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SAP CIO: It's Always Bring Your Smartphone To Work Day

In an interview at CES, Oliver Bussmann explains why SAP gave the green light to personal iPhones, iPads and Samsung Android-based devices in the corporate environment.

"The line between the consumer world and the corporate world is fading," Bussmann said. "We're watching consumer devices flood the office space -- iPads, iPhones, Android devices. They're everywhere. And we need to empower our employees to have a mobile mind-set instead of trying to keep these devices out."

Bussmann, who is participating on a panel at CES Wednesday called "The Consumerization Of IT: How Consumer Innovation Is Influencing Business," spoke with CRN about how his company decided to embrace the explosion of personal mobile devices.

Bussmann said SAP recently authorized Samsung's Android-based smartphones and tablets as corporate devices; the software maker had previously given the green light to the iPhone and iPad.

"We worked very hard with Samsung to make sure their Android devices like the Galaxy Tab were secure and ready for our corporate environment," he said. "We implemented antimalware and security features on the devices, which is an extra step compared to iOS devices."

Despite recent security concerns about the Android platform and the rise in mobile malware, Bussmann said Android devices are growing rapidly and will make their way into the office environment with or without SAP's blessing. So it's better to accept Android and take the necessary steps to secure them, he said.

"Android devices will play a big role in the corporate environment this year," Bussmann said. "It's getting close to iOS."

Currently, Samsung's products are the only Android devices authorized for corporate use. "The Android market is very fragmented," he said. "Samsung is the most advanced of the Android manufacturers. Their devices are enterprise-ready."

Does using Android and iOS mobile devices in an office environment dominated by Windows pose a challenge? Bussmann said most applications today have been built to support multiple platforms, so software integration doesn't present a problem. Oddly enough, it's document integration and compatibility that cause the biggest headaches.

Applications, on the other hand, are helping to drive the mobility movement in the corporate world. "The explosion of mobile apps will begin to take hold in the enterprise," he said. "We see this a lot in our own offices. We have mobile business intelligence, analytics and CRM apps now."

Even with Android and iOS already in the fold, SAP isn't going to ignore Microsoft and Windows 8. Bussmann said he's looking forward to Microsoft's newest OS on tablets, adding that SAP was an early adopter with Windows 7 and expects that to continue with Windows 8. "I think Microsoft has a good chance for success with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7, too," he said.

As more SAP employees become mobile with their own personal devices, Bussmann said he expects SAP to put a great emphasis on cloud computing to enhance the mobile experience. "I'm pretty sure the hybrid cloud model is going to take off in the corporate world," he said. "We see cloud services for consumers like Apple's iCloud and we want to bring that to our employees. Because now we know they're going to use it anyway, and that's how consumers are driving the changes in IT."

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