Several years ago I quipped that for enterprise mobility to expand beyond a niche collection of point solutions supporting line of business workflows, large enterprise software vendors needed to ante up and make mobility a core competence. Well SAP has done exactly that. Through acquisitions of Sybase, Syclo and others, SAP has made a big statement around mobility and its relevance to the company’s future direction. Earlier this year at SAPPHIRE all the focus was around mobility, the cloud and HANA in memory computing. So how far have we come? Is enterprise mobility ready for primetime?
After spending a the past couple of days at SAP’s TechEd event and getting a chance to interface with many SAP customers and partners, I am certainly seeing progress. However, many of the characteristics of the enterprise mobility market that lead me to my initial comment remain, even today, very real. Yes, we have seen innovation around new mobile applications and development and support tools. And the combination of increasingly powerful and ergonomic mobile devices and seemingly pervasive access to wireless broadband is massively powerful.
Yet, the BYOD hysteria notwithstanding, true enterprise mobility remains very much a line of business story. Fundamentally, the largest investments in mobile solutions is still around automating processes such as direct store delivery (DSD), customer engagement in retail or enterprise asset management in mining to name a few. For SAP revenue contribution from mobile was just under $150 million in 2011 and is (perhaps aggressively) forecast to reach $285 million in 2012. At 1-2% of overall revenues, SAP has a ways to go before mobility makes a meaningful top-line contribution.
The bottom line is that while progress is clearly being made, for all the change in the broader mobile market, enterprise mobility remains highly fragmented, if not immature. In fact, in rethinking my original observation, perhaps the more prescient statement would have been that a weak Microsoft mobile value proposition would set the enterprise mobile market back. Put another way, a strong(er) Microsoft could have substantially elevated the enterprise mobility market over the past several years. While the contributions to the mobile market by Apple are truly transformational they will never be mistaken for an ‘enterprise friendly’ organization.
Beyond the mobile missteps of Microsoft, one could make an argument that trends like BYOD are stalling the enterprise mobility market as much as they are elevating or expanding the exposure of mobility in the enterprise. The fact remains that rolling out more sophisticated mobility solutions is exceedingly difficult in a BYOD first environment. Nevertheless, according to our research, the momentum behind BYOD within enterprise organizations is not stalling. However, mistaking BYOD for true enterprise mobility is a mistake.
Going into 2013 the promise of enterprise mobility remains in my eyes as strong as ever. What is equally clear is that there are many more great questions that there are great answers. Will Microsoft’s Windows 8 play a serious role in the enterprise, and if not, what next? Will SAP succeed at fully integrating its mobile assets? Will Oracle follow suit and take a stake in this market?