers meet the challenge of optimizing the mobile service workforce. SAP Workforce Scheduling and Optimization helps customers to automate real-time proactive and reactive decision-making. Having the ability to act in real time on data from the field and produce optimal decisions for resource allocation and job scheduling can help SAP and ClickSoftware customers obtain the benefits of implementing a comprehensive service optimization solution.

Second, let's look at an excerpt from a press release issued by Syclo. "Syclo…announced an agreement centered around co-innovation with SAP AG to deliver mobile applications that enable maintenance and service technicians access to SAP® Business Suite software from a broad range of devices regardless of connectivity. They are designed for work order execution, operator rounds, time/attendance tracking and materials management.

"The cooperation with Syclo enables our customers to increase the productivity of maintenance and field service technicians by connecting them to SAP Business Suite for work order or service order execution, operator rounds and materials management," said Dieter Hässlein, vice president, Solution Management for EAM, Sustainability and Mobile.

Thirdly, let's consider the SAP/Sybase announcements.

In March 2009, Sybase and SAP announced a strategic Co-Innovation Partnership to extend SAP to mobile workers on a wide array of mobile devices… "Our customers demand mobile access to proven business applications to stay connected to their customers, suppliers, partners and employees to drive innovation and productivity," said Bill McDermott, president, Global Field Operations, and member of the SAP executive board SAP AG. "SAP is committed to helping customers adapt to business change and optimize the value derived from our leading solutions and extensive partner ecosystem. Working together with Sybase, we will provide the modern mobile workforce with the tools they need on the device of their choice, which will enable faster time to value, through access to business functionality anytime, anywhere."

The three press release excerpts above show that three different SAP groups (SAP Suite Solution Management, Global Field Operation and SAP Solution Management for EAM, Sustainability and Mobile) are recommending three different mobile solutions for the mobile workforce. I can tell you from experience that many mobile business processes such as field services management are very similar across industries. The challenge here is which application does the SAP field sales team recommend to SAP customers? Should SAP customers buy different mobile solutions and different mobile clients for Asset Management, CRM and field services operations?

Last week I received a SAP EcoHub announcement of a webinar called, Defining Your Mobile Strategy. In it, SAP's Certified Partner Sky Technologies discussed the value of using one MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform) to organize and manage all mobile business processes from within an SAP environment. Here is yet a fourth mobility alternative promoted from within SAP's partner website.

I am still pondering the question I asked in Part 1 of this series - from a mobile technology and IT management perspective, does it make more sense for SAP to have one MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform) that best integrates and supports SAP's underlying architecture and product roadmap, rather than recommending the mobile applications from multiple partners? Can you image the challenges you would face if you were the IT manager of an SAP customer responsible for dozens of different mobile applications, using different mobile middleware, different security methodologies, different application development environments, etc., for each business process? Yikes!!

I would like to hear your thoughts and comments.

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