Friday, August 20, 2010

Report on the SAP Sybase Executive Briefing on August 19th

I was fortunate to have attended yesterday's SAP Sybase Executive Briefing in Boston.  Also attending were SAP Mentors, Jon Reed and Susan Keohan, "the workflow goddess."  There was a lot covered, but in this report I am going to focus on what I learned about enterprise mobility there.  First, I will provide some impressions and then drill into some details.  Keep in mind that this is my biased interpretation (i.e. analysis) of what I heard.

The SAP team wanted to communicate that SAP is a different company, with different management now.  They want to leave the slow, grinding and bureaucratic company and image behind.  They want to be passionate about innovation and technology again.  They want to excite the markets and excite customers with brilliance and innovation.  I was given off-the-record insight into changes in personnel that were intended to support this change.

I heard several themes at the briefing - game changer and transformational innovation.  SAP believes that mobility and in-memory technology that Sybase brings to the equation are game changers.  They will change the world.  The combined SAP/Sybase solutions and technology will be transformational to the industry and to SAP.

SAP has three core strategies this year - on premise, on demand and on device.  Mobile is one third of the SAP focus this year.  However, the entire first hour of the executive briefing was about just mobility!

I spoke with many of the SAP executives and Sybase management about enterprise mobility.  These are smart people.  They have thought through mobility.  Brian Vink said they have been working on mobile CRM with SAP for three years so know SAP intimately. 

I asked Brian Vink the following question over lunch, "Is synchronization more or less important today than in the past?"  He answered that it was just as important today for a MEAP (mobile enterprise application platform).  He said although not all mobile applications need offline/online support and database synchronization, nearly every enterprise will need it.  Any complex mission critical mobile application usually involves databases.  My interpretation of his comment - all enterprises will have a range of mobile application needs, however, nearly all will have a subset of complex mobile applications that need synchronization.

Co-CEO Bill McDermott spoke about real-time enterprises.  Brian Vink with Sybase said real-time enterprises can only happen if all of the solutions are mobilized.  Vink added that all information needs to be mobilized, because the workforce is mobile.

The management teams of both companies emphasized that all enterprises in the next 5 years must be mobilized.  They believe almost all applications will need mobile extensions.  With this vision it is perfectly understandable why SAP spent $5.8 billion on Sybase.

It is important to note that mobility goes way beyond what most people think.  It covers Tablet PCs, laptops, in-vehicle entertainment systems, healthcare monitoring equipment, M2M, e-Readers, email synchronization, mobile security, mobile banking, home energy management systems, and a plethora of other things.  We need to expand our thinking about mobility.  The market is massive!

Brian Vink talked about SAP/Sybase support for M2M (machine to machine) as being an important growth area.  I agree which is why I am writing a weekly newsletter on M2M.  This market is predicted to reach 50 billion embedded wireless devices by 2024. 

Vishal Sikka, SAP Executive Board Member, said SAP has made a major strategic change.  Rather than creating new innovations and technologies that run only on the latest versions of SAP solutions, they will now ensure that major innovations are supported on the majority of all older versions and platforms as well.  New innovations should be able to be used by the majority of the SAP community.

Vishal said, "The math does not work if we invest in new technology that can only be used by a small fraction of our base.  We need to ensure that our best and most innovative solutions can be used by the majority of our community.  The math works when you do that!"

Here are some of the notes I took during the day.
  • NetWeaver Mobile, Project Gateway, Afaria and SUP will combine in the next 9 months (targeting Sapphire 2011).
  • Sybase is targeting Sapphire for a launch of a mobile SDK.  This will provide developers with everything they need to design, develop, deploy and support mobile enterprise applications, except the device specific GUIs and device functions.  Device GUIs and functions are developed using the mobile OS SDKs (i.e. iPhone SDK, Blackberry SDK, Android SDK).
  • All SAP mobility partners better adopt this strategy or be left in the dust.
  • Enterprise mobility vendors should immediately refocus investments on mobile middleware to mobile applications and vertical industry support.
  • Project Gateway is the way the external world will communicate with SAP.
  • SAP and Sybase will work closely together on mobility, but maintain separate operations and sales forces.  Sybase is making good money, so leave it alone.
  • SAP and Sybase will jointly work together on SAP related mobile sales opportunities.  As a result, SAP and Sybase sales teams will want to only be introducing mobile solutions that they get compensated on.  This is key for enterprise mobility vendors to understand.  If you want SAP or Sybase help to close a deal, then there better be a compensation plan.
  • Third party mobility vendors in the SAP ecosystem are absolutely needed and supported, but enterprise mobility vendors better be supporting the Sybase Unwired Platform and NetWeaver if they want help from SAP and sales support in the long term.
  • Sybase said that SAP has over 22 vertical industries.  SAP and Sybase will look at the mobility needs of each of these industries and prioritize them. 
  • SAP and Sybase will try to jointly provide mobile solutions for a handful of key mobile solutions like SFA (sales force automation).
  • SAP's Nick Brown, SVP of Mobility highlighted the value that ClickSoftware and Syclo bring to the SAP ecosystem.  He said both of these companies are onboard with supporting the SAP/Sybase roadmap and will be deploying their solutions on SUP.  They both offer excellent industry knowledge and experience and have deep industry expertise.
  • SAP and Sybase will be identifying "whitespace" markets where there are not currently recognized mobile solutions.  They will survey customers to understand how important these areas are to them.  If they are important to a significant number, then SAP/Sybase will look for a mobility partner to fill that space.  If the space ultimately becomes mission critical and core to the SAP environment, then SAP may look to acquire.
  • There are big opportunities for enterprise mobility vendors that support SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform) with deep vertical industry expertise in the 20 plus verticals supported by SAP.  Deep industry knowledge makes you valuable to Sybase and SAP. 
  • Mobile vendors that are generalists will find it increasingly difficult to find a niche in the SAP ecosystem.
  • Sybase and SAP have been working together on mobile applications for at least 3 years.  They have been jointly developing mobile CRM.
  • SAP believes all "real time" enterprises will need mobility.
  • SAP believes that all future development needs to have mobile support as a default.
  • SAP believes hundreds and thousands of different mobile applications are needed to support various business processes and functions.
  • I kept hearing about an SAP solution called Event Inside and event streams...I must learn more.
I will likely think of more information that I missed, but this is the majority.  I also filmed a five part YouTube series following the briefing that can be found on the SAP Mentor channel on YouTube.
  1. SAP/Sybase Briefing, Part 1
  2. SAP/Sybase Briefing, Part 2
  3. SAP/Sybase Briefing, Part 3
  4. SAP/Sybase Briefing, Part 4
  5. SAP/Sybase Briefing, Part 5
Jon Reed, SAP Mentor filmed an interview with Vishal Sikka at lunch yesterday - Click here to view.

If you want to read my real time tweets from the briefing yesterday, then join me on twitter - @krbenedict.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
twitter @krbenedict
Join SAP Enterprise Mobility on Linkedin:

Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.