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Here's how to get started developing SAP mobile apps

Mobility is becoming a must-have feature of enterprise applications. Developing SAP mobile apps is a lot easier when you have the right tools.

There's a new push to create SAP mobile apps, as it appears that the tidal rush of mobility in the enterprise is inevitable. While just a few years ago the use of mobile devices in the workplace was still somewhat uncommon, this is no longer the case as the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend continues in force. And while previous business uses of mobile devices may have been limited to such simple tasks as checking email, users are now demanding mobile access to more complex and mission-critical business functions.

However, mobilizing ERP systems and data is not quite as simple as slapping a mobile-enhanced front-end on an enterprise application. Workers who have daily experience with the consumer apps on their personal devices want the same thing for their enterprise applications. SAP has been at the forefront of mobilizing ERP systems and this guide provides a starting point for formulating a plan and taking the initial steps to develop SAP mobile apps.

First look at some of the tools that SAP provides for the job. The vendor has a number of preconfigured, out-of-the box applications that companies can distribute to their users as mobile front ends for ERP applications. SAP also has tools that help manage and extend mobile applications. These include SAP Mobile Secure for content security and SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) for application development.

Before beginning a mobility implementation, make sure to fully understand the business processes that underlie the ERP system. Look for "mobile moments" -- situations that are best addressed by SAP mobile apps, which usually occur outside of the enterprise and can involve several systems. Also consider personas -- the types of employees that are most likely to use mobile apps.

It might make sense to follow the model of CA Technologies, which plans to accomplish the task in two, admittedly large, steps. First, the software maker rolled out eight basic mobile apps on the SAP Fiori user experience (UX) in one year. These first apps were "mobile device-friendly Web apps" rather than full-blown mobile applications, according to project leader Rich Lazzara, but they were easy to deploy and offered significant value. For the second phase of the project, CA Technologies is considering using SMP to add true mobile capabilities to its apps, including push notifications and badges to get users to respond. Lazzara said the fact that Fiori is free and relatively easy to implement makes it a good starting point for any company that is considering mobilizing ERP applications.

Next Steps

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