Tuesday, January 29, 2013

SAPs mobile audience

The Apple of the enterprise? A goal for one billion users (please read that with a Dr Evil voice). Makes a lot of sense for any software licensing organisation. Of course I don't mean to be cynical and firmly believe the mobilisation of enterprise software like SAP has wide ranging benefits. Reading great articles like Joshua Greenbaum's blog you can see that there is confusion in the market wrt how SAP will effectively achieve its goal.  Buying products to expand the portfolio (like the Sybase and Syclo acquisitions) as well as leveraging partner license sales is certainly part of the strategy. For me of interest is where are the users coming from? Take a quick look at each of the mobile user categories i.e. B2E, B2B, and B2C.

Business to enterprise, typically applications that an organisation's users are doing at a desktop. SAP has quite an extensive user base entering their SAP transactions into the GUI. Certainly there is a good case to mobilise a number of these users. You could read business value of B2E applications for a few ideas. So if existing users move from the desktop GUI to a mobile device do they count towards the one billion goal?

Of course there are opportunities in greenfield and replacement projects. When an organisation is moving from legacy to SAP then most will (or should!) consider mobile as an option for some user groups. However if these users would have previously been desktop users and are now mobile users then there is a degree of 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' happening with the licenses. Regardless the licensing concept is fairly simple, users tend to be named, and hence a fee can be charged per user.

Business to business, typically these applications are in the domain of 3PLs or marketing, HR and similar industries. Where by definition one company has a mobile application that is used by another company. For example a business may want an application for their customers (not the general public) to order directly or a 3PL may capture information on behalf of another company. Historically the B2B space has been achieved with interfaces, Edi, portals and the like. As with B2E the licensing can revolve around named users but sometimes there can be challenges here with subcontracting scenarios and the like. There are some great use cases for mobile B2B but compared to the final category the potential number of users is limited.

Business to consumer, the untapped holy grail of enterprise mobile applications.  How can SAP effectively provide valuable mobile applications to consumers? What is the most practical licensing model? The acquisition of the Sybase product suite has immediately brought a lot of consumer banking users under the SAP banner but what about the non-finance sector.

For example a hypothetical business sells, makes to order, and delivers goods to a customer. This business wants to provide a mobile application connected seamlessly to SAP that allows ordering, tracking, and customer self service. Here is an opportunity for SAP to add thousands of potential users to their 1 billion target. However the sticking point is that no one wants to pay for the mobile application. The app store phenomenon has set a low value expectation for mobile applications. How can SAP effectively monetize all these users?

While consumers might believe that B2C mobile applications should be free most businesses understand that they have value. Mobile apps reduce cost by moving some of the effort from employees to the consumer. Apps form part of a marketing, branding, and the advertising strategy. Dammit it's just plain expected these days.

Websites like Google, Facebook, Linkedin, etc. have done a fantastic job of grabbing an audience and these sites continue to evolve their strategies to monetise. One thing they have in common is they don't charge their audience directly to access the service. Often they make money from clever (sometimes unpopular) advertising or market research. Take the online electronic game industry that can now serve advertising between game rounds thus enabling premium games to be played for free. Consider also that in the case of programming languages arguably the most popular are free or in some cases offer premium content for a fee.

To get hold of the largest audience should SAP consider making the SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) for consumer applications free? Or charge for the platform only but not by user volume? Can their creative marketing geniuses come up with a model that would enable wide spread adoption of the platform? I'm sure ideas are being thrown around. What about mobile OS specific container application running html5 with SAP branding that was free to use for consumer applications, but a company could pay to self brand? How about a model where specific services/data sources/tables where able to be mobilised to consumers for little cost?

Over time the technologies and licensing models will continue to evolve and in a lot of ways the explosion of mobile apps is like the Internet bubble. Suddenly there is a way to reach a large potential audience along with the challenge of getting a return on investment.

Edit: For those of you mystified by SAP's licensing Sharon's blog does a great job of providing an overview of how it currently works.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blackberry to be the new King..of MDM (again)

Not too long ago Blackberry was pretty much the only white collar enterprise mobility choice. With great security, physical keyboards, and blackberry messenger they were the favourite of road warriors and IT departments. I remember when iPhone came out that early on a lot of hardcore enterprise mobility people saw them only as fashion accessories.

Now with Android, iOS, and BYOD  everywhere the market for MDM offerings expanded. Gartner publishes a magic quadrant for MDM and products like Afaria, Airwatch, and Zenprise have become an important part of an IT departments arsenal. In the past the white collar devices where covered by the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) and companies like Motorola provided MDM capabilities for their own devices.

As Research In Motion (RIM) has now announced BES10 with MDM support for iOS and Android will they become the new king (again) of MDM? They still have a wide install base (albeit much smaller) running existing BES. Will we see RIM topping the Gartner quadrant anytime soon? I think much rides on the adoption of their new devices and how aggressive they are in selling and marketing their new BES.

Friday, January 25, 2013

BYOD on Fujitsu blog

I wanted to quickly mention that Fujitsu has published my BYOD article on their website: Is it time to BYOD? Wow that now makes me syndicated.....look out Rupert Murdoch :)

You may also note that this BYOD article was published in the Inside SAP magazine.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mobile Apps and Internet of one Thing

The "Internet of Things", a strange phrase but one that came home literally over the holidays when I got myself a new Samsung television. Yes it has internet and apps and it's a thing. I found it a bit tricky to use the standard remote to enter text/etc and being an infrared remote i still have to point it towards the TV. Once you've tried a wifi remote and turned up the volume in the garden you never want to go back. Anyway all this reminded me years ago I had a Nokia phone with embedded infrared and a symbian app to remote control my television. It was more a gimmick than a functional solution but it impressed me at the time. Funny how its taken all these years for me to now get back to using my mobile phone (& now tablet) to control my television.

I've found a couple of free apps that work quite nicely on iOS for controlling the Samsung TV:
  • Samsung Smart View - this app is really just a remote, it doesn't pretend to do much more,  it works well.
  • ZappoTV - this app allows you to share/stream content from your device or from the internet to the tv.
At first I couldn't seem to get the apps to connect, but after I restarted my router no problemo! I've also tried youtube's pairing & queuing offering which is nice on a session by session basis but takes time each use to set it up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Business value of B2E apps

Thanks to the consumerization of information technology and the app store phenomenon Enterprise Mobile Applications are moving away (thankfully) from clunky form driven screens. B2E apps are now expected to provide polished and guided business process with zero learning curve. This of course is a mixed blessing. On one hand there is more up front work in mobile projects to “get it right”. On the other hand when successful there are many benefits to change management, training, process conformity, and increased throughput.
If you already have a case to replace an existing desktop or paper based solution then it will pay to consider “mobile first” where the new solution has mobile components or is entirely mobile based. However if you are proposing to mobilise an existing process then it is important to concentrate on real business value to successfully compete for funds. I like to think of two general benefit categories for Enterprise Mobile Applications. Less Bad and More Good!
Less Bad
·         Eliminating double handling
·         Less paperwork
·         Less travel
·         Inventory holdings can be smaller
·         Mistakes are reduced
·         Less time to up skill new resources

More Good
·         Information is more accurate
·         Information is more timely
·         React more quickly
·         Process more work
·         Plan and schedule more accurately
·         Enable process conformity
·         Spend more time on business activity rather than on IT admin

These general buckets are great for a high level discussion. However when it comes to preparing a business case a more thorough investigation of mobile applications and functionality is required. I’ve compiled a short list by Mobile Application of some typical benefits.
Employee Self Service
Employees are empowered to enter leave/timesheet/expenses directly into their mobile device. The employees can more easily enter the activity when it happens rather than at the end of the week or month.
·         Reduce trips into the office just to do admin
·         Eliminate the need for a VPN token to access  a laptop remotely
·         Information is more accurate – resulting in fewer credit notes
·         Information is timelier – resulting in better planning, reporting, and resulting actions
·         Reduce double handling e.g. taking down timesheets on paper forms and sending them into the office.
·         Photograph/scan receipts directly with the expense claim

CRM / Sales
Employees can access customer and sales activity information at the point of business. Existing data can be updated or new data can be entered at the customer site.
·         Information (customers, activities, sales) is more accurate
·         Reduce double handling e.g. taking down notes and retyping them later
·         Act on customer leads/opportunities/sales in real time
·         Be better prepared for customer facing engagements
·         Spend more time with customers and less time in the office

Service / Plant Maintenance / Asset Maintenance
Employees can receive and view jobs in the field. Jobs can be transacted through to completion and new jobs can be created while on site. Assets can be inspected, updated, and created on the fly.
·         Information (jobs, assets, customers) is more accurate
·         Reduce double handling e.g. taking down notes and retyping them later
·         Easier to plan and schedule workforce
·         React to changes more quickly
·         Less need to travel to the office
·         Take payment directly in the field
·         Print customer receipts in the field
·         Scan and interface directly to data
·         Process conformity

Stock Take
Employees can capture and/or scan counts directly into a mobile device.
·         Reduce time to complete stocktake
·         Reduce paperwork
·         Less count errors
·         Enable more frequent stocktake
·         Enable guided and/or blind stocktakes
·         Enable cycle counting
·         Print new labels
·         Process conformity

Proof of Delivery
Enable employees to receive a schedule of deliveries on a mobile device. While on site enable the update of delivery, inventory, and AR data. Capture customer signatures and take payments at the customer location.
·         Reduction of paperwork
·         Information timeliness
·         Inventory accuracy
·         Improve DIFOT
·         Cash reconciliation simplified
·         AR position accuracy
·         Capture customer signature
·         Reduction of errors and credit notes

Mobile Training & Documentation
Enable employees to receive documentation out in the field to support training and/or OH&S.
·         Push reminders and documents to employees
·         Ensure process conformity
·         Reduce need to travel
·         OH&S

Mobile Inventory/ Warehouse Management
Enable employees to transact receipts, transfers, and other inventory movements with a mobile device and/or scanner.
·         Information is more timely
·         Eliminate errors
·         Eliminate reliance on paperwork
·         Scan documents, inventory, and locations
·         Improve DIFOT

Most organisations have limited funds and plenty of potential candidates for investment. Hopefully the above tips will help when formulating a case for B2E mobile applications. 

Edit 2015 - This topic has proven very popular and been syndicated across many sites. I've included a revised and more detailed version on the entire business case process in my book Enterprise Mobile Tips and Tricks

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mobility Expert Series

While I'm reminiscing I thought I'd mention some older blogs I wrote back when I worked at Sky Technologies. They currently have the series on their website Mobility Expert @ Sky Technologies

The series comprises of the following blogs:
  • Spark of an idea
  • The mobility project RFP
  • Getting the project over the fence
  • Let's get it started
  • What are we building

Edit 2015
Sky Technologies website has been shutdown since it was acquired by Kony. The good news is much of the topics abover are now covered in my book Enterprise Mobile Tips and Tricks

Saturday, January 19, 2013

B2e mobile apps

Back again, this time I've got a blog on the Inside SAP website discussing the topic of HTML5 vs Native code for B2E apps. I suggest it's worth looking at the MEAP offerings MEAP blog on Inside SAP website

Featured in Inside SAP

For my first blog of the year I just wanted to quickly mention my BYOD Enterprise Mobility article in the print and online editions of Inside SAP magazine hope you enjoy it!