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When you are aiming to grow your mobility business as agressively as SAP is, a strategic M&A strategy is likely to / expected to be part of the equation. Indeed, based on the acquisition of Sybase in 2010, and now Syclo, VDC estimates that SAP's mobility revenues could potentially reach $500M this year. However, as we all know — the software giant is definitely aiming higher.
Mobile is not the new desktop, but it certainly is going to positively impact the bottom-line for SAP in the coming years based on the company's focus and agressiveness. SAP and Syclo have had a solid relationship for some time now — in fact, SAP chose Syclo as one of its three mobile co-innovation partners in 2010 (RIM and Sybase are the other two — Sybase now part of SAP, was acquired in May of 2010).
While Syclo's middleware and mobile development platform (known as its Agentry platform) is in use by a significant portion of the company's clients, the company did reveal last fall that it had begun to work with SAP's Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) and was planning to transition its clients to SUP - indeed, the effects of the landscape shift that resulted from SAP's acquisition of Sybase has and continues to impact the channel and hence, the entire mobile ecosystem.
Others have mentioned that acquiring Syclo was a defensive acquistion by SAP — in my view, that is partly true, moving forward, I see companies like Oracle and Microsoft making much bolder moves than acquiring a small (~$50M) private company like Syclo. However, strategic M&A will be critical — and there are several companies similar to Syclo that are likely being evaluated by SAP (and competitors) for acquisition.
Bottom line, this acquisition was for Syclo's customers — SAP is commited to SUP , and will continue to innovate and enhance/expand its capabilities.
What about IBM Maximo?
In early March at IBM's Pulse event in Las Vegas, Syclo revealed that its SMART Mobile Suite for Maximo was available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. The company has been working with IBM for over ten years, and has deployed mobile solutions for more ~400 IBM Maximo enterprise asset management software customers (Syclo's Maximo solutions are prebuilt/pre-integrated Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) applications that leverage Syclo's EAM experience). My question is around what will happen to IBM Maximo users who are Syclo customers — naturally, SAP will support these users (its in their best interest) in the near term, but there is certainly a risk of some attrition within this customer base.
I'm looking forward to attending Sapphire in May - if you are planning on attending, please ping me (@eakleiner) if you'd like to chat about enterprise mobility.