Since the Millennium, some 52% of the Fortune 500 companies have ceased trading, with a failure to keep up with new technology being given as a contributory reason. They were out-innovated by their competitors and could not simplify their collaborative interaction.
Today, companies have to give their customers and employees 24/7 access to timely and relevant enterprise data – any time, anywhere – i.e. On Demand and On Mobile. This hi-availability information promises increased productivity and a simplicity in the user interaction – both having a positive impact on profitability.
The decision to move to a mobile platform is not made lightly, but once it has been taken, the strategy written and the technology selected, the implementation begins.
For those contemplating this journey, the following very different examples of how Gauri has implemented mobile solutions for our SAP customers might give you some food for thought:
1. Bespoke SAP CRM Service application on third party mobile devices:
This customer with a significant field service team needed to upgrade old technology PDAs with customised applications to new mobile devices that would integrate the call centre with the scheduler and installation information. The Service Engineers could get linked to their job details, allowing real-time access to resource and location information.
New layers of integration were introduced, based upon File Transfer Protocol (FTP). This is an extremely customisable and easy-to-develop approach, with relatively lower costs associated with infrastructure and licence. An offline mode is also fully supported.
There are some notes of caution, worth considering, with this approach. A comprehensive bespoke error handling and reprocessing framework was developed, consequently requiring thorough testing. The correct sequencing of the numerous files across the different interfaces was a challenge, and the bespoke applications were device dependant, so not useable on any other devices.
This solution, however, meant that the customer could continue to use existing investment in hardware. Training costs for mobile use by the field service engineers were also kept to a minimum because of the decision to adapt existing user interfaces and screen flows as far as possible. Thus, adoption of the new solution was not a big issue.
2. Implementation of the standard SAP CRM sales app on iPad
We helped another customer who required an iPad-based mobile solution for their sales teams enabling them to use their device for all of their day-to-day activities. The SAP Sybase mobility solution (now referred to as the SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) framework, following the inclusion of Syclo) was selected. This was before the availability of Cloud solutions (Cloud for Customer), so the standard SAP Sales mobile app was linked to the On-premise SAP CRM system, giving the customer their required enablement of accounts, tasks and activities on the iPad, with real-time integration.
This turned out to be a highly reliable solution, with standard SAP customisation to select the type of data to be synchronised with the mobile device. The rules for each individual device were easy to set up, and error handling and queuing were out-of-the-box functionality. Very large data volumes were easily handled, offline mode was fully supported, and it only took 5 weeks for the base implementation. The CRM Sales app was available for Android devices as well as iOS devices.
This solution was scalable for large teams, and the added use of SAP Afaria for device management made this approach well worth considering.
A minor downside, however, to this approach for mobility is that the look and feel of the standard SAP Sybase CRM sales iOS app cannot be changed significantly. There are options to develop bespoke mobile apps and integrate with the SMP platform, but this is not an inexpensive consideration. There are additional licence and infrastructure costs as well that need to be factored in.
3. Developing bespoke Fiori mobile apps
A recent variation on the mobile theme was our experience in building bespoke Fiori mobile apps for the SAP Grantor Management solution
SAP’s introduction of Fiori has greatly enhanced the whole SAP user experience, by making it easy to take standard ERP and CRM functionality onto mobile devices, with a simplified user interface.
Gauri developed a proof of concept based on Fiori bespoke apps for Grantor Management. It was very easy to develop and execute Fiori using Web IDE and Eclipse, and even easier to use the SAP Fiori client on an iPhone to run the application.
This bespoke Fiori-based mobile app approach proved to be a highly reliable solution, that is portable across all devices i.e. laptops, desktops, all mobile devices and tablets. The UI was extremely rich, development time was minimal because of using standard SAP Fiori templates, and Fiori was without additional licence cost.
On the downside, there is a bit of a learning curve with HTML5 and SAP Fiori, and potential additional licencing cost if the offline mode is required or the SAP NetWeaver Gateway is deployed on a separate server.
The above examples should serve to illustrate that one size truly does not fit all. There are different approaches to ‘going mobile’ with SAP. Last year, SAP introduced SAP Mobile services on a SAP HANA platform. This is a game changer – it is a cloud offering, requires no hardware procurement and promises reduced implementation time. Yet another option for consideration.
Gauri has helped customers with varying business requirements, existing infrastructure and cost constraints. Our experience allows us to advise our customers of the possibilities.
You’ve got SAP, you want to go mobile – let Gauri help you to discover what the best way is for you.