4realtimeAt SAP, priority is currently given to the cloud, in-memory computing with HANA, and enterprise mobility. Last year the latter has still been something special for SAP, but at the recent SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid, there has been no session or keynote that didn’t notably appreciate the mobile employee.

From a technology perspective everything revolves around the SAP Mobile Platform, that the company wants to concoct from the acquisitions of Sybase (Unwired Platform and Afaria) and Syclo (Agentry) in the first half of 2013. It should then support Windows 8 as well, both from the app development platform and in terms of mobile device management via Afaria. Some Windows 8 apps have already been developed, but are "only" connected via the SAP NetWeaver Gateway, as a support of the Unwired Platform is still pending.

Of course, numerous business apps for all kind of circumstances and business situations are overrunning us right now and the overview is quickly lost. However, from time to time apps are standing out from the crowd, such as augmented reality service apps or mobile applications cases with HANA that at least show quite impressive results.

But to stick to the topic of the month, let’s take a quick look at an SAP solution for the retail sector: SAP’s solution works best for operators of shopping centers, since it can for example track the movements of customers in a shop accurately via the local WiFi. The collected data can then be analyzed in real time, thanks to SAP HANA (InMemory database). Actually it even ensures that it is possible to analyze the gigantic amounts of data with good performance. The shop owners in this way get information on the currently most popular routes or which products got most interest with customers stopping there over a longer time period. In addition, customer profiles can be generated and product placement optimized much more efficiently even, than with a basket-association analysis.

Based on the data predictions can be made where it is most effective to submit an offer to a mobile customer. SAP calls it "precision retailing", when promising vendors a higher conversion rate at the point of sales, a larger shopping basket and an increased cross-selling rate with this specific targeted customers approach in the process of purchase decision.

I find the approach interesting, as the evaluation of BI-operating figures can be done in real time. Besides, the combination of SAP HANA, ad-hoc BI and mobile sales approach is innovative. Nevertheless in my view the practical application poses some problems: For example, the willingness of customers to participate or the costs of SAP HANA. In total, the target group is limited to larger shopping centers or associations of merchants in cities – but that's ultimately not what it is all about, right? It's right now just still exciting to see what really can be achieved with computing power and mobility.

As for many customers the invest in an on-premise installation of SAP Mobile Platform, or its components, is still too high, it should be evaluated as positive that SAP worked together with partners to deliver core products as a cloud service. Although, by now, the cloud and reseller licensing model is quite suitable, the integration into critical IT backend systems still poses challenges for the providers. Finding the right collaborators has therefore right now priority. In any case, mobility on the part of SAP is more than ever seen as a top trend in the coming years - especially in combination with social networks, cloud computing and big data or HANA respectively.
By Daniela la Marca