SAP and ASUG Sapphire Now 2011 - 3 Observations on Mobility Strategies

05/19/2011

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SAP and ASUG Sapphire Now 2011 - 3 Observations on Mobility Strategies

I spent the last 3 days in Orlando attending SAP and ASUG’s annual conference, Sapphire Now.  With over 100,000 people attending in person or via the web, this marked the largest Sapphire event ever.  While there were a ton of topics covered throughout the conference, for this blog I’m going to focus on mobility.  With the acquisition of Sybase, in the last 12 months SAP has put a great deal of focus on providing mobile applications to complement their long-standing enterprise solutions.  With all of the energy and discussions around mobility, I wanted to share 3 observations concerning mobility that are relevant to companies considering how mobile applications can enhance their efforts to generate more business and improve their customer relationships.   

1. Be mindful that the iPad makes everything look good.  Really, tablets in general, make everything look good.  In the past 3 days, I met more mobile application developers providing tools for SAP ERP and CRM than I ever knew existed.  I can’t tell you how effective each developer’s tools will be in an actual business case, but I can tell you they will at least all look good.  Without calling out any names, I was reminded of the old addage, "everything that glitters ain't gold."  It is far too easy to get impressed by the clean layouts and screen shots of these demos placed on a tablet.  The real question is, how will your sales, marketing and service reps like the tool?  Will it create more work for them?  Will it be intuitive?  Will it make their daily tasks easier?  To any company looking at adopting a mobile component for their CRM or ERP solutions, it is first important to have a firm grasp on your objectives and existing processes.  At the end of the day, your objective should be to choose a mobile application that will make your users more productive and ease their daily tasks.  Remember, apps that look the nicest in a controlled demo do not always correlate to the best solutions for your specific processes or daily activities.   

2.  Unless there is a strong business case for it, don’t make your mobile solutions device specific.  From the various micro-forums and customer stories at Sapphire, one of the things that rang true was that companies struggle to get users who are well informed and have strong preferences about their mobile device to adopt a device specific solution.  10 years ago, the only individuals who needed a smart phone were business users.  At that time, not a whole lot of content existed that made these phones interesting or relevant to the general population.  Fast forward 10 years and, today, smart phones are the primary vehicles for social interaction, consumption (both products and information), and every day activities.  The iPhone became massively popular in business because of its massive commercial adoption.  The Blackberry is slowly becoming less relevant in business because of its decreasing ability to compete as a tool for social interaction and information consumption.  Users now define what device they want to use because they use these devices in their everyday life.  This is a problem that didn’t exist in the past where users typically didn’t have a real preference in what smart phone they had.  Now, you have #teamandroid, #teamiphone, and #teamblackberry as significant groups constantly pledging their allegiance on Twitter.  Good luck trying to force a die hard member of #teamiphone to use or even carry around a Windows 7 mobile device that doesn’t have the latest “Chipotle” app.  Added to this fact is with the speed of development of new mobile devices, devices from as little as a year ago are already unserviceable and unavailable.  As a result, unless your business users need specific devices for very specific functionality, it is important to consider not making your mobile solutions device specific.  In the long run, you will save more money, time and increase efficiency by ensuring that the mobile solution you do choose works across multiple mobile operating systems rather than being OS specific.  

3.  Mobility makes Social CRM relevant to everyone.  In one of the small roundtable discussions I participated in at a table full of sales and marketing execs from various B2B and B2C companies, a question was posed about the relevance of social networking to their CRM strategies.  Interestingly, very few individuals at the table saw the potential for these social networking tools to help increase their brand presence, improve their marketing efforts, solidify their customer relationships/loyalty, etc.  So what does this have to do with mobility?  Mobility is what makes social CRM relevant to every business because it provides a space where your customer is always available and plugged in.  Between Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, it is probably a fair estimate to say that a majority of people you know in your business and social life access at least one of these sites, EVERYDAY.  You now have a place where you know your prospects and customers will be all the time.  How do you leverage that?  Well, that answer is different for every business but it is more important than ever to realize social networking sites provide a platform for you to interact with your prospects and customers 24/7.  You don’t have to wait for them to go to your site, visit your site, read your blog, open your email, answer your call.  Granted, the nature of interaction on social networking sites is different than your traditional sales or customer service interactions, but, for the first time, your marketing, sales, and service teams have a very identifiable location to find your customers. 

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