SAP and Sybase announced a non-exclusive partnership today, building a bridge - as they explained it - between SAP's enterprise software offering and the mobile platform provided by Sybase. (Techmeme)
Both companies said the new partnership wouldn't impact existing or future partnerships with other companies. Both, for example, are already partners with Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry. Instead, the offerings would be enhanced. While I didn't think that was earth-shattering news worthy of a splashy NYC press conference, there were two pieces of the puzzle that struck me as interesting.
The first is the integration with all mobile devices, whether Blackberry, iPhone, Palm, Windows Mobile, Android or others. In a post this morning, Larry Dignan looked at the various mobile platforms that developers are dealing with. At some point, he wrote, the developers will be forced to make some choices - they can't spend all of their time writing and supporting apps for a long list of platforms. At the same time, the mobile worker who already has an iPhone shouldn't necessarily be forced to carry a Blackberry, too, just because the company's mobile app only works on the one device.
The second was the outlook for the future. I was impressed that Sybase CEO John Chen recognized that today's announcement itself, while definitely a big deal, wasn't the most exciting part of the new partnership. Instead, he said, the companies can now collaborate and "look way beyond" what they'll deliver in the next 12-18 months. The mobile app space is still in its infancy and Chen is right that there are possibilities for the future that no one even has thought about yet.
During a webcast with the media, SAP and Sybase executives talked up how the mobile worker can be unleashed to be more productive and efficient. That's nothing new. In many instances, it's being done already. Salesforce, for example.
But the two also but talked about how the ramp-up investments - training, systems integration and so on - would be minimal, largely because workers would using devices they already know. And while the companies say their solutions will also be affordable, they did not offer specifics on pricing, other than to say that it would be a "good value" for customers.
The services will begin rolling out in the second half of 2009 and will continue into 2010. The U.S. appears to be the initial launch point, with the companies eyeing other regions, notably Latin America and Asia.
Also see: SAP, CRM 2.0: The Culture Shift Begins