SAP Mobility Trends - An SAP Community Podcast with SAP Mentors Benedict and Appleby

podcastlogo_jonerp.gifPodcast: Listen Now!
Vendor Podcast - Tracking SAP Mobility Trends with SAP Mentors John Appleby and Kevin Benedict
An SCN Community Podcast
Hosted by Jon Reed of
Podcast Interview Date: July 2, 2010
View Transcript

One of the key messages from SAPPHIRENOW 2010 is that this is the year of SAP mobility. To get a better handle on how mobility trends impact the enterprise and how to track those trends on the SAP Community Network, Jon Reed sat down with SAP Mentors John Appleby and Kevin Benedict. During this twenty minute podcast, John and Kevin explain the difference between enterprise mobility and point solutions and share their take on the SAP mobility trends to watch for this year.

Both Kevin and John are experienced SCN bloggers, and one of the highlights of the podcast is hearing their tips on how to get started blogging and how the conversational nature of SCN blogs has impacted their mobility work. 

Editor's note: there is a mobility section on SCN as well as a mobile blog category to follow.

Podcast Highlights

:50 How John and Kevin became active in the SAP community in the mobility space?

2:44 What are the differences between "mobile point solutions" and an "Enterprise Mobility" strategy? Kevin: there are different kinds of applications to consider, browser-based apps, micro-apps (iPhones, BlackBerry apps, etc). Lightweight mobile apps can be effective in an SAP environment, such as lightweight approval functionality. The downside of browser-based apps? They do not take advantage of native smart phone environment. Then there are rich clients, which contain data on the mobile device. Then there is MEAP (Mobile Enterprise Application Platform). Think middleware, security, mobile device management. As for point solutions, an example would be a field service app. You might be providing a mobile application just to your field service app. In the case of point solutions, you're not trying to address all your enterprise needs.

6:44 Jon to John: Are you seeing companies lean towards either enterprise-wide solutions or point solutions? John: in the last five years, we've seen massive point solutions like asset management or field service. In this case, there are massive efficiencies to be had by updating data on the move. That's where the big ROI was. Now there has been a paradigm shift. People have their smart phones at home, and ask, "Why don't I have one of these for my time sheets?" We're seeing a shift from multiple point solutions to the corporate realization a whole mobile roadmap is needed.

8:26 Both John and Kevin have been active on the Community Network in the mobility space. What are you seeing/learning from the time you are spending there? John: my first experiences were implementing the Sybase platform, we were looking at RIM on NetWeaver Mobile. On SCN, I was able to draw on experiences of the RIM guys and apply them to the Sybase platform. Some SAP folks blogged on the forum as well on these topics. Kevin: Being active since 2008 on enterprise mobility, built an audience for mobility that has impacted my own business by creating conversation. Becoming a top contributor and then an SAP Mentor is the byproduct of getting active in the community and blogging regularly.

10:24 Some people think of blogging as a one way communication outlet but there are often interesting conversations that spring up on SCN blogs. What has been your experience with "blog conversations"? Kevin: this year at SAPPHIRENOW, SAP Mentors were given flipcams to interview people on the convention floor. In many cases, the feedback was "I've read your articles on SCN, let's do an interview." They already know you and your work. John: I had the exact same experience at SAPPHIRENOW. Being recognized as a Mentor and the input we have given to SCN as a precursor to becoming a Mentor has had an impact.

12:00 It's not always easy to get started blogging. Our listeners might be surprised to learn that most experienced bloggers on SCN had to be initially encouraged and brought out of our shells by someone. How did you get started? What advice would you have for those who are early in their blogging efforts or looking for some inspiration to get started? Kevin: I have written several hundred blogs. People think blogging is difficult - it doesn't have to be more than a handful of paragraphs. You're not writing Shakespeare.

Even a short blog about a talk with a customer and what their mobility needs are and what the ROI was is very useful content. Personal experiences from a day on the phone can be plenty. It doesn't take weeks to generate a blog, it's about sharing with the community the knowledge you've gained today from the conversations you've had. John: Bluefin has a knowledge-management centric culture. Quite early on, I found that writing about my experiences with difficult situations and technical problems was very cathartic. You write about your customer problems and how you resolved them and it's documented forever. Then I came to realize that this same kind of documentation could be relevant to a broader audience. Often you can repurpose existing information. Once you've written the first blog, you're over the hurdle and it's easy.

16:34 Lightning round: give one big mobility trend for the year. John: the rise in Android, 700 percent handset growth from year to year, is enormous. But is hasn't really jumped into the enterprise space yet, I'm watching that this year. Kevin: yesterday I talked to a research firm who had interviewed 100 SAP customers about the topics they were most interested in, and the fifth highest topic was mobility. Business to consumer mobile apps are a trend to watch as well. Companies are starting to ask, "What apps can I get into the hands of my customers so that I can serve them better?" That gap between enterprise and consumer apps is closing rapidly, and all the SAP enterprise mobility vendors are going to have to look into that.