SAP is looking to grow the number of channel partners who can develop and sell mobile computing solutions around the company's SAP Mobile Platform and Afaria mobile device management software.
SAP Monday debuted a line of mobile applications, including mobile sales and finance software, at its Sapphire Now conference in Orlando, Fla., where SAP executives and partners talked up the mobile computing opportunities for the channel.
"Across all of our mobility products, the channel is going to be critical," said Fawad Zakariya, vice president of mobility partner ecosystems and channels, in an interview at Sapphire Now. "The channel is going to be relevant to every part of our mobile portfolio."
SAP has identified mobile computing as one of its key technology initiatives, along with applications, business analytics, cloud computing and data management.
Systech Integrators, a San Jose, Calif.-based solution provider, has built an extensive mobility business by developing turnkey systems and services around SAP's technology, including mobile applications based on the SAP Business Suite and mobile business intelligence software based on SAP BusinessObjects.
"Mobility is a very big market," said Rajeev Tyagi, Systech's COO, in an interview at Sapphire Now. "That's where we're spending all of our strategic dollars."
Afaria and SAP Mobile Platform make up the core of SAP's mobility offerings today. Partners resell Afaria to customers large and small to help them manage the growing number -- and diversity -- of mobile devices employees are bringing to work. ISVs and solution providers use the SAP Mobile Platform, formerly known as the Sybase Unwired Platform, to develop and manage mobile applications for customers.
RJT Compuquest, an SAP partner based in Irvine, Calif., also sees mobility as a promising market. Many clients are in the early stages of developing their mobile strategies, said Vice President Alan Gaddis in an interview at Sapphire Now, and that's presenting opportunities for solution providers.
SAP also offers prebuilt mobile applications through the channel. The new applications unveiled Monday include SAP Customer Briefing for sales executives, SAP Travel Expense Report, and several mobile commerce applications including Sybase 365 Mobile Banking, Sybase 365 Mobile Payments and Sybase 365 Mobile Money.
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While some partners have a thriving business reselling Afaria, SAP's Zakariya sees the SAP Mobile Platform as the greater long-term opportunity because of its potential to help solution providers develop services and recurring revenue streams around them. "We see that as an interesting channel play and money-maker down the line," he said.
Today most of the 60 or so partners who work with Afaria and SAP Mobile Platform are also resellers of SAP's All-in-One application suite for midsize businesses. "We expect that mix to change considerably over time," Zakariya said, noting that SAP will be recruiting more partners whose primary business is mobile computing, especially for midmarket customers.
The SAP Mobile Platform includes its own software development kit. But last month SAP announced agreements with Adobe, Appcelerator and Sencha under which developers could build mobile applications using those vendor's tools and run them on the SAP platform.
Last month SAP also said it would acquire Syclo, a provider of enterprise mobile applications and technologies, including mobile asset management and field service applications. While those products eventually will become part of the mobile computing solution offered through the channel, Zakariya said those plans are still in the early stage.