SAP: We will push all useful data to mobile devices

Businesses moving away fast from on-premise dominance

SAP has vowed to make all data from its systems that would be useful on the move available on mobile devices.

As the company awaits European regulatory approval for its proposed $5.8 billion acquisition of mobile software firm Sybase, Sanjay Poonen, executive VP at SAP, told Computerworld UK that "if customers need us to push real time data of any sort to their mobile devices, we'll do it".

"This is the main reason for the Sybase acquisition," he said. "Many customers want data on the move before they go into a meeting, or when they're out of the office but have to make an important business decision."

While on-premise software is likely to predominate for at least the next three to five years, according to research from SAP, it was quickly waning to leave many users accessing software in the cloud or on portable devices.

Poonen, speaking at yesterday's stage of the SAP World Tour in Birmingham, said the mixture of "financial and regulatory pressures, new technology and the new generation of workers" was pushing businesses to make radical IT changes -- and that suppliers needed to support this.

One of the biggest changes for suppliers in terms of data, he said, was making it available in more places and through different delivery models.

SAP's strategy was to make software "on demand, on premise and on device", he said, adding that it needed to be in real time. "Users want to plan smarter, run faster and perform better."

The main mobile offerings currently available from SAP are customer relationship management and business intelligence. But Poonen said there was plenty of potential for more modules, including human capital management and supply chain data, to be given to users on the road.

An SAP study of 250 chief information officers in the UK found that currently 71 percent of software deployments are on premise, with 17 percent on demand and 13 percent on mobile devices. This was out of line with what businesses saw as "ideal": forty-seven percent on premise, 31 percent on demand and 22 percent on mobile.

Businesses expect to step closer to these ideals over a three to five year period. By 2015, they expect the on premise, on demand and on device split to be 51, 28 and 21 percent respectively.

The move to cloud models was being driven primarily by cost and quick scalability concerns, Poonen said, though he acknowledged that security concerns are still holding back many businesses.

Mobile adoption was being driven by employees demanding more information on the move, as well as younger generations who may be more accustomed to tablet computing and smart phones than traditional laptops.

SAP has approximately 100,000 business customers globally, split between enterprise resource planning and business intelligence clients. Large customers in the UK include BP, Shell, Pfizer, Burberry, Premier Foods and the BBC, and with its Business ByDesign offering it also sells software as a service to small and medium sized businesses.

Poonen said SAP recognised that many customers hold the "bulk of data" that feeds into its ERP or business intelligence in non-SAP systems. But he insisted SAP offered the tools to extract that information effectively.

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