Data-wise, mobile means two things:
- Delivering computing services to mobile devices
- Delivering location-aware services that respond to, or even anticipate, the mobile user's needs.
Sybase is a data-management company, and execs, at TechWave, talked about both types of mobile. According to my tweetstream notes, Sybase Vice President Greg Dunn stressed "consumer mobility engagement": a Market, Transact, Manage, Empower life cycle extended from pre-mobile-computing touchpoints to ones created by the emergence of location-aware mobile devices. Dunn spoke of mobile Customer Relationship Management (mCRM) with mobile-adapted coupons, loyalty programs, marketing, research, and services locators. I observe that these are data-driven services, effective only if guided by strong analytics. I haven't seen any other company articulate a comparable vision that is so far along the road to delivery although I do admit that I'm not on top of every mobile/CRM/marketing solution out there.
Regarding delivery of enterprise computing services to mobile devices: I was impressed by Ian Thain's live demos in which he discussed app-building and then placed an iPhone and then an iPad on an overhead projector to very simply and effectively show . (See it here in Doug Henschen's Image Gallery: SAP Unveils Integrated BI Strategy Roadmap.) Thain calls himself a Sybase Tools Technical Evangelist, a role that clearly suits him well.
I do have questions regarding the inclusion of location in enterprise applications -- a goal for every enterprise applications vendor, not just for SAP-Sybase -- that I can articulate in a few simple use cases:
- Manager X is out of the office, as indicated by a mobile device. Route operational alerts to an on-site deputy and reduce X's alerts to certain essentials and send twice-daily, simplified summary reports.
- An iPhone-equipped account rep is visiting a customer and has an extra hour. Whom should she introduce herself to at that particular customer site?
- The account rep is in downtown San Jose. Customer's FourSquare tweets that he's at Philz Coffee a few blocks away (one of twenty customers the rep follows on Twitter). Perfect opportunity to say hello.
My scenarios seem hum-drum, today needs, same-but-better stuff rather than anything truly new, but the concept of situational intelligence is not. I expect things truly new to emerge from mobile computing, in BI and other enterprise applications, just as they have in the consumer domain. Mobile enabled, BI/analytics fueled, situational intelligence is among the most promising.
Addendum, August 26, 2010: I've just had one of those "duh, how could I forget that" moments. Of course there's a truly new enterprise mobile app (and of course it's analytics-reliant), augmented reality. SAP is working on it per a July 30 ZDnet interview with Timo Elliott, senior director of strategic marketing. See SAP leads businesses into augmented reality.Mobile computing is a disruptor, a game-changer. Forward looking organizations, notably recently merged SAP and Sybase, have seen mobile's enterprise potential, including as a BI revolutionizer. Our vision should extend to situational intelligence, situational awareness coupled with interpretation of the users status, plans, and goals and enhanced with analysis of the user's social network...