Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Which Mobile Application Company Will SAP Acquire Next?

I was speaking with an SAP executive last month about SAP's partner strategy for enterprise mobility.  The executive said that SAP ecosystem mobility partners would be well served to focus on building vertical industry specific business processes into their mobile applications, as SAP would be focusing more on horizontal business processes.  The executive went on to say that SAP would seek to partner first for vertical expertise and then consider acquiring select companies that showed success and penetration in key SAP markets.

This conversation got me thinking.  Which vertical industries would be the likely targets of mobile applications that SAP might want to acquire?  Could it be one of the following?
  • Oil and Gas
  • Utilities
  • Retail (Location-Based Services, Coupons, Mobile Marketing)
  • Plant Maintenance
  • Chemicals
  • Mining
  • Transportation
  • Facilities Management
  • Enterprise asset management
What do you think? 

Where is there a market opportunity to sell a lot of mobile application licenses to existing SAP customers?  The mobile application(s) should extend or compliment existing SAP supported business processes, and include significant vertical expertise and IP (intellectual property) not found in current SAP solutions.  My guess is these markets are anxiously waiting for an SAP endorsed solution.

Where is the value for SAP outside of just a new revenue source?  I think it is in business process support, business logic, business rules, database schemas and the ability to support all major mobile operating systems and mobile devices.  SAP is also recognizing that mobile applications are the new desktop, especially for companies with significant mobile work forces.  They believe mobile applications provide a competitive edge.

In reviewing the above list I suggest that the ability to support both offline and online mobile applications is important.  This is the rich/thick client model with on device databases, security and synchronization.  That means a good mobile middleware solution (like SUP) is an important component.  The interesting question is how would SAP look at a mobility vendor with their own proprietary middleware component.  Would they find value in it, or would it be throw away?

The next thing you want to consider is which mobility partner(s) of SAP has the least overlap in technologies with Sybase.  The less technology overlap the better.  Since Sybase has traditionally been mobile middleware focused, I think that the larger number of mobile applications in a vendor's inventory, the more appealing it would be as an acquisition target.

What other criteria should we add to this list?  Which mobility vendor(s) do you think best fit this description?

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
Follow me on 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.