Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

SAP Sales OnDemand Comes Alive in the Cloud and Mobile at SAPPHIRE NOW

Posted by Mark Smith on May 21, 2011 10:06:55 AM

At the SAPPHIRE NOW conference this week, SAP released the production version of the cloud-based Sales OnDemand software that it unveiled earlier in the year. There has been a lot of the esoteric commentary of SAP Sales OnDemand from those that exclusively cover the IT industry. Unfortunately the majority of them have never worked in sales or held a quota that prevents a provide a deeper perspective on the relevance to the sales organization and what it can provide to existing SAP customers or those evaluating it for the first time. I covered some critical perspectives in my research agenda on sales as a background to my analysis of this new offering.

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Topics: Sales, SAP, Social Media, Sales Compensation, Sales Force Automation, Sales Forecasting, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Location Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), SFA

The New Mobile SAP Evolves Stronger from Sybase Investment

Posted by Mark Smith on May 20, 2011 11:47:29 PM

At the SAPPHIRE NOW annual conference, (Twitter: #SAPPHIRENOW) the advantage of the mobile technology SAP gained through its acquisition of Sybase is becoming evident. In a blog before the conference I touched on the importance of mobility to the company’s future. From walking around, assessing keynotes and sessions and talking to companies using SAP, it seems that the big bet that SAP made on mobility is paying off.

One year ago at this annual conference SAP announced that it would enlist the people and technology of Sybase in executing its larger application strategy. Collaboration with the Sybase additions in areas from analytics and databases to mobility is now proving integral to SAP’s efforts. The company insists that mobile devices are the new desktop for the enterprise, and the rapid adoption curve is justifying that statement.

The acquisition of Sybase allows SAP to add sophistication to its infrastructure and enhance tool and application development for mobile platforms. Sybase has a heritage of mobilizing information for access and commerce, which makes for a sound partnership to advance SAP’s business applications. Sybase has been positioning itself as platform-neutral in providing support for the range of mobile technology stacks from Apple, Google and Android, RIM and HP and Microsoft. As well it has been the major and in many cases sole provider of the underlying routing software of SMS and data across wireless networks.

SAP itself made its initial bets on Apple, with the iPad as the primary platform for its applications, and RIM, for smartphones for internal employees – though the success of Android appears to have SAP and Sybase busy examining growing its support and diversity of mobile technologies. Our benchmark research into current mobile technologies and demand shows a base of legacy Microsoft and RIM customers, but many organizations are reevaluating their mobile technologies. SAP still has not employed the Sybase technology to secure iPhones for use internally, but that could happen. SAP did support its long-time partner RIM by demonstrating its applications on the new RIM Playbook. Though the Playbook addresses Apple’s lack of Adobe Flash support and multitasking and tethering limitation, it is still working through some challenges.

I asked SAP and Sybase executives about the absence of HP and Microsoft mobile technologies at the conference. Their obviously rehearsed response emphasized the rapid adoption of Apple in business, the continuing use of RIM within specific industries and SAP’s plans for supporting the Android ecosystem. My checks among the large and midsize application and tool software companies finds the same indifference to HP and Microsoft, due to their lack of penetration into business and challenges associated with their shifting technology stack. Microsoft, which has begun to stabilize Windows Mobile after some turbulent years in technology transition, is now busy with its strategic partnership with Nokia. While that effort is rumored to be leading to an acquisition, it is clearly a distraction from the focus on the business and enterprise ecosystem that Microsoft must apply to recover the market share it has lost in that area.

In new software news, SAP introduced a collection of mobile applications that supports field service workers with alerts, orders, visit mapping and post-visit debriefing. For the retail industry the company provides support for field sales activities from visits, surveys and account management to product and category reviews. The plant and maintenance operations team can have mobile access to work orders, location, inventory and partner and customer information.

While SAP was demonstrating these industry-specific applications, it was also talking about mobile applications for employee self-service for leave requests and time capture and for managers or HR staff doing employee lookups and approvals. Mobile capabilities for procurement activities are also in the works, along with manager and employee operations in travel and expenses, and field sales functions for accessing SAP CRM for product availability, notification, order status and customer lookup.

All things said, Apple remains the platform SAP has progressed farthest with. SAP has been steadily providing iPhone access to its applications, such as SAP Business ByDesign. It has extended its cloud-based platform to support SAP Sales OnDemand on the iPhone and iPad. In the Apple application store you can also find SAP Commissions Check, a simple way to help sales folks check their progress towards quota and commission, along with collaborative technology called SAP StreamWork.

The SAP BusinessObjects Mobile tool works with RIM BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile. For native support for SAP Business Intelligence for Apple iPhone or iPad you can use the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and work with SAP on configuring it.

SAP also announced version 2.0 of its Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP), which is a Java-based application development platform for building mobile applications that can be deployed to diverse mobile platforms. The software hooks to SAP connectors and single-sign-on services and supports encrypted HTML5 Web storage and transport. This version adds a hybrid Web container that programmers develop to and utilizes HTML5, JavaScript and CSS, and it has hooks to native mobile operating system specifics in its SDK and user interface framework. The SDK and native support for Apple iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile will be released first, with Android support coming later.

Mobile applications will introduce new challenges with application and information lifecycle management within SUP. Sybase executives did not reveal much substance on how they are going to support mobility from within SUP, but support for mobile platforms will become more important as the volume of development increases. Version 2.1 of SUP is due later this summer and will be critical for deeper integration between SUP and the SAP NetWeaver platform, and for the development of mobile applications across analytics and BI, as well as the broader portfolio of industry and lines of business. Sybase and SAP are betting they can simplify mobile application development with a common platform while leveraging the native experience of the mobile technology provider. This development strategy is good for simplifying product development and for IT, but it’s not clear yet how it will come to fruition.

Organizations that want to develop mobile applications will have to use SUP as the preferred platform and will need trained IT resources who understand Java SDK development. Beyond traditional application development is the need to provide line-of-business and industry-specific applications that offer a range of information from content and data to prebuilt analytics. The current approach with SUP is very technically focused and not focused on empowering business to assemble and publish information into applications for mobile devices. For SAP the current effort seems to be on providing tools that partners can use to develop mobile applications. This means that potential SAP customers may need to look elsewhere for assembling information or deploying analytic applications. Many organizations have been looking at alternatives from MicroStrategy, which has released a mobile platform that my colleague David Menninger covered, and provides a BI application assembly environment. Another alternative is the new MeLLmo Roambi Flow technology I just assessed, which can assemble and publish information or analytics in a digital magazine or newspaper format.

Overall, the outlook for the combined company is optimistic. Under SAP, Sybase gains significant industry and business expertise in applications, which was one of its largest challenges. SAP has committed significant resources to work with Sybase to address this new market demand. Sybase is also helping bring commerce to bear in mobile applications with its Sybase365 offering, which adds secure and scalable mobile commerce services into the realm of mobile application development.

Mobile interfacing to SAP applications was everywhere at the conference, with dozens of customers and partners demonstrating mobile applications. Mobility is a smart place for SAP to invest and a way to differentiate its application portfolio from those of competitors such as Oracle and Infor.

SAP was clearly looking for assistance from its partner ecosystem to further its mobile strategy and help organizations adapt to a potentially complex environment of mobile technologies. Dozens of partners were at SAPPHIRE NOW. In one major move SAP announced a partnership with Accenture to further its global presence with consultants and support of enterprise deployments.

We at Ventana Research are already working on benchmark research on the competency of organizations to advance into mobile business and meet the challenges of transitioning people and processes to change how they work. SAP has made a significant commitment to mobility and is ahead of most of its peers as it brings to market a new portfolio of mobile-based applications. Now it will need to ensure it does not make mobile application development too complicated for developers or too complex to leverage the native experience of the mobile technologies. If the applications are too generic in their experience or take too long to develop they could fail to appeal to individuals and the workforce who are adopting Apple and Android-based smart phones and tablets. SAP has made significant progress over the last year, and I expect the company to make even more progress over the next year.


Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

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Topics: SAP, Sustainability, Google, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Smart Phones, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, CIO, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sybase. Mobile Industry, Tablets, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Digital Technology

Roambi Innovates Mobile Industry with Simpler Information and Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 20, 2011 11:35:00 PM

To maintain a productive workforce, businesses need to be able to put information in front of users at every level, from executives to front-line managers. Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets can provide analytics and business intelligence (BI), but so far this market niche has been dominated by publishing dashboards and reports that conform to the limits of mobile platforms. Analytics and BI software developers usually opt to publish charts and tables to Web pages on a smartphone or tablet. However, the usability of mobile-based Web browsers leaves a lot to be desired, which is particularly unfortunate in light of our recent benchmark research in business analytics, which found that usability was the number one consideration in 57 percent of organizations, while 89 percent said mobile applications need to be simpler to understand and use. A company called MeLLmo appears poised to capitalize on the demand for accessible mobile BI information.

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Topics: SAP, Google, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Smart Phones, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, CIO, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Sybase. Mobile Industry, Tablets, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Digital Technology

SAP’s New Management and Products Faces the Future at SAPPHIRE NOW

Posted by Mark Smith on May 13, 2011 11:13:48 AM

It is no easy task to change the culture of a global technology company, especially one that has a very demanding customer base with high expectations for advancing its widespread product lines. This is the challenge that SAP faces as it transitions from a company of three-letter-acronym collections of applications including CRM, SCM and ERP to one that focuses on specific business processes and needs. (My colleague recently discussed the problems in forklift migrations of ERP.)  This transition is necessitated by the shift of purchasing power and influence for applications back to business after over a decade of IT control. This alone might not seem like a drastic change, but reframing its entire dialogue and sales approach is not simple for a company the size of SAP. It must continue to grow through new applications and substantive upgrades of existing ones and cannot rely just on maintenance fees from the installed base. Over the last several months we’ve kept an eye on SAP as it builds up of its annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference, investigating changes in products and management. I’d like to share some of our firm’s analysis with those of you who have invested with or are looking to invest in SAP.

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Topics: SAP, Social Media, Sustainability, Other, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Technology, CIO, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Technology, Location Intelligence, Operational Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, COO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

SAP Retrofits Business Intelligence and Information Management to meet IT and Business Needs

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 25, 2011 12:43:48 AM

SAP has reached a critical milestone in launching version 4 of its business intelligence (BI) and enterprise information management (EIM) product suite from its SAP BusinessObjects portfolio. These offerings, currently in final beta testing, will be released as a collection of software products by midyear.

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Topics: SAP, Social Media, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Business Technology, CIO, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Information Technology, Operational Intelligence, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

SAP Energizes CRM with Analytics and Interactions, But Will It Work?

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 14, 2010 11:28:36 AM

At the SAP Global Influencer Summit (Twitter #SAPSummit) that I just assessed the company addressed, among many other things, its SAP CRM vision and recent advances. SAP has shifted its focus from standard customer relationship management (CRM) to the customer lines of business where professionals increasingly see that the enterprise customer experience should span channels and processes in marketing, sales and customer service. SAP now is focusing on specializing its applications for a customer-focused set of business processes, which can be differentiated in its vertical industry solutions more than its horizontal CRM applications. This industry approach makes sense for SAP, which has not been able to tap into the new energy and applications in marketing, sales and service but is aware of multichannel customer requirements. Let’s start by looking about what SAP is focusing on in the customer lines of business.

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Topics: SAP, Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, CIO, Enterprise Software, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM

SAP Elevates Technology Strategy for Enterprise Software and Solutions

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 13, 2010 4:46:29 PM

At this year’s Influencer Summit (Twitter: #SAPSummit) SAP’s executive leadership team summarized the company’s progress in 2010 and described its plans for the coming year in a range of technologies. The event led off with co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe discussing by video from Germany the business and technology areas in which SAP expects growth in 2011. Jim focused SAP’s efforts in on-premises and on-demand delivery, mobility and in-memory computing, which are important to a new generation of products the company is bringing to market. He asserted that SAP does not need to acquire a lot more technology to innovate and grow its portfolio. While I thought the apologetic attitude about being late in updating SAP’s on-premise applications was unnecessary, the emphasis on its growth and technology was well communicated.

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Topics: SAP, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, CIO, Collaboration, Enterprise Software

SAP Unveils Next Generation of Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:04:20 PM

On Tuesday in Silicon Valley, SAP introduced its latest business software: business analytics applications for specific vertical industries. The event was kicked off by SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott, who demonstrated the simplicity of the applications on an Apple iPad, which has become the demonstration system of choice for SAP as well as a tool it provides for its sales force. Bill and EVP of Business Analytics Keith Costello provided a glimpse of the applications’ capabilities as part of the product launch event. This announcement was expected as SAP has been known to be working on advancing its analytics through its own development efforts and from applications acquired with Business Objects. The announcement is significant for SAP’s ability to compete with IBM and Oracle in vertical industries but has not arrived to their point of also offering independent and cross industry analytics across all line of business areas like sales, operations, marketing, contact center and customer management . Bringing new applications to the analytics market enables SAP to utilize its business intelligence (BI) platform and tools with analytics models and metrics brought together in a package for an industry. Specifically SAP announced 10 applications for vertical industries including consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, banking, healthcare, the public sector and telecommunications and plans to release new ones on a quarterly basis along with updates.

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Topics: SAP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Information Management, Business Performance Management (BPM), Information Management (IM)