Monday, June 4, 2012

Experience at SAP Innovation & Technology Event @ Singapore

I am continued to be amazed by SAP labs on how they innovate and build the next generation products, strategy and help grow their customers. I recently happend to to be at SAP's Innovation and Technology Forum at Singapore. It was on June 1, 2012. I had the opportunity to deliver a 10 minute quick thoughts on mobility in a HCM track along with our partner RollingArray's CEO Manu Khetan. Thanks Manu for the opportunity.

The event was organized by SAP for all its customers in APAC region. As an event Sponsor Rolling Arrays had secured booth to which me and my colleagues joined. Rolling Arrays and Endeavour - The Mobility Company have recently joined hands to support enterprise customers extend their LOB apps to Mobility. Manu specializes in HCM and was also talking at this event. Being the strategic mobility partner, i joined him to share the stage to give my thoughts on Mobility. It was an amazing crowd, everyone nodding their heads to the needs and challenges of Mobility i briefly touched upon. There is no doubt that enterprises have realized the potential of Mobility and willing to explore actively.

The event began with keynotes by Steve Lucas - SAP EVP and SAP Database Evangelist. He discussed about the various challenges and noises that a business has to go through and how SAP is helping the customers all around. His focus of the keynote was SAP Hana. The latest technological inovation SAP has brought in to do in-memory database computations. There was this great demo on the iPad that Steve's fellow teammate shown about performance of the Hana backend through iPad application. The sales analytics being drilled down on more than 4 dimensions was great. The UI could have been better :D) but i think for a demo it was good!

Hana is a good concept as it brings all the database in memory that is required more frequently. I am not a great db expert but to me it looks like caching done smartly, the kind of old wine in new bottle ;) But having said this, what SAP Hana could do was bring a large result set in less than few seconds on the user's screen! The equivalent SQL queries on the oracle database took 700-800 times more effort than SAP. I am sure it was the difference in data being available in memory than making a round trip to DB for every fetch. A bit logical. But then why Oracle has not done this in the past? The questions in unanswered for now. I will dig deeper someday and get you the answer :) But in a way this is similar paradigm shift from the mainframe based computing to Internet computing two decades old. We are now shifting from the disk based storage retrieval to smarted in memory computations. A good move, indeed.

Later in the day when the conference had shifted the focus from innovation to Technology. A lot of speakers emphasized on various services offerings and their value to the customers as SAP channel partners. People seemed to be very much focused and asking smart questions to the booth representatives around us. A lot of them asking about the challenges in implementing mobility in an enterprise. A subject dearer to me :) I had a great time explaining them about the challenges we have been facing in mobilizing some of the largest enterprise applications for our customers. The role played by Middleware and Device Management softwares.

Mobility is not just the application being developed and deployed on the device - a phone or a tablet. For some people its like accessing your email and calendars. I agree that this is the beginning but thats is not where the mobility ends. Unless you turn those smartphones and tablet in real data churning devices that help you take decisions on the go, you have not unleashed their potential. By letting people use their smartphones for accessing their emails, you essentially did encourage - "bring your own brick!" and "bring your own device". In my opinion, unless the devices are integral part of network and allow you to access the business critical information for your role seamlessly, they are just the bricks. More so if you are an executive or field staff who is on the go most of the times.

The enterprise line of business (LOB) applications must be enabled to be access on the tablet. The MEAP platforms like Sybase Unwired Platform plays an important role in such instances. For the audience who was attending this conference, they had some or the other kind of SAP application running in their network. And it was making more sense to implement SUP based middleware to extend their enterprise applications to the tablets. There was this case study by Patrick Hoo, CIO of NongFu Springs who implemented the SAP Hana and demonstrated greater productivity and enhance,ent in their business processes.

I included Endeavour's SUP experience working with our largest sales force implementation and people were amazed to see such a large scale iPad roll out. Our customer had decided to shift from the laptop based system to the iPad based data access to all their sales force - more than 5600 worldwide. The challenges we faced were many starting with the stability of SUP itself to the bandwidth challenges, data persistence, VPN tunnels, discovery of new requirement as you understand more of the expectations and so on. My team's lessons learned on designing a really scalable and reliable solution with high performing Mobile Business Objects (MBOs), even SUP had hard time to cope up with! But thanks to the patience shown by major stakeholders and extraordinary performance by the team, we pulled it off right!

Here is the copy of the presentation i used for the event. It has more details on Endeavour's offerings and case study, solution and nuances of SUP/ MEAP implementation. It also briefly touches to importance of UX and touch points of Mobile Opportunity Assessment to build a mobility roadmap for an enterprise. Endeavour has been serving fortune 500 enterprise organizations since a decade. Our mobility expertise coupled with SAP expertise enhances our capability & credibility to build right mobility strategy and implement it for our customers.

It was really an amazing event with people really doing things with mobility! At this occasion Rolling Arrays and Endeavour jointly decided to launch the RDS initiative - Rapid Deployment Solution. This will help our customers and prospects who have been seriously thinking about Mobility to extend their LOB apps to mobile devices through our custom built and SAP standard Mobility Apps. Endeavour and RA also jointly decided to offer the pre-MOA sessions to customers who would like to explore more on the mobility.

Stay tuned for the announcement - my technology competency team (center of excellence) will be shortly holding the webinar on "How to utilize SUP in the enterprise to extend LOB Apps". the registration links will be published on our website in due course of time.

And here are some photographs of the event we captured during at our booth in the event and while i was on stage.
The Rolling Arrays team and Endeavour leadership at the booth
And this is me talking mobility without a pause :D)
Please post your comments, questions and feedback and as always i will respond to you ASAP. I know i am lazy in posting on blog, but faster to respond to your comments :)