Global CIO: Inside SAP: 2,500 iPads Are Only The Beginning

SAP's CIO says those 2,500 iPads will soon be joined by Blackberry Playbooks and Android devices and more--and here's how he and his team are making it all happen.

Bob Evans, Contributor

January 13, 2011

5 Min Read

"On top of that, the pace of innovation and new-product launches among the device makers is accelerating wildly, and that also has to be factored into our plans," Bussmann said. "The lifecycle of smartphones and tablets is getting shorter and shorter—every 6 to 12 months, some people will want upgrades so that they can gain greater productivity and value from the new features and capabilities that the newest devices have.

"Content will drive that behavior—what the new devices can create, access, and manipulate—and we need to be ready for that accelerated pace."

"As CIO, one thing you don't want to be is a showstopper," Bussmann said with a laugh. "At the end, it's all about the innovation you can bring to the organization. And we have learned that you can get quick wins with the iPad, not question about it, but there are also other devices coming in as well that are also going to be very important.

"On top of that, this provides me with great experiences as I talk with many customers about what we've done and how it's working."

On the applications side, Bussmann and his team started with basic office productivity tools such as email, calendars, VPN access, desktops over Citrix, and people directory.

"After that, a quick win for us and for many of our customers has been mobile business intelligence use-cases," he said. "With us, that means using the Business Objects reporting engine with Business Explorer to give us KPI monitoring in the most-organized way and it makes information available to our mobile workers in sales and marketing anywhere, anytime.

"They can do predictive what-if analyses, and because of that very powerful capability, we have seen BI become the #1 solution people want across our different user groups," Bussmann said.

Those mobile workers will get vastly more power at their fingertips, he said, via the use of in-memory technology, which SAP is currently using for internal CRM applications.

"We moved our entire CRM database—3 terabytes of data, multiple years of history, more than 12 million records—into the new SAP Hana appliance, and our salespeople were quickly able to use the iPad as a front end for Business Objects to analyze 650,000 opportunities in real time, and that type of insight lets you very precisely determine how you drive your salesforce," Bussmann said.

"These are things we simply couldn't do 12 months ago, or even 6 months ago. Now we can."

In-memory processing, he said, "will open up scenarios in the mobile world to combine certain functionality and generate new use-cases and business value that did not exist before, and that combination of mobile enablement and massive real-time in-memory processing lets salespeople get the answers and insights they need without having to wait 10 or 20 or 30 seconds."

That's great for the sales team—but it's also great for the IT organization, Bussmann said.

"One of the things I've learned in this project is that if you can do it rapidly and successfully, it changes the perception of the IT organization because you've driven some really valuable new types of innovation," he said.


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About the Author(s)

Bob Evans


Bob Evans is senior VP, communications, for Oracle Corp. He is a former InformationWeek editor.

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