A ZDNet Multiplexer Blog What's this?

Should You Become an SAP Mobile Developer? The One Reason That Matters

Now I know what working at Apple must feel like.After SAP (my employer) announced April 10th that it had bought mobile app vendor Syclo and inked partnerships with development framework vendors Adobe (PhoneGap), Appcelerator and Sencha, praise quickly turned to skepticism.

Now I know what working at Apple must feel like.

After SAP (my employer) announced April 10th that it had bought mobile app vendor Syclo and inked partnerships with development framework vendors Adobe (PhoneGap), Appcelerator and Sencha, praise quickly turned to skepticism.

Oh, the reaction initially was positive.

"SAP will use Syclo’s application portfolio and global customer base to continue boxing out rivals in the race to satiate business customers," wrote ZDNet's Andrew Nusca.

(Fun fact: Syclo CEO Richard Padula has been developing mobile business apps since the mid-1990s, or several years before the WAP-based Mobile 1.0 era.)

"SAP may have put itself in position to be the end-to-end development platform that enterprises are looking for," wrote ReadWriteMobile's Dan Rowinski.

John Wargo has a great post at the Sybase Unwired Platform Developer Center expanding on what that means, and how we hope to attract one million+ developers.

But doubters quickly emerged.

"I cannot see how SAP is going to get to that number, and in what time," wrote Vijay Vijayasankar, an IBM consultant and SAP Mentor.

"SAP needs its developers but does nothing to encourage them," wrote analyst, Dennis Howlett.

There were more comments in that vein. I half expected someone to criticize SAP President and Corporate Officer Sanjay Poonen for not sweatily re-enacting Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's "Developers!" chant.

Some of their points are on the mark. It's far easier for developers at large consultancies and system integrators with SAP enterprise licenses to access the Sybase Unwired Platform than developers at small firms. The library of training materials for SUP is fast-growing (see the Developer Center above) but could still be more plentiful.

The good news is that SAP executives like Poonen are well aware of this issue, and have told key influencers that positive changes are near.

SAP + Mobile Skills = Payday

For you the mobile developer, all of this is noise. What you probably want to know is: right now, is it worth my time and trouble to learn SUP and other SAP technologies?

Naturally, I would say yes. But don't listen to me. Instead, let's hear from Jason Cohen, who is a vice-president for Cyon Recruitment Consultants, an Orlando, Florida-based IT recruiting firm. Cohen has been a recruiter since the late 1990s, with a focus on enterprise software from both Oracle and SAP.

"Enterprise mobility is definitely on an uptick," he said. "There's been more activity in the last several months than we've ever seen."

A search of the Indeed.com job aggregator shows 71 ads looking for SUP skills.

One of those was from Cohen's client, which is looking for an enterprise mobility architect with deep SAP experience. The job, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, would pay between $145,000 to $160,000.

That salary range is extremely low for the Bay Area, acknowledged Cohen, who unsuccessfully tried to persuade the client to sweeten the pot. He says that SAP mobile architects in urban areas like Silicon Valley should be able to command $200,000 a year and up.

"I've personally spoken to a number of people in similar roles in the Bay Area and Los Angeles that are making $240,000 a year," he said. "The ones that have the skills that everyone demands are in the driver's seat. Companies are at their mercy."

By contrast, Cohen spoke recently to a mobile architect skilled in Microsoft technologies who was making about $150,000 a year in Seattle. SAP developers and architects typically make 15% to 20% more than those with skills in Microsoft and other technologies where demand is lower and developers more numerous, he said.

"The demand for SAP skills is much higher. Syclo, Kony or Good? Not so much," he said.

Or check out this survey from SAPrankings.com, which found that SAP mobile consultants with 10 years experience earn about $125 per hour, higher than the $120/hour average for SAP consultants. Cohen says the $125 per hour figure, while accurate nationwide, is low for SAP mobile consultants in major urban cities. They are typically charging $150 "and even $175 per hour."

"The need for talent is growing, but the talent pool is not very large," Cohen said.

So however difficult getting trained up on SAP mobile technology is for you today, it seems like it will pay off.

Of course, if SAP fulfills its dream and brings in legions of developers it could rebound on those developers already in the market, as one SAP developer warned recently.

"Mark my words, we'll be looking for alternative careers because the rates will be destroyed," he wrote.

But it's safe to assume that those who get into the SAP mobile ecosystem sooner will still have a leg up on others. And we've only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of companies mobilizing.

"There's going to be a tremendous increase in the demand for enterprise mobility professionals over the next five years," Cohen said. SAP mobile salaries and rates will continue to rise "for the foreseeable future."


Enterprise Mobility for Dummies is a new eBook sponsored by SAP.

Think of it as a crash course perfect for the non-techie in your work or personal life: your line of business manager, your CFO, your CEO. Get a copy or send the download link above.

Show Comments