Friday, March 1, 2013

SAP Enterprise Mobility and M2M

Recently I presented along with Dr Nick at the Australian Computer Society's Telecommunications Society of Australia in Melbourne. The topic was SAP Enterprise Mobility and M2M. The slide deck and further information about the talk are on the TSA website. Here is an overview for those who couldn't attend:

Enterprise Hairball
A typical enterprise landscape with regards to mobility has evolved over time based on point to point solutions. For example one initiative may have developed an application natively to suit a palm pilot or blackberry. When this was done some good thoughts where put into security and integration. What we find however is that sometime later another initiative in a different org unit will start up. More often than not with its own security layer, integration and technical solution. Over time this results in spaghetti of connectivity, infrastructure, and support hassles resulting in a high total cost of ownership.

A Good Strategy
SAP Strategy is to bring a standardised common approach to mobility. Where multiple back end systems (including non-SAP environments), databases and applications can be mobilised using a best of breed platform. The platform enables customers along with SAP and its partners to develop and manage mobile applications in a common way.

The Platform
At the centre of the solution is the SAP Mobile Platform. This layer provides safe secure connectivity, integration, application, and data service management. It’s underpinned by the leading Mobile Device Management solution Afaria and supports a very wide variety of devices. The mobile software development kit leverages Eclipse along with other tools and makes use of standards like OData to deliver native, HTML5, or container mobile applications. In a nutshell the platform supports the 4 C's (consume, connect, create, and control).

Unification Time
As you may be aware SAP’s mobile strategy incorporated purchasing best of breed components. While continuing to maintain, upgrade, and release updates to these individual products SAP’s approach includes a strategy to sensibly unify.  So today for mobile application development and management there are 3 key components that have a rich heritage around the world with both SAP and non-SAP users:
  • SAP Unwired Platform (SAP has leveraged this for many of the Line of Business Applications)
  • Syclo Agentry (Strong heritage with Service and transformative mobile applications with both SAP, Maximo and other back end environments)
  • Sybase Mobiliser (With the flagship 365 product suite used extensively by financial institutions, telecommunications companies and especially in the B2C arena)
Moving forward a number of steps are being undertaken to reduce complexity and unify these components. The first step is to bring together common administration tasks like installation, licensing, and documentation. To be followed by the unification of the modelling and designer aspects along with a full range of supporting services like security, authentication, and analytics.
The timeframe is aggressive. Gone are the days of a 12-24 month release cycle. With the rapidly changing mobile arena it’s easy to understand the importance of quickly getting to market in an incremental and agile way. 

Mobile Wallet
The SAP mobile wallet solution is widely used to add value to consumers, financial institutions, and telecommunications companies. It reduces the cost of services and customer churn and is leveraged as a marketing tool. Mobile Wallet solutions are being used in both emerging and established markets. In the developing world a mobile wallet solution can provide services where a bricks and mortar presence is difficult or not cost effective. Some examples of where the SAP solution is used include:
  • Celcom Aircash (customer self-service, remittance, and top-up)
  • MyClear Malaysia (multiple finance and teleco companies on a common solution)
  • QTEL Mobile Money (international money transfers without queuing in a physical location)
  • Singtel mPayment (top-up and manage toll accounts from a mobile)

LOB
SAP and its partners offer a wide variety of line of business COTS mobile applications. Covering areas like HR,  Supply Chain, IT, Finance, CRM, Sales, Service, and Analytics. These applications can be seen in all the app stores. A good way to check out the range is to download SAP’s own mobile app store. In this application you easily find applications by industry or technology type and can view videos, technical information, and screen shots relating to each app.

Lots of Things
In recent times the number of things connected to the internet has exceeded the number of people on earth, and it doesn’t look like this growth is stopping anytime soon. These days we have televisions, air conditioners, industrial machines, cameras, and you name it connected to the internet.

A Rich Reach
SAP’s vision for M2M is about the expanding richness and reach of capability. Not long ago mobile phones where only being used for calls and SMS.  More recently mobile applications meant an expansion of the experience for individuals. This is quickly evolving into sharing secure content socially and with workplaces, customers and vendors. Resulting now in the possibility of ‘the Internet of things’ with the largest solution reach and richness.  A couple of current examples include:
  • Smart Cars - collaboration with mutual benefit for consumers, utilities, and retailers
  • Smart Logistics -  real time, end to end visibility of the supply chain
  • Smart Vending  - bringing together marketing, planning, supply chain, replenishment

Now and Soon
M2M has been around for a long time, sensors with process knowledge have been installed for 40 years. Currently most solutions are vendor specific and stove pipe in nature. The vision of "the internet of things" is a layer of information sharing across the billions of connected things enabling clever use of big data and knowledge. Think creatively along the lines of the "Smart" scenarios. There are some exciting initiatives in this space to bring some standardisation including MQTT.