What Does RIM+SAP Really Mean?What Does RIM+SAP Really Mean?
We all know that RIM enables mobile access to e-mail and other enterprise applications on its BlackBerry devices. SAP delivers powerful enterprise software that has typically been tethered to the PC. Today, <a href="http://www.sap.com/about/press/press.epx?pressid=9419">the two companies announced plans</a> to craft mobile versions of SAP's software for BlackBerry devices. For existing SAP customers, this is a good deal. But will it bring in new customers?
May 2, 2008
We all know that RIM enables mobile access to e-mail and other enterprise applications on its BlackBerry devices. SAP delivers powerful enterprise software that has typically been tethered to the PC. Today, the two companies announced plans to craft mobile versions of SAP's software for BlackBerry devices. For existing SAP customers, this is a good deal. But will it bring in new customers?RIM and SAP shared the stage in NYC today to announce a partnership between the two companies. They will work together to create a suite of SAP applications that are integrated in the core functions and applications of BlackBerrys. First up is CRM.
The companies claim, "The new mobile SAP CRM application will leverage the inherent security, management capabilities, and efficiency of the BlackBerry platform and the intuitive user experience of BlackBerry smartphones. Organizations that already have the SAP CRM and the BlackBerry solutions deployed will require only basic user training and minimal incremental IT infrastructure investments." Mobile CRM has been around for a long time. Salesforce.com has had a mobile version of its software available for an eternity, as far as the market is concerned. I don't necessarily see this as treading any new ground. The main difference comes with the integrations. In today's press release, Mary Wardley, VP of CRM Applications at IDC, said, "Providing access to and securing broad adoption of enterprise applications with mobile workers has been a pervasive challenge over the years. Most existing solutions require users to learn yet another application and navigation paradigm on their devices, and for IT to manage a complex infrastructure to deploy and support. By having a native application on a BlackBerry smartphone that easily extends functionality but retains the native ease of use, users will find it non-intrusive to adopt applications such as CRM. This is an exciting partnership and definitely has the potential to change the game." This is what will set the application apart from others. For more seamless enterprise functionality, this is the step that vendors need to take. Rather than have Company A make a product that works with Company B's product, the user will be better served if Companies A and B work together for the same purpose. I sat down and watched a demonstration of how Salesforce.com works on a BlackBerry. There's no doubt that the application is useful, but it is a standalone application that simply happens to reside on the BlackBerry. It sends data back and forth over the Internet and updates CRM and SFA info. It will interact with the native BlackBerry applications, but it's not fully integrated into the core BlackBerry apps. This new offering from SAP+RIM is. The real winners will be existing SAP customers. For those who've invested in the software giant's services, this is a way to extend the reach of those services without hunting for an outside solution. The press release even pulls this out as a selling point: "Businesses that have already deployed BlackBerry Enterprise Server and SAP applications can leverage their existing investments and keep deployment and maintenance costs at a minimum." But what of the thousands of corporations that already are using mobile CRM products -- homegrown or otherwise -- on BlackBerrys? What's to convince them that switching to SAP is the right move? Individually, both RIM and SAP have their selling points. Cost, however, will be a major concern for small and medium-sized businesses. RIM's mobile e-mail services may be affordable for even the smallest business, but enterprise software can be pricey. The materials made available to the press today did not include pricing information, but I don't expect this level of integration to come cheaply. High start-up costs will scare away those with shallow pockets. The challenge for RIM and SAP is to keep those costs to a minimum if they want to close new business of their own.
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