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SAP Promises a "Leading" Mobile Platform in 9 Months
Top executives from SAP and its recent Sybase acquisition deliver a corporate roadmap.
Posted Sep 13, 2010
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A championship ring is always nice, but Joe Namath could have become just another forgotten Super Bowl–winning quarterback. Sports fans, however, will always remember him because he guaranteed that his underdog Jets would defeat the powerhouse Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

In similar fashion, executives from SAP and its recent acquisition Sybase recently made public an equally gutsy "guarantee": that in nine months SAP will transmogrify Sybase's mobility expertise to deliver a leading mobile platform that is based on open standards, runs on all major mobile operating systems, and manages and supports all major device types. For SAP — which ousted its chief executive officer only seven months ago, repeatedly changed the delivery date of its Business ByDesign on-demand product, and had one of its cofounders urging customers to "Please trust SAP -- we have not forgotten you" — any failure to follow through on this guarantee risks further damaging a corporate reputation that many in the industry have deemed shaky.

The declaration was made during a colocated event in Boston and Frankfurt. SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann-Snabe (who took the reins in February), Sybase CEO John Chen, and SAP Executive Board Member Vishal Sikka united for the first time to deliver a companywide strategy. "We're determined to be more and more intimate with our customers and all the analysts that cover SAP," McDermott said in his opening remarks.

[Editors' Note: McDermott was recently named one of CRM magazine's Influential Leaders in the CRM Market Awards — see the August 2010 issue of CRM for more.]

During the event, the executives revealed four key initiatives:

  • the development of a leading mobile platform within the next nine months;
  • a solution portfolio for enterprise information management (EIM);
  • a complete and optimized business analytics infrastructure; and
  • the incorporation of SAP's in-memory computing technology across SAP and Sybase offerings for data management.

"We believe this is indeed a game-changing moment in the industry," Hagemann-Snabe said, "and we believe overall that...the way we use technology will be heavily impacted by mobile devices as well as in-memory computing.... We announced the acquisition [of Sybase] in May. We did a fast iteration. We closed the deal recently. We have had extremely fast response and progress on the product side."

Going forward, the executives said, SAP's products will fall into three main categories:

  • enterprise mobility;
  • business analytics; and
  • EIM.

By integrating the following components:

  • SAP NetWeaver Mobile,
  • SAP BusinessObjects Mobile, and
  • Sybase Unwired Platform, 

SAP intends to deliver a "single mobile development and deployment platform with integrated analytics," according to a company press release. "We will be able to give our partners and customers the opportunity to build their own experiences on mobile devices with very little effort," Hagemann-Snabe said at the event, "and, with that, significantly deliver innovation on mobile [devices], not just from SAP but from the entire [SAP] ecosystem."

Executives insist that the combined technologies will also allow SAP to offer a business analytics infrastructure. According to SAP, customers will be able to take advantage of complete solutions composed of the following:

  • business analytic applications;
  • reports, scorecards and dashboards;
  • data integration;
  • data quality;
  • transactional storage; and
  • data marts and data warehousing. 

"We will provide end-to-end business functionality from the discovery phase of data into the storage of data [and] into the consumption of data," Hagemann-Snabe said. "We believe we will become the leading provider of business analytics infrastructure as well as consumption on analytics."

In addition to data integration and data quality, SAP's EIM solution is intended to provide users with master data management, complex event processing, real-time replication, modeling, application development, and database capabilities.

"This is an impressive vision," says Michael Krigsman, CEO of consultancy Asuret. "SAP has a sophisticated understanding of mobile, including how it's used, the hardware and software back-end infrastructure required to deliver mobile, as well as the end-user experience that's needed, and the use cases. The question is: Does SAP have the ability to bring these innovations to market in a timely manner? SAP has described its vision, goals, and trajectory, but it has been much lighter describing the details of its plan. All eyes will be on SAP to see what they can accomplish."

Ray Wang, a partner at Altimeter Group, is confident SAP can deliver. "SAP's credibility is at stake," he says, "and the investors are watching eagerly." 

The views shared by Krigsman and Wang highlight one critical aspect of the Joe Namath anecdote: Namath's guarantee may have grabbed headlines in the days before the big game and intensified the media spotlight, but what made it memorable in the long run wasn't the guarantee itself — it's that Namath was eventually proved right. That part of the process is what lies ahead for SAP — and its customers.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" below. 

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