Multi-channel customer experience, security and the app economy – these are just some of the trends shaping the mobility arena. Freya Purnell reports.
The consumerisation of IT is nowhere more apparent than in enterprise mobility. The move towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how employees and customers want to interact with organisations. This demand has moved beyond the device, to now encompass tools and applications. It is a paradigm shift that has seen mobility become a crucial component of a solution’s fabric, rather than an afterthought.
The opportunities are upon us: as Richard Absalom, Ovum senior analyst, enterprise mobility, says, “As businesses adapt to increasing consumerisation and extend the range of tools and applications available to employees on all devices, enterprises and supply-side vendors alike need to be prepared for these developing trends: businesses in order to realise the full business benefits of mobile working, and vendors in order to address enterprise demand and remain relevant in a crowded, highly competitive market.”
There are several major trends in mobile consumerisation that are expected to have a big impact on businesses in 2014.
1. The true multi-channel experience – cloud, big data and mobility intersect
As mobile devices become the first point of contact between a business and its customers, suppliers and employees, businesses will need to provide a strong multi-channel experience, according to Ovum. User experience will be everything – companies must be able to successfully tackle this complicated task to give users a slick, integrated experience across every aspect of the business, from marketing, advertising, promotion and sales through to internal and back-office processes.
Mobile commerce is a crucial aspect of this, and SAP ANZ head of mobile solutions Selim Ahmed says it is one of the main areas SAP is focusing on. With a mobile commerce platform already available, SAP is now looking to make it available in the cloud in the next three to six months. The platform enables the orchestration of key services, such as payment, loyalty and authentication services. SAP has partnered with companies such as Gen-i to provide mobile commerce services for retailers, banks and utilities, and already has some key applications available – for example, apps designed to help consumers interact with their utility by viewing bills, making payments, and manage energy consumption via their mobile device.
Particularly when it comes to retail, the holy grail of mobility has been being able to target consumers with relevant and context-sensitive offers or information direct to their device, and that’s now a reality with SAP’s Precision Marketing solution.
“You can actually, in real time, in store, with rich awareness of context, deliver a highly personalised and relevant offer to your customer,” says Ahmed. “That’s part of the whole mobile commerce suite being able to transact, being able to review and research, and being able to compare and evaluate products.
“Our mobile commerce can support the sales transaction process end-to-end – from a customer trying to identify a need, considering an offer, making a purchase, and then receiving and evaluating the product. That’s probably the key differentiator for us.”
And this is where the other major technology trends – big data, analytics, and cloud – combine with mobility to create a paradigm shift in consumer engagement.
“The success of the mobile experience is ultimately underpinned by the analytics you can provide,” Ahmed says. “The key driving force behind our Precision Marketing solution is the ability to bring together structured and unstructured data to get an understanding of the individual – who they are, what’s their behaviour, what are their preferences, and then also being able to say, what time of day is it, where are they, and what are the kinds of offers that would make sense to them.”
Ahmed says the outcome of bringing all this information together is a larger basket size for the individual, and enhanced customer loyalty, in terms of repeat business and having an affinity with the brand – ultimately leading to higher revenue per customer.
It works because it’s what consumers are demanding – they don’t want to be a demographic or a piece of data; they want to be treated as an individual, with information customised specifically for them.
Rahul Narain, IBM worldwide technical lead and chief architect for mobile appliance and BPM solutions, says context awareness and buying intent are two emerging areas where real-time analytics will facilitate greater engagement with consumers via mobile devices.
For example, analysing the behaviour of consumers across a variety of scenarios may show that they prefer a company to assist them in different ways depending on the context.
“The analytics would actually understand your likes and dislikes a bit better than you may be able to articulate into the app,” Narain says. “If you analyse 50 transactions, you start seeing that this is what need to be done for [this consumer], and you can help in this particular manner. So it’s understanding the intent of the transaction. We have got technology that complements the SAP scenario for context awareness.”
In the public sector, the pressure is on governments and agencies to improve service delivery and efficiency with the help of mobile, but again, citizens are demanding more than just a ‘one size fits all’ approach, particularly when it comes to sharing information across agencies.
“Person A is not the same as person B. One person will say you have no right to share this information of mine just because I am getting public assistance, and person B says, see if other social service organisations would provide me assistance given the specific issue I have,” Narain says. “Privacy, security and non-repudiation of the data will all be very important factors [into the future].”
The growth of mobile is also driving interest in cloud services, particularly for its high scalability and elasticity, according to Keith Murray, global SAP alliance leader, cloud computing for IBM.
“A challenge for companies is mapping their IT in a very fluctuating environment. They might be looking for temporary resources to develop a solution, they might be looking for a way to provide that solution to a much broader audience,” Murray says. “We are seeing a lot of clients interested in moving away from one-time investments that are then depreciated over time into more of an ongoing cost structure which maps their actual requirements.”
Another aspect of the ‘always on’ mobile consumer’s expectations is that solutions will constantly be available, highly responsive and very accurate – which can be difficult to deliver on.
“Can you afford to have enough resources to meet those high expectations in a fluctuating demand environment? It might be a million [users] today, it might be 10,000 tomorrow. That’s another driver for companies to look for alternative ways of deploying and delivering those resources,” Murray says.
2. Maintaining security on devices and throughout networks
While BYOD has been around for a while now, enterprises are still coming to terms with how to manage – and perhaps more importantly, secure – a proliferation of devices.
Ovum expects more businesses to address the drivers of BYOD with more comprehensive corporate mobility policies in 2014 – either through CYOD (choose your own device) or COPE (corporate-owned, personally enabled) strategies, in which employees are given a choice of devices to use by their employer, and allowed to use them for personal purposes.
Managing and securing the data on devices is also high priority at present.
“There is a lot of corporate data stored on mobile devices now, and that’s really front of mind for the chief risk officer at the moment. How do they secure all that data on the device, and make sure people are complying with data management policy and strategy, especially when they are using their own devices on a corporate network?,” Ahmed says.
Among SAP’s solution offerings in the mobile security area are the SAP Afaria mobile device management suite; ‘app wrapping’ with SAP Mobile App Protection by Mocana (the cloud version of which was released in December), to maximise security and maintain control of sensitive application data; and SAP Mobile Documents, a secure, enterprise-level Dropbox alternative for the sharing of corporate documents.
Scott Davidson, general manager – Australia and New Zealand, HCL Axon, says the technology in this area is developing so rapidly that it is way ahead of what most enterprises are doing to control security on their mobile devices.
“Most organisations aren’t even scratching the surface of that. They are having to completely change their way of thinking – identity used to be how to manage users’ ID and passwords, and grant them access to systems and applications,” Davidson says. “You can’t do the same things you might have used to do in terms of security and access inside your building.”
He says this step change means enterprises are right to be very concerned about how to manage their security strategy as the device landscape further fragments and expands rapidly.
“It’s not the technology that’s causing the problems, it’s adapting and developing a strategy to implement it,” Davidson says. “I think people are only really starting to get an idea of exactly what the long game is for that, rather than just being reactive.”
3. Getting appy
The recognition that mobile applications now must also be secured is a reflection of the growing importance of apps for the next phase of the evolution of enterprise mobility, which is expected to create new ways of working and transform existing business processes.
Ovum predicts in 2014, enterprise mobile apps will become a core part of the enterprise IT application stack, creating challenges for enterprises such as getting the user experience right and enabling tight integration with internal systems – but presenting a world of opportunity for app developers, systems integrators and mobility management vendors.
“For organisations that already have a mobility strategy in place, the next step is for them to start mobilising as many internal processes as possible to allow workers to perform their core tasks from whichever device they have to hand, from wherever they are,” Ovum says.
To assist enterprises to move towards this, SAP is in the process of releasing Fiori Wave 2, which expands the number of apps from 25 to over 200.
“It is simplifying and improving the user experience for access to key functions such as HR and finance,” Ahmed says, adding that as Fiori progresses, it’s becoming an “interactive desktop of choice”. By presenting key information such as leave balances, updated organisational news, and approvals and workflows that require action, organisations can engage with their employees better.
“They are making it easier for the employee to be productive, and at the same time, making it clear for the employee what their expectations are in terms of their corporate duties,” Ahmed says.
Mobile learning is another important play for SAP.
“Organisations are really struggling to cope with making sure people are continuously learning about new corporate policies, guidelines and procedures,” Ahmed says. “So there is a lot of value [in mobile learning] because people can then learn when they want, where they want, but synchronise and confirm that they have completed all their mandatory learning and courses.”
Davidson says from a process perspective, customer experience management, human capital management and employee engagement, and enterprise asset management is where most interest lies for apps across different sectors.
At the application level, solutions range from enabling very simple employee transactions via mobile devices, to allowing salespeople to take quotes for $50 million aircraft from an iPad, to providing engineers with three-dimensional graphics of a component of plant equipment while they are on a field inspection.
He believes the release of the 3.0 version of SAP Mobile Platform has made it much easier for customers and integrators to pursue a more comprehensive mobile vision.
“A serious conventional change that we’re seeing is you don’t just develop little spot apps, but embrace mobility as a core part of the organisation’s whole approach to technology, and SAP has really got that platform idea in 3.0,” Davidson says. “So the lifting of constraints in being able to develop ubiquitous interfaces across different technologies and the ability to do their security strategy has been very positively received.”
Keeping up with the pace of change
With the continual adaptation and change occurring in the mobile space, enterprises face considerable challenges in establishing an architecture that can cope with the constant transformation, as well as deliver on ever-increasing employee expectations.
“The biggest question we’re getting [from customers] is how they can come up with a mobility strategy that remains relevant with the amount of innovation that’s taking place,” Davidson says. “They are after solution resilience and the ability to constantly adapt, speed to market, continuous integration and inherent support of their business processes through minimal configuration and deployment.”
Developing a framework where technology comes under the umbrella of a business-led strategy can help to ‘future-proof’ mobile strategy, but the smartest organisations are seeing the writing on the wall and pursuing a mobile-first approach.
“Anything that they buy in terms of applications needs to be instantly available on mobile – they don’t want to have to go and develop this themselves. The laggards within the area are still just dipping their toes in the water, and I think that’s probably a fairly expensive exercise in terms of a lot of pain, and actually you are better off moving very quickly to a new approach,” says Davidson.
“A good example of that is in the HR space. Those who are still using the SAP on-premise solution are having to make their own way with mobility, some are using Fiori, some are developing their own apps; whereas when you look at SuccessFactors’ cloud-based technology, it is all out of the box mobility. Certainly the more advanced organisations see the value in that new technology rather than trying to hack through and do it their own way on the more traditional platform.”
Whatever the approach enterprises choose, mobility will certainly remain a hot topic and crucial competitive factor in the coming years.
Syclo leading the charge
Enterprise asset management tool Syclo continues to be a very strong performer for SAP, representing around 50 per cent of mobile sales. It tackles some of the most intractable pain points for mobile workers involved with maintenance and service in asset-intensive industries.
“For all those jobs, traditionally there is a significant amount of administrative overhead where they had to go back to a corporate centre to input data,” Ahmed says. “There were issues with data quality, and clearly the productivity of employees was low because they wasted time driving back and forth between head office and remote locations, and on data entry after the event.”
Another issue was that data wasn’t being recorded in real time, which affected asset utilisation or maintenance lifecycles.
In addition to enabling greater employee productivity, Syclo is helping companies reduce asset downtime production delays because there is better lifetime maintenance and service.
“Our research shows a reduction in downtime of 20 to 30 per cent; preventable failure is reduced by up to 90 per cent; maintenance backlog is reduced by 60 per cent, so it’s really improving the way assets are managed,” Ahmed says. “One of the key things we are looking at is the workforce capacity, so labour productivity is up by up to 50 per cent in some of our studies. By improving your data and the support for the individual out in the fields, you reduce the rework by 15 to 20 per cent.”
Syclo also assists in maintaining compliance and improving safety, and SAP is looking to take this further by making the solution even more visual. For example, a work order to dismantle a pump will include a sketch of the pump and highlight any hazards.
“The more information you can provide someone proactively at the site where they are performing their asset maintenance, the more that reduces the risk of a workforce incident happening, as they are aware and prepared,” Ahmed says.
With results like these, it’s perhaps not surprising that Syclo is leading the way in mobile sales for SAP.
“The return on investment from Syclo is just so large that it’s irrefutable, and hence organisations are moving quicker because the ROI is justified and clear.”
This article originally appeared in Inside SAP Summer 2013.