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Podcast: Sybase Sees Mobile Enterprise Tornado

We're in the midst of a mobile enterprise tornado, Terry Stepien, president of Sybase iAnywhere, told me when we did our podcast the other day. (Actually, it's a perfect storm.) Used to be, companies would dole out smartphones to anointed employees. Now, workers are storming the IT gates, demanding corporate e-mail connectivity for their iPhones. And software vendors are partnering up with mobility shops to roll out smartphone clients for their apps. Click on to hear our podcast.
We're in the midst of a mobile enterprise tornado, Terry Stepien, president of Sybase iAnywhere, told me when we did our podcast the other day. (Actually, it's a perfect storm.) Used to be, companies would dole out smartphones to anointed employees. Now, workers are storming the IT gates, demanding corporate e-mail connectivity for their iPhones. And software vendors are partnering up with mobility shops to roll out smartphone clients for their apps. Click on to hear our podcast.The top-line message, says Mark Wilson, Sybase's vice president of corporate marketing, is that enterprise mobility is happening: "Even in a tough economy, more people are looking to add value to their existing infrastructure, by giving it to their employees, allowing them to have it on their hips."

Along with Stepien and Wilson, I was joined for the podcast by Marty Beard, president of Sybase 365 Mobile Services. You can click the tiny play button to hear the Sybase podcast.

Of course, Sybase isn't a disinterested observer here. It's building up a huge business as the enabler for enterprise software vendors (recent partnership with SAP), IT service organizations (just-announced partnership with Samsung SDS), and, ultimately individual enterprises themselves, which want to mobilize their apps.

I asked the trio if Sybase intended to become a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to develop a mobile app. Seems like it. Says Stepien: "We are creating a mobility platform, called our Sybase Unwired Platform, that will enable developers -- both ISVs and developers inside the data center -- to create their mobile apps, whether it be [new] mobile apps or extensions of their business processes."

Sybase is aiming its Sybase Unwired Platform at this market. The platform is both a development and deployment vehicle, enabling the creation of mobile clients for back-end enterprise apps. Unwired will also enable developers to push their apps out in today's heterogeneous smartphone world. This is important because a big challenge for anybody who wants to create a smartphone client is that you have to do multiple ports. Right now there are four main platforms -- BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian and Windows Mobile -- and a fifth emerging target in the form of Android.

Interestingly, Sybase recognizes that, long term, the biggest bang for the buck in selling platform support can come from melding its development and middleware expertise with outside partners who have domain expertise in different vertical industries. "We would envision that, as these applications are created, there would be a number of partners that bring domain expertise into the particular vertical where they are working," Stepien said. "Whether it be healthcare, manufacturing, or logistics. We are looking to partner with those different vendors to bring their solutions on[to] a unified platform that is easier to administer for the data center."

OK, let's bounce around now to some other topics we covered during the 'cast.

On The Mobile Wallet

"We're clearly going to start seeing the mobile device storing value," said Beard. "By that I mean, you're now using your device to purchase digital goods and services. You might be using your device to purchase physical goods and services, just like you do today using your wallet. [Not so much in the United States-ed.] You might actually transfer value from your device to another mobile device. All of these use-cases are happening right now in various markets worldwide."

See my recent post, Sybase Says: Smartphone Is Your Mobile Wallet, for more.

On Mobile Messaging

Did you know that multimedia messaging (MMS) is the new front line in mobile commerce? I didn't. Beard explains that it's a way to interact with your customers via smartphones, by pushing out both text and pictures. So for example a hotel chain could show you your room. Or an airline could ping you with a mobile boarding pass.

Stepping back to plain old text messaging, Beard says SMS is exploding as a means for businesses to communicate with their customers. "This has moved well beyond a consumer phenomenon," he says. "It's becoming much more of an enterprise phenomenon. Companies are using SMS as a very efficient way to get out information to their customers. For example, banks sending out account information."

About That Tornado

OK, so here's the full quote I teased at the top, where Stepien talked about that mobile tornado. (It's a good tornado, though.)

"We've got the consumer tornado, where we've got many, many data-enabled devices entering into the enterprise, and changing the way the IT department needs to think about [them]," said Stepien. "The second area is the growing together of computing with collaboration and communication. And then the final area is that the IT department is now looking to enable the knowledge worker. These create the three ingredients for the mobile-enterprise tornado."

Once again, to hear the podcast, open the floating player on the lower left, or click the tiny play button to hear the Sybase podcast.

For a related post, see Video: SAP's McDermott On Mobility, SaaS, & Business Intelligence.

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 My videos on ( YouTube)  Facebook    LinkedIn Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.

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