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January 23, 2013

Embracing Mobile Solutions... Why Shy?

Mobile solution adoption by enterprises is on the rise, but not at a pace such new highly potent technology would normally see. There are evident factors driving this slow cautious trend. SAP has consolidated its position as a leader in the Mobile platform space. How has it done and what is it up to next? And, more importantly how will this move from SAP help itself and its ecosystem that partners like Infosys are part of, to offer greater confidence to enterprises in embracing Mobilization?

More than 700,000 active apps are hosted on Appstore at present. It is observed that business apps are among the fastest growing category. One research has found that enterprise apps have doubled during the one-year period till q1/2012, while another estimates that the world-wide enterprise apps market will hit almost $8b by 2015, with about 80% of the Fortune 500 enterprises embracing mobile solutions by 2012-13. While all this indeed point to a very positive and healthy outlook for the world of Mobile Solutions, this space is not spared of challenges - some of them very fundamental, at that.

Enterprises have now begun to tell consumer apps from employee apps from analytics apps and so on, and the need to appreciate the difference in the context of how the core business solution for each of those is implemented (backend). However, more often than not, many enterprises are still only dipping their toe slowly in the water of mobility, venturing only so far as simple workflow or approval apps. Several factors are in play. Here's some:
- Unclear technology options or complexity due to heterogeneous environments
- Absence of a body to conceptualize and develop mobile strategies for the business.
- Relatively low level of awareness of ROI on mobile solutions or to build a case for it.
- Unclear prioritization of investment between B2C, B2E (employees), B2B and so on.
- Lack of incentive to embrace change in the user community.

Addressing the technology challenge, SAP, through a series of strategic acquisition moves of Sybase and Syclo, over the last 2 years has nudged its way to the top of both Mobile App Platforms and in the market share for Mobile Enterprise Management at just over 16%.

While each of these acquired platforms individually addresses specific segments of the market (Sybase Unwired Platform for B2E & B2B, mCommerce for B2C, Syclo/Agentry for B2E & B2B) very strongly, the acquisition presented a view too complex for enterprises to quickly embrace and adopt them. During the last several months, however, in a move typical of this business software giant, SAP came up with what it called as Platform Unification Roadmap. The objective of this roadmap was several folds:
- Offer a super set of functionalities of those separate platforms
- Offer a clear upgrade path to the latest release
- Offer an integrated B2C, B2B, B2E platform capability
- Offer possibility to deploy apps on-premise or on-cloud

According to SAP, there will eventually be, at the end of this unification road, only one platform namely the SAP Mobile Platform or SMP, supported on top of the Sybase365 Messaging Infrastructure and also have integration possibilities with eco-system tools & SDK such as Sencha, Appcelerator and PhoneGap.


SAP SMP.pngTogether, this offers a truly integrated and effective platform for enterprises to address their multiple market/user segments at the same time. This also makes it more efficient for enterprises paving way for them to engage with end-to-end consulting partners, like Infosys, to avail a typical 3-in-a-box offering of mobile strategy consulting, solution architecting, and technology implementation, to alleviate some of those factors dithering a faster adoption of mobile solutions.

January 22, 2013

Upgrades: Marvel, Marketing Hype, Necessary Tension or Simply Avoidable

"All I wanna be .... Everything at once" Jingles the new promo for Windows 8.
Vendor makes you feel he is offering the world to you. Even before you realize, the product has occupied your mindshare.
The pace of technological advancement and changes is so rampant that everywhere we can see newer, better and upgraded products tempting you to avail the benefit. These may be consumer marketed products like IPod, IPhones, LED or Enterprise software like SAP, Oracle, Windows etc.

What's new for me as user? The reality check is required to evaluate that what is being offered is really useful or it is mere case of need being created by promos.

One may feel that product companies launch a newer version of product even before existing customer is content with premium they paid just because of being associated with prior version.

Not to forget, a product Company releases a new version & issue advisory to remove support for older version and support perishes sooner than you may want to plan for new version.

For them the idea is simple, innovate to stay afloat in market.

They use upgrade tool to strengthen the advantage they enjoy over with competition or to bridge their lag in market. It can be a case of market penetration by attracting customer using other products or case of retaining the existing business by providing them the improved option to stay on with a particular brand. In some cases, the upgrade may come in form of altogether different product as classically demonstrated with "SAP Business one".

"News of New Release"
Phew.... sleepless nights for CIOs
Should I upgrade or wait?
Do we have Budget or should I realign from existing budgets?
Question like Increased cost for licensing, cost for reskilling the people, hiring consultants to help them, management cost and fact that functionality is not yet proven in the market
Or simply
What's "new" in new version?
Well this is just the beginning....

While the Technical upgrades which involve features like remediation for security threats are considered as approved by default, the ones related to functionality improvement are more tempting.


For a consulting firm, the questions are bigger; with no/little prior experience of implementing current version, checking the compatibility of changes with existing landscapes is critical. 

Most clients have modified the standard solution to adapt to their requirements and made it customized. With every upgrade or release the product company provides, the new version of standard program can have direct impact on the customized solution which can go haywire in no time.

For consistent use the consulting firm needs to innovate to ensure that customized solution do not become ineffective just for sake of upgrade in standard functionalities and for that they must have a repository of changed object / processes and use levers like Knowledge management for smoother transition.

With so much of technological advancement in today's world, everyone wants a new and latest "happening" version with an intrinsic fear of being treated as obsolete by peers in no time.

While no one questions the need of innovation and takes that upgrades as part of today's life simply because general perception is we evolve with upgrades but there are set questions for everyone

For Innovators
Rather than focusing on features of innovation, think as what is the value add or improvement in Business process for customers?  Techniques like Reverse Brainstorming can be very effective.

Collaborate with customer, understand their needs and backward integrate in new product version to provide the value add rather than creating the new product and excepting business to adapt.They need to think from perspective of varied stakeholders for their innovation to be widely accepted.

For Users
Companies need to understand the Guiding Tradeoff to set the benchmark for ROI. They need to have a project register to document the expected benefit, risks and cost estimates and then use the 3E to evaluate the effectiveness, efficacy and efficiency of value add in business processes.

Gap analysis is recommended which can set benchmark for improvements derived from upgrade by comparing with changes promised at start, so that they can ask the right questions for the next upgrade which is just AROUND THE CORNER and they themselves take a decision whether it is Marvel or simply avoidable.

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