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Previously, on this blog series, I talked about what today’s mobile users expect from their corporate environment, and what we, at SAP’s internal IT, are doing to meet this. Now it’s time to look at the other side: What are the key factors an IT organization or the mobile-enabled company in general needs to think of to equip employees with mobile devices, tools, and business applications? What does a mobile strategy need to look like to boost productivity and to keep cost-drivers under control?

1st, Device (Management) Strategy

Shall it be a company iPhone, Blackberry, Windows or a device from one of the Android vendors? Or do you want to allow your employees to bring their own devices (BYOD)? The decision about what you want to offer to your staff will mainly come down to this question: What are you able to afford to ensure 100 percent legality, security and support, and how lean or complex should be your Mobile Device Management (MDM) setup? Pros and cons cannot be discussed without looking at the individual corporate context and would not fit into this post, but this formula is a no-brainer: Restricting the choice will reduce your costs and maximize the supervision you have -- while on the other hand offering freedom of choice will lead to higher costs, but most certainly motivate your workforce to use their devices more intensively. So, to avoid unnecessary costs, you need a clear strategy.

However, the MDM is certainly the one of the first decision which subsequently will also ensure the “basis security” of the device.

BYOD is one thinkable scenario to equip your staff. It may save you up-front expenditures to provide the hardware, but it’s far from being free – spendings for key requirements like legal compliance, device management and even communication can at least compete with company-issued devices. Let me know in the comments area if you like to get a separate more detailed blog on BYOD.

2nd, Application Management

The possibilities of additional security and control feature for specific Apps are especially important for BYOD scenarios. Additionally, there might be Apps with different specific security requirement (e.g. Apps that provide the most strictly confidential data to the Executive Board). In these cases, the topic Application Management needs to be elaborated in detail.

3rd, Demand & Portfolio Management

When starting the activities Mobile, it’s time to face the questions all entrepreneurs have to face: Which product are you going to develop? What are the demands, target groups and stakeholders? How to fund your development and how to weight demands and expectations? Like with most enterprises, aspects like budget, available resources, and product value vs. price require an efficient roadmap, feasibility investigation, and prioritization. In short: You need a plan.

At SAP, we chose a proactive demand and portfolio management and defined role sets such as IT Business Partner on the internal IT side to:

  • ensure a planning that integrates business (LoB) roadmap and IT execution
  • allocate IT build budget according to SAP and unit strategy
  • agree on a funding model and prepare IT program/project execution

You also need to decide about a clear expectation management as internal lines of business are often not aware of the complexity and challenge an IT organization needs to face. These include coping with a multitude of requests, the need to bring added value and improved usability to large target groups on the one hand, while often huge resources are bound with the support and technical enablement of very small target groups, like single managers and board members.

A clear overview on the Portfolio of Apps is essential to manage resources, but also the planning of the support (e.g. if there’s an iOS upgrade, you have to adapt the apps or also when you’ve to deploy the apps with a new provisioning/distribution profile of Apple).

4th, Distribution / Enterprise App Store

The larger the company and the number of devices, the stronger will be the demand for a distinct distribution channel – a direct way to your user to promote and provide apps and services. At SAP, we now ensured this “single source of truth” with one of our own products, the internal SAP Enterprise Store. And we also ensure a highly target-specific distribution by providing filters for certain user roles, region-specific offerings, and usage scenarios. This is also increasingly important the more apps you have in your portfolio. At SAP, we’ve now more than 70 apps live in productive usage and hence it wouldn’t be possible without a central store for our employees.

5th, Support / Operations

Last time, I spoke about how online documentation, social media, and direct user-developer feedback help us at SAP reduce support efforts for mobile apps. Besides that, a steady operations concept is required to ensure the ongoing management and support of an end-to-end, traceable mobile scenario with all its elements. At SAP, every internal app needs to come with such a detailed setup to enable a dedicated IT Run unit. Again, focusing on standards and a single-platform architecture reduces the support and operations costs associated with the IT landscape.

6th, Technology / Platform and Development Architecture

Another major factor that mainly affects your company’s efficiency is the choice of the most effective development platform. Preferred way would be to support only one development environment for building and deploying internal apps – a straight one-platform architecture. On the other hand, different business processes can lead to different approaches regarding the needed technology. Decisive and light-weight, workflow-driven scenarios plus a stronger orchestration are points for developing HTML5-based apps, whilst the need for on-device data, offline usage and device-specific functionality (such as taking pictures with the local camera, as done with Travel Receipt Capture) would be a pro for native app development. While capable architecture platforms allow a mixture of both front-end technologies, native and non-native applications, such a dual-track strategy is, of course, a question of the available budget and resources (skills). The technology framework will also be a key factor to simplify/standardize your procedures (e.g. support, security, etc.).

7th , Security

I will come back to a more detailed view on corporate security requirements in a later installment of this series, but as a top ranking key factor in enterprise mobility, I also need to list this here. The necessary degree of security heavily influences every decision regarding devices and architecture. I do not assume that you can’t achieve the same level of security with all major technologies, but it will certainly be harder if you do not focus. An effective security strategy needs to include a rock-solid device management, safe apps, content and a set-up for securely accessing different backend systems. In the end, the new “Security” is complemented with “Risk Management”, as the balance between usability and security will require risk assessments and acceptance.

8th, Governance

As you see all the different parts of the mobile strategy, it’s key to establish a governance around the mobile activities. Our experience shows that a clear end-to-end accountability and ownership accelerates the establishment of an Enterprise Mobility strategy and ensures the delivery of quick results.

This is a lot to think about, and surely also a new challenge for an IT organization, but after working now two years on SAP’s own mobile journey, I can tell you it’s absolutely exciting and a lot of fun.

Actually, Enterprise Mobility is a huge opportunity for an IT organization to turn the perception of IT around and show your customer(the LoB’s) how agile and innovative you are.

See you next time when we talk about internal mobile projects and mobile development at SAP!

Insights into a mobilized enterprise series

1 - Mobile at SAP – Insights into a mobilized enterprise

2 - End-to-end consumer expectation in enterprise mobility – our employees as first customers

3 - Enterprise mobility strategy – the details a mobile-enabled company needs to think about

4 - Internal mobile projects and mobile development at SAP

5 - Internal mobile support – “genius bars” and direct contact to developers

6 - Usability AND security – deep dive on internal security, VPN-less access, device management, and gateways.

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