IBM And SAP: What’s Driving Mobility And Development


Mobility is one of the dominant forces impacting both our professional and personal lives, and as BlackBerry, once the undisputed king of corporate mobility, continues its slide into obscurity and Microsoft, once the undisputed king of corporate desktops, continues its slide into mobile obscurity, new studies reinforce just how significant this force really is. A survey of office workers reveals that almost all – 95.6% – of them are putting company data at risk over free public Wi-Fi. Another study illustrates the growing C-level battle as CIOs and CMOs duke it out for overall control of IT, and particularly mobile Web.

“More than ever, companies are facing a hugely dangerous mismatch between their existing IT architectures and services and the business need for innovation in the modern digital economy,” stated Yankee Group Principal Analyst Chris Marsh in a recent brief. “Under pressure to re-envision their processes as mobile and cloud enabled, the majority of companies are being held back by legacy services, infrastructure, protocols, standards and thinking.”

The bottom line is that mobility is changing everything, and IT Trends & Analysis asked IBM and SAP, two of the biggest players in IT, for their perspectives on some of the major trends driving application development for this segment, and what they are doing about it. Here are excerpts from their responses (IBM’s Michael Gilfix, Director, Enterprise Mobile,and Matt Berry, Director of Marketing, MobileFirst, and SAP’s William Clark, Global VP of Mobile Strategy Global Solutions).

What is driving the mobile application development market?

IBM Gilfix: Mobile is having a significant impact on the way companies run – changing the way they interact with employees, their clients and also prospective customers. Mobile has gone from a “nice to have” to an absolute must in order to remain competitive. Consistent multi-channel experience for the consumer is also critical to be competitive today. According to a recent Google study, 52% of mobile users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company.

IBM believes that 2013 has been the year where corporations recognized the imperative to leverage mobile application platforms for building and deploying apps – including business-to-business, business-to-consumer and business-to-employee.

SAP Clark: Mobile application development demand surpassed traditional application demand a couple of years ago, when the number of internet connected smartphones and tablets surpassed the number of PCs worldwide. And the “Consumerization of IT” has added even more demand for mobile applications over the past 3-5 years, as BYOD strategies in enterprises typically go hand in hand or slightly precede BYOA (applications).

Today your employees are also consumers and they bring “mobile” expectations and proficiency to the workplace. This, coupled with the imperative to reach consumers with mobile apps, drives demand for businesses in all industries to rapidly build out a broader set of user-friendly mobile applications.

SAP sees that CIOs and IT departments are under increasing pressure to implement a future-proof mobile strategy because it’s no longer possible to implement the fork-lift application development strategies of the PC era. And mobile AD is tricky because of the variances in the user interface technology, devices, browsers, and network capabilities. As developers respond to this mobile transformation, they evolve from a tactical mindset around mobile app development to one that appreciates the need for an end-to-end mobile AD workflow that can effectively mobilize each aspect of business.

Where does the mobile application development market go from here?

IBM Berry: Just consider some of these statistics: 67% of mobile users are more likely to buy a site’s product or services when they visit a mobile-friendly site; 40% of consumers will turn to a competitor’s site if yours is not mobile-optimized; and 12% of executives use a mobile device as their primary platform today, but that number is expected to reach more than 50% in the next 3 years.

Mobile is becoming the primary way that employees engage with their company and consumers check out products and services, and it’s certainly the way people are communicating today. That’s why we talk about a mobile-first approach – it’s the first point of contact between people, organizations, and employees.

The market for mobility services is still evolving and is only in its early stages. Mobile is quickly becoming the primary means of digital interaction with a business. We’re starting to see a lot of activity around wearable mobile devices. This is one of several “futuristic” type trends we’re quickly seeing become a reality. Whether it’s Google Glass or a device to track a person’s activity and diet, we’re seeing companies jump on this wave and apply it to business opportunities. Just imagine a factory worker being able to stack boxes while managing inventory – hands free – and the productivity gains an application like that could provide.

SAP Clark: Looking ahead, we see the market forcing tighter integration between mobile enterprise systems, portals and mobile app development, which SAP will address by leveraging the scalability and elasticity of the cloud. SAP also sees increasing demand for extending mobile app strategies into user experience strategies, and an ever-increasing demand for agility and speed – both in how fast developers and put new mobile apps together and in the responsiveness that users will expect from those apps.

What are you doing to differentiate itself from other vendors in this segment?

IBM Berry: IBM is working on projects in practically every corner of the globe, and every industry, with companies both large and small. Mobile is allowing them to fundamentally change their business models, and how they engage with their clients and partners.

Based on nearly 1,000 customer engagements with companies including Sprint, Colmobil and ING Direct Canada, Ford, more than 10 mobile-related acquisitions in the last four years, a team of thousands of mobile experts and 270 patents in wireless innovations, IBM MobileFirst provides the key elements of an application and data platform with the management, security and analytics capabilities needed for the enterprise.

While we see new niche providers pop on a regular basis, we don’t see any competitor with the full range of capabilities and expertise that IBM is able to offer. IBM is a trusted partner to our clients and partners, and we look at each engagement as an opportunity to learn, innovate and revolutionize the industry they’re in.

SAP Clark: SAP has a comprehensive portfolio of mobile solutions, encompassing an end to end mobile platform for B2B/B2C mobile app development, enterprise mobility management, an enterprise store which contains well over 200 mobile apps, and mobile commerce and messaging services. SAP is the only vendor that can offer businesses such a complete mobile portfolio in 25 industries and 11 lines of business.

Our acquisitions of two vendors who brought to SAP leading platforms in mobile app development (Sybase and Syclo) over the past three years have given us unique capabilities that are unmatched in the market. With Sybase, we not only acquired outstanding mobile synchronization technology, but we also added the world’s largest mobile messaging infrastructure business (now SAP Mobile Messaging), as well as a leading mobile device management offering (Afaria). We provide unique integration points to both of the offerings that give our developers advanced, optimized ways of delivering mobile application experiences.

With Syclo we acquired a vendor Gartner had ranked as the strongest in execution in the entire market in 2012 – whose strengths are in a meta-data driven approach that allows mobile application designers incredible productivity to create complex mobile applications using templates and parameterization to new levels.

Last thoughts?

IBM Gilfix: IBM MobileFirst represents the industry’s most comprehensive portfolio of services and software to help clients benefit from the emerging mobile economy. Using IBM MobileFirst solutions, businesses can streamline everything from the management of employee mobile devices, to the creation of applications that transform the way they interact and transact with their customers.

IBM Berry: When you look at IBM’s broad set of mobile products and services, combined with our leadership and expertise in cloud, social, and big data, we’re able to provide a powerful set of capabilities to our clients. But we’re also seeing that every industry is using mobile in unique ways, and that’s another element of IBM’s mobile leadership. We’re able to apply decades of industry expertise to today’s mobile environments. That combination is proving to be powerful in industries like retail, healthcare, travel and transportation, and banking, just to name a few.

SAP Clark: SAP is the pioneer of this space through unmatched mobile innovation and building out a strong mobile ecosystem comprised partnerships with companies like Mocana, Tangoe, Appcelerator, Adobe (PhoneGap), Accenture, and Capgemini. This two-pronged approach firmly positions as the leader in the industry. In fact, SAP is the only vendor positioned in the leaders quadrants in both of Gartner’s Magic Quadrants for Mobile Application Development (MADP) Platforms (for SAP Mobile Platform or SMP) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) for SAP Afaria. That type of recognition, along with our commitment to excellence, is a clear indication of the value of our solutions for our customers.



Author: Steve Wexler

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