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Rupert Fallows - KPIT Cummins

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Going Mobile and Your SAP Investment, Advantages - Risks

21 January 2013  |  2925 views  |  0

If I was a Financial Director of a medium to large sized business there should be some alarm bells going off right now concerning moving to mobile devices. Especially if you have invested a huge sum of money on SAP, looking beyond FI/CO modules, any mobile initiative by the company could make large parts of the SAP system redundant for hours on end to users if you are not careful as users have the wrong technology in their hands.  So let's look at the concerns; 

  1. The Advantages & Risks of Going Mobile in relationship to Your SAP Investment - Yes of course there are benefits of being able to access SAP where ever I go especially if I am in sales, or if I need to log holiday vacation time... but Apps are Apps. They are little chunks of productivity and are not normally a whole process but a section of it. Some Apps are even like having a read only version of your software!  Remember that App facetime depends on your screen size, Tablets benefit here big time in the mobile world but the risk is at what cost to my core SAP system.
  2. The End User Trend towards Mobility(Smartphones/Tablets) - Need to Go Mobile? - Business usually always follow the Consumer Marketplace on user activity habits and consumers have put a big thumbs up for Apps. As a Business you are not going to look very progressive if you say no to Apps but with changing staff behaviours and even out of office hours response times increasing, there needs to be a grown up, thought out strategy which is explained to all and managed effectively. For example even changes made to an employee's employment contract may be needed. Basically don't just give Users a device and say get on with it. You will end up with their Kids playing Angry Birds on an expensive Ipad if you are not careful.
  3. IT Demands created by Customer Focused Technologies, Buying Habits are Changing - FDs' Perspective. What we do know is that in the US in 2011 there was a 40% growth in Inside Sales and Inside Account Managers and a 20% drop in recruiting on perceived expensive Outside Sales staff. That is not just down to cost cutting in a downturn but as a result of the sales cycle getting shorter for Outside Sales staff. Customers now research heavily online products or solutions (even chatting on online forums or social media) before they engage with a Rep. As a FD you have to understand that online technology is having an impact on sales people but on the flip side there is a need to track who is looking at your website... as it is even more important to engage earlier with customers as reduced selling time means less time to influence the right people. Expect your Marketing IT budget to increase heavily in 2013.
  4. The Emergence of Apps and their Impact on SAP Usage within Your Business - Who is Impacted and How? SAP Apps will mean that there will be an increased use of the SAP system but on the downside there maybe be a perception that SAP is somehow rather basic in functionality to the uneducated. The stories of high maintenance/deployment costs will have to diminish if you are installing SAP Apps. So if you go mobile go quick and make sure that whoever is doing your SAP App deployment really knows what they are doing. Sometimes you will need a customized company SAP system App. Adding in prototyping and testing will increase the cost of deployment but it may add well to the User numbers because mobile is a sharing technology with word of mouth playing heavily with end users especially if it is a cool, own company App.  
  5. How do I Measure a Return on Investment on these New Technologies - You can't manage what you can't measure - you must measure ROI on these Apps and monitor daily User numbers.  A report from a leading SAP consulting company of 1,500 SAP Systems found that 50% of SAP native functionality is not used. Apps are a great way of increasing core functionality.  However creating your own company App will have to be costed out by not only the user numbers but on the maintenance/ongoing development costs of that App. Try to go for Apps from SAP Supplier companies where they are selling a solution for a vertical market, then you can pick up proven core business functionality as well as the supplier developing up the core product. Remember customising web frontends are not as difficult of a challenge as making sure that the product is robust and talking effectively with your SAP backend.  
  6. In the Rush for Technology don't forget Security and Compliance -We all know that Smartphones are easily lost, just make sure that you factor that in before you allow access to your general ledger via the phone! SAP with their Sybase technology can make this very secure. I heard recently of a IT company who went to see a customer of theirs who are in the defence industry and they started assessing their SAP system via an unsecure mobile phone and the customer found out. They were not best pleased as you can imagine. Remember compliance can be your own or even your customers/governing body's best practices. Smartphones and Tablets are mini computers so the same sensitivities that you would have for laptops may need to apply to phones.
  7. How to Protect Your SAP Investment - You need to keep your eye and ears open to any new mobile projects that your company is discussing. Understand that this could be a big shift for the better or worse for your SAP investment but there are costs and procedures that need to be considered. The more information you get earlier on concerning this subject the better. Especially before you get that knock on the door with someone saying they have a great idea to make the team more productive for longer hours! 
  8. What do You Perceive the Challenges that Come from Going Mobile and your SAP system? I would love to hear them.

 

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Rupert Fallows

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