Podcast: Sybase, SAP Talk Smartphone Apps - InformationWeek

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3/22/2009
06:42 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Podcast: Sybase, SAP Talk Smartphone Apps

I've been tardy in posting this five-minute podcast, where Sybase chief marketing officer Raj Nathan and SAP vice president Vinay Iyer delve into their joint deal to improve access to SAP's smartphone apps. (Sybase is providing the middleware.) But you should listen, because the "smartphone is the computer" is a meme that's rapidly gaining traction from deals like this.

I've been tardy in posting this five-minute podcast, where Sybase chief marketing officer Raj Nathan and SAP vice president Vinay Iyer delve into their joint deal to improve access to SAP's smartphone apps. (Sybase is providing the middleware.) But you should listen, because the "smartphone is the computer" is a meme that's rapidly gaining traction from deals like this.By pressing the tiny play button here you can listen to my chat with Raj and Vinay.

You can go here, to Mary Hayes Weier's March 11 news story, where she outlines this specifics of the spot news. Basically, it's like I said above. SAP apps, which are already mobilized (is that a word?) to some extent are going to go more native -- i.e., they'll have more functionality and work better -- thanks to middleware from Sybase. The latter will do the grunt work of managing integration between the SAP apps and the multiple mobile device (iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile) on which they'll run.

Users won't see fruits of this deal until late this year or early next year. That kind of time lag is pretty consistent with what I discovered when I reported the InformationWeek cover story last fall, Is The Smartphone Your Next Computer?. Namely, there's such intense interest in moving forward on smartphone apps, that user desires, technical discussions, and vendor deal-making are somewhat ahead of the actual end-user applications.

I don't expect this state to obtain for long, though. There are two trends that are driving the imminent acceleration of mobile apps. One is technical, the other economic.

Let's take the second one first. The economic accelerator here is that the current recession is not only flattening workforces, but causing the idea of "empowered workforce" to become a real business imperative. People simply don't have the time to operate as if the old top-down model was still in play. Plus, they can't travel to meetings as much as they used to. Everyone's under the gun, so everyone's empowered and we're tilting towards an "all mobility, all the time" mode of operation.

For that to run successfully, though, the mobile apps have to be there. As Raj Nathan points out in the podcast, to date this has been doable for big companies, with bucks and resources to roll their own custom smartphone apps. The significance of deals like SAP/Sybase, as well as other relationships like Oracle partnership with Antenna Software, and Apple's opening up of its iPhone developer's program, is that the playing field is widening so that many more businesses can get started on getting the mobile apps they need.

Anyway, so in closing I don't want to go overboard and give the impression that we're there yet. (Although most enterprise software vendors would be quick to argue this point, and note they that do indeed have mobile apps now.) What I really mean is that we're still in an early, but very fast moving, stage of this brave new mobile world where we all will be doing a lot more than email on our smartphones, and very soon.

As SAP's Vinay Iyer sums it up in the podcast: "I think we are on the cusp of major innovation, of bringing business process information to workers globally on any device, anywhere, anytime."

What's your take? Let me know, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at [email protected].

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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.

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