Kevin: What are some of the most surprising trends you are saw in mobility in 2010?
Hans: Personally I have to say that I am surprised by the fact that the large vendors (SAP, Sybase, Oracle, QlikView) still push hard on BI solutions for smartphones. The UI/UX doesn’t lend itself to a task like that. It looks sexy, but if you are running an important business function, why would you need to see dashboards, cut and slice BW data etc. on a 3.5” screen? They are pushing a segment that is served (well) by laptops with 3G wireless – and a keyboard!
A second surprising trend for me was that most companies emerged from the financial crisis ready to take on new IT projects. Yet a surprisingly small number of companies (in Scandinavia) have enterprise mobility on the agenda. In transportation, supply chain, field service, maintenance, QA, etc., we continue to demonstrate dramatic business cases, yet many top managers seem unaware of the gold lying at their feet! I think that the processes mobility can improve are either not core to the company (i.e. internal maintenance and inspection) or not sexy enough for decision makers to bother about! Often the process ownership is in middle management, and it’s not in their job description to be visionary.
Kevin: What are some of the biggest challenges you see in mobility today?
Hans: Awareness in the enterprise market. Mobility is core to many companies, but not yet on management's agenda. Also, most of our enterprise users own a smartphone and are pampered by snazzy app stores, where apps compete in looking sexy and offer the best UX. To offer similarly appealing enterprise apps is a real challenge and user adoption and project success depends on it.
Kevin: How are enterprise mobility implementations different from other typical IT projects?
Hans: We work exclusively in the SAP market space. Mobile projects often fail to reach their success criteria when done exclusively by the SAP project organization; too much ASAP (accelerated SAP Implementation methodology) does not work well for SOA environment.
Kevin: What do companies fail to plan for when implementing mobility?
Hans: If they have no SOA experience, they fail to realize how many links there are in the mobility business ‘service chain’, from cell phone plans to VPN certificates over middleware application management, help desk training, etc. Most are used to operating just the monolithic ERP and office apps and their respective GUIs.
Kevin: What advice do you have for companies just starting down an enterprise mobility path?
Hans: Decide on a enterprise mobility strategy. Keep the strategy practical with just the ground rules regarding thing like devices supported, security, what platforms to use, etc., and make sure you have a full management mandate to enforce it. Be in control of your business processes and use them to identify your initial business cases by looking for 1) processes that jump (involve more than one system) IT systems, 2) where you have an existing paper process, or 3) where roles/responsibilities change. Identify the ROI for each case and keep in mind that ROI can be financial but also qualitative (i.e. quality/environmental/legislative goals). Start your first project not with the best business case, but with one that covers most of the new technology and methodology you have to master and also has a fairly small size and complexity. I have a full jumpstart presentation at SAP Insider 2011 in Paris on the topic.
Kevin: How important is mobile device management and security?
Hans: Many companies entering their first mobility project fail to take this seriously enough. Security is fairly easy to approach as it looks like laptop and smartphone requirements, but the device management side of things is new to many customers. Getting to terms with the device management service processes and realizing that you need new tools to help you out (SOTI, etc.) takes some selling on our (consultant) part.
Kevin: What should companies know about enterprise mobility?
Hans: Enterprise Mobility is not just about smartphones and the iPad! Consider all technologies that apply to the domain when you review your options for solving a process issue or improving your operations. Maybe an iPhone app is not the only way to go mobile? Consider Adobe Interactive Forms, SAP Duet in Outlook, SAP Enterprise Services (huge repository of webservices for SAP), SMS services through your own gateway, webportal access for mobile browsers, etc., etc. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
Kevin: What makes your company different from your competitors?
Hans: We don’t push standard products! We come from business consulting and apply our process knowledge together with a host of baseline mobile apps to a customer requirement. We then configure and enhance the baseline to each customer's individual needs.
Kevin: Where do you see mobility going in 2011?
Hans: Tablets are going to be big for the white collar markets, and indications from the mobile device manufacturers are that we will see ruggedized (blue collar) tablets as well. This will open up a lot of new areas like viewing drawings and parts lists, creating complex sales orders, manipulating data properly, etc.
Thank you Hans for sharing your knowledge, experiences and insights with all of us!
To read more in the Mobile Expert Interview series click here.
Kevin Benedict, Independent Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst, SAP Mentor Volunteer
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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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.