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Mobile computing offers inroads to executives, profit models for SAP customers

Learn how one leading air carrier used mobile computing to engage more deeply with its executive team while creating new revenue streams and profit models.

“Can we make that information available on an iPad?”

It’s one of the most common requests we hear from executives in the systems transformation space, no doubt a confluence of technology and regulations. Call it the “cool factor” or simply a clever way for executives to avoid getting their fingers dirty in corporate regulations; executives have become PC-adverse and mobile-friendly at an alarming rate.

A recent global survey of 363 C-level executives, Digital Megatrends 2015: The Role of Technology in the New Normal Market by Oxford Economics, identified two megatrends that will dramatically affect the workplace of the future: the proliferation of mobile technologies and the increase in cloud computing.

Further confirming this tipping point, respondents to the survey said that mobile technologies, more than any other technology, are more likely to help business over the next five years. ABI Research expects the global market for mobile commerce to reach $163 billion by 2015. Gartner Inc. estimates the global cloud computing market will reach $148.8 billion by 2014 (compared with 2010, when the market was $68.3 billion).

This means one thing for IT project teams: If you want to get your business executives on board with new enterprise software programs, figure out how to render that information on a tablet or smartphone.

Many companies have already shifted to mobile applications for basic back-office functions such as travel and expense approval. One air carrier decided recently to take mobile computing a step further.

Major airline implements mobile strategy

Recently, a major airline client launched a two-pronged digital office strategy to harness both these trends. The airline made a major decision to move to SAP Business Suite in 2005 and had been running the human resources (SAP ERP HCM) and back-office purchasing systems for several years.

First, the IT division spearheaded an effort to host the airline’s critical back-office business applications on remote servers. These business applications were running in the cloud, so employees could access them through any Internet connection. Because the applications could be accessed securely online, the IT division working with human resources launched a “bring your own device,” or BYOD, program. Through it employees could bring their own MacBook Pros, PCs, netbooks, tablet PCs or other preferred devices into the workplace and access the company’s network along with their business applications. This program allows the employees to keep everything on one device, rather than needing to switch between personal and business devices.

One of the initial concerns was the security of corporate information. But the airline’s IT division actually saw a substantial decline in security threats, and the program significantly boosted employee morale and increase productivity. Executives were able to adapt and try new mobile platforms -- such as tablets and smartphones -- and made recommendations back to IT based on preference and usage.

The deployment of the cloud computing strategy and BYOD program was made possible by a strong program management governance model that involved leaders from each of the key business areas. Additionally, embedded in the program was an organizational change and communications plan, which enhanced the rate of adoption among employees.

William Newman is managing principal of Newport Consulting Group, an independent management and technology consulting firm based in Clarkston, Mich. Contact him via email at or follow him on Twitter (@william_newman).

Jesse Jacoby is principal at Newport Consulting Group. His focus is on change leadership and program design and oversight services. Contact him via email at or follow him on Twitter (@JesseJacoby).

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