Thursday, July 01, 2010

What I Learned about Mobility at Sapphire 2010, Part 3

I expect to see a lot of battles between mobility vendors and Sybase. Although mobility vendors publicly play nice, there is a lot of competition for this fast growing market. Sybase brings a lot of capabilities to the table. They will not be satisfied being a mobile middleware player (see Sybase and Field Services). I expect them to start releasing their own libraries of mobile applications for the largest markets, and use their inside knowledge of SAP sales leads and accounts to aggressively go after them.

Having Sybase develop and sell mobile applications has always been a problem.  Sybase OEMs (used as a verb) their middleware to hundreds of software companies, and they have always hesitated to compete with their customers.  It will be interesting to see if they can resist this temptation when the entire SAP user base is available to them.  My guess is Sybase will not resist.  As a result, SAP mobility partners will need to dig deeper into industries and niche markets to defend and grow their positions.

How does the SAP mobility partner trust partnering with Sybase on mobile middleware, when they are also competing on mobile applications?  It will be interesting.

I believe Sybase will be swamped with sales leads for custom mobile applications. There is a backlog of demand.  The problem, however, is that Sybase has traditionally staffed a very small professional services group that has little industry knowledge. That should mean more work for trained systems integrators.  Pay attention SIs!!!

Now that the mobile integration strategy for working in SAP environments is becoming clearer, mobile application vendors need to start developing rapid application development tools specifically for mobilizing SAP. Seriously! You should be able to develop screen layouts for the various mobile OS environments, and drag and drop database fields from SAP into the mobile client. All the coding behind the scenes should be automated.  Vendors should have a one year grace period and then no excuses.

I have a lot of experience in the mobile software development tools area and can say with authority that developing RAD (rapid application development tools) is difficult. However, if you already know the data source and the required fields for a business process, then it can be a lot easier. Simplicity is good. I challenged Sybase for years to develop a RAD tool and have yet to see one that a business analyst can use.

The bottom line - SAP mobility partners can stop focusing on mobile middleware (leave it to SAP/Sybase) and focus more on becoming industry and business process experts. Increasingly, the value they offer will be in developing mobile applications with deep industry and process expertise. They should be looking at all the various business processes and SAP industry business units (around 28 the last I checked) and identify the verticals where there are the most opportunities and where deep industry knowledge can help them develop defensible market positions.

Here are a few examples:

  • Hazardous waste and chemical management
  • CPG food/meat processing inspections
  • Mobile animal lifecycle tracking applications (beef, dairy, chicken, hog, etc)
  • Mobile insurance claims
  • Mobile healthcare applications
  • Mobile eldercare applications
  • Mobile chronic disease management applications
  • Mobile oil and gas pipeline inspections
  • Mobile disaster relief applications
  • Mobile damage assessment applications
  • Mobile facility and security management applications
  • Mobile applications for customers of SAP customers and their markets (retail apps, marketing apps, etc.)
  • etc.
I am throwing around a lot of opinions here, so please share your comments and views as well! We can figure this all out together.

What I Learned About Mobility at Sapphire 2010, Part 1
* What I Learned About Mobility at Sapphire 2010, Part 2

*Read the latest news and market numbers on enterprise mobility at Mobility News Weekly.

*Join the Linkedin Group, SAP Enterprise Mobility, it has over 750 members now.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
CEO/Principal Consultant, Netcentric Strategies LLC
***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.