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Five Mobile Must-Sees at SAPPHIRE NOW 2011

Anyone who's interested in enterprise mobility needs to watch the announcements at SAPPHIRE NOW next week. Fortunately, you don't need to be physically in Orlando for you to stay plugged-in.

SAP bought Sybase last year just weeks before SAPPHIRE NOW, so there was no time to bring a major mobile presence to the show. This year will be different, with SAPPHIRE NOW's first-ever mobility campus.

That's where I'll be roaming around next week, blogging, tweeting (@ericylai) and even shooting a video or two. Here are a few things that I definitely plan to catch:

1) The mobile apps roadmap. It's a poorly-kept secret that Sybase and SAP are preparing a slew of packaged enterprise apps this year. Some are simple workflows and extensions of SAP server applications, others are richer, full-fledged apps in their own right. Sybase executive vice-president and CMO Raj Nathan oversees this team along with SAP senior vice-president Nick Brown. Both will be presenting Monday morning (10:30 to 11:30 am) at the mobility campus theater, which seats only 100, so you may want to get there early (theater sessions will also be broadcast live and/or be recorded for later viewing. Register here to watch).

2) Enterprise mobile customers. CIOs love to see their peers talking about their experiences deploying mobile apps. At SAPPHIRE NOW, there will be a bunch of those panels. On Monday 2 PM in the theater, catch Boston Scientific, Tellabs and Novus talking about their SAP/Sybase deployments. On Tuesday 11 am in the theater, Abbott Labs, Verizon and PG&E will open their respective kimonos. On Tuesday, there's General Mills (who we've written about before) at 12:30-1:30 and Deloitte Consulting at 4:15. On Wednesday, there's Dow Corning (11:30-12:15) talking about their use of the RoamBI analytics dashboard on the iPad, and Vodafone and Novus (again) at 2-2:30 pm. Check SAP TV to see which of these will be broadcast or videotaped for future viewing if you won't be in Orlando. There will also be multiple 'Real-World Mobility Lessons from CIOs' microforums (12 attendees max) where attendees can discuss issues in a more intimate setting.

3) SAP Runs SAP. One of the most cutting-edge users of mobile technology, appropriately, is SAP (it's up to 4,000 iPads and 200 BlackBerry Playbooks). Its CIO Oliver Bussmann will talk about his experience unwiring SAP on Monday at 1 pm in mobility campus theater.

4) Goodies for developers. One of the reasons why enterprise mobility has been relatively slow to take off is the scarcity of apps, which can be chalked up to the scarcity of developers. Contrary to the headlines on Techmeme, there are relatively few programmers who know the iPhone's native language, Objective-C. That will be rectified in the next release of the Sybase Unwired Platform to be announced at SAPPHIRE NOW. See the press release or catch product marketing manager Loren Corbridge before or after her microforums at SAPPHIRE NOW (2-3 PM Monday, 1-1:45 PM, 2-2:45 PM and 4-4:45 PM on Tuesday, and Wednesday 2-5 PM) to learn more.

5) Tablets in the enterprise. Several hundred people have already pre-registered for two of the micro-forums hosted by Sybase consultant Matt Carrier, one on the iPhone and iPad in the enterprise, another on tablets, making them the most popular sessions throughout SAPPHIRE NOW so far. Fortunately, Matt is presenting multiple times, so just try to catch one of his non-oversubscribed sessions.

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