SAP had already made headlines last month when its CIO Oliver Bussmann disclosed plans to deploy as many as 17,000 iPads within the 48,000-employee company. But SAP won't go Apple-only, as Bussmann plans for SAP to be fully "device-agnostic" on tablets.
"We are enabling Android devices as well as the BlackBerry Playbook," he said Thursday in an audio podcast interview with Enterprise Geeks. Note Bussmann's wording: he stopped short of saying that SAP would actually deploy Android and BlackBerry tablets on the same scale as the iPads. Rather, he implied that his team would either roll them out in a more limited way, or support them as they are rolled out by individual business units or brought in as employee-owned devices.
The enterprise CIO of an earlier time would have simply standardized on an iPad. But Bussmann, who has been planning SAP's tablet strategy since the beginning of the year, says that's no longer possible. "Employees bring in their own expectations...Lifestyle becomes workstyle," he said. Also, Bussmann feels it is important for SAP to be on the cutting-edge so that it can share knowledge and serve as a role model to customers.
The market-leading Afaria device management software from Sybase (full disclosure: Sybase is my employer and SAP owns Sybase) will enable Bussmann's team to support this diversity strategy.
On the other hand, Bussmann says there will be some limits. For instance, because of Android's fast-changing operating system and diverse hardware, SAP plans to be "very specific to what devices we support." That will mean that SAP's Bring Your Own Computer strategy won't be as broad as some employees may prefer. That he says is the reality of having to account for different laws on data privacy and other issues in different countries. Central European laws, for instance, are "very restrictive," he said.
Is it worth the potential management/security headache for companies to support multiple tablets, or should they just pursue one?