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How SAP Aims to Lead the Enterprise Mobile App Market

SAP is making big moves in order to become the leader of a fourth market for enterprise applications, this time in mobile.

SAP AG has long led three huge markets for enterprise applications: ERP, CRM and business intelligence. At SAPPHIRE NOW on Monday, SAP executives confirmed the firm's naked ambition to take over the small-but-ready-to-explode market for enterprise mobile apps.

SAP senior vice-president Nick Brown showed off a slew of new apps in four areas: retail execution, general worker productivity, field service and analytics.

Available for iOS and Windows Mobile devices, the retail app helps salespeople better manage store inventory, audit for compliance reasons, and, ultimately, boost revenue, said Brown.

The field service app, meanwhile, was co-built with Cisco Systems. It includes Near-Field Communications (NFC) capabilities, video collaboration and visualization. It is being released on Windows Mobile immediately, with Android and iOS versions to follow.

The new apps add to SAP's two previously-existing mobile apps, co-created with Sybase: CRM and workflow.

SAP plans to unveil 30 more apps within the next six months, said Sybase senior vice-president Raj Nathan.

They include apps in the areas of sourcing, human capital management, sales and service, cross-topics, vertical industry-specific apps and financials, said Brown.

Sybase CMO Raj Nathan: SAP plans to release 30 new apps in next six months.

In addition SAP also unveiled a trio of customizable mobile apps in the areas of expense management, time entry and system alerts.

SAP calls these 'app accelerators', according to Jeff Chua, a manager in SAP Consulting, for two reasons.

First, while all of the other SAP apps are being built by SAP's Mobile Business Unit housed inside Sybase, the app accelerators were built by SAP's Consulting team.

More importantly from the enterprise point of view, customers do not license and pay maintenance for SAP's 'app accelerators', but instead just pay for the cost of customizing and implementing them, said Chua.

All of the apps and app accelerators discussed above run on top of the Sybase Unwired Platform.

Similar to how Microsoft builds both platforms and applications on those platforms, SAP is aggressively pursuing partners to build apps that connect with its server applications and run on top of the Sybase Unwired Platform. In that way, it hopes to build a pie large enough to sate itself as well as its ecosystem.

SAP has already garnered support for this approach, with at least a dozen apps on display from third-party vendors.

One example was Accenture, which showed off two apps: a mobile app store and device manager for enterprises, and another app aimed at field service technicians.

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