This blog is just a random thought of how mobility truly increases productivity. I have been in SAP Mobility area for 8 years now (starting from MI to NW Mobile/ DOE, SUP) and I often wondered how mobility increases productivity of people. If you come to think of it, its like switching from the paper based era to PC era for performing tasks. so there you go Viola you have the answer to that question. But some times you really need a more personal story to embrace and truly believe that Mobility is here to stay and more and more people will adopt it to perform tasks and increase their productivity. Below are 2 personal stories that help confirm this fact.

If you have ever lived in Sydney you will know how difficult it is to get a place to live. (obvious market reasons less supply more demand & to top it if you have specific requirements then it gets harder) Every Unit/House/Apartment is open for 15 minutes of inspection (usually on Wednesday & Sundays) and you need to see the place and apply with all the necessary documents and depending on whether the landlord likes the application or not you get the place. To top this its even tougher if you don't have a rental history (which was the case with me as I was new to Sydney).

So one Saturday (the inspection day) I  made a list of all the places available for inspection and went to see them. I saved all this in my iPhone calendar with details of which train to take and the directions to see the place (of course using maps on the iPhone).  I soon realized that I finished some inspections earlier than expected and had time to see other places. Luckily for me I had a mobile app which helped me look up places available for inspection and because I could see this data in real time and on the go I was able to reschedule my plan dynamically and be more productive and see more places than initially planned. Now imagine the above situation without a smart phone and a mobile application. In which case I would have a plan and would have to stick with it and might have missed out on opportunities to see more places. You bet I am hell a lot more productive with the mobile application available.

I recently joined a runners group in Sydney. After the run we went for a beer. I was casually chatting up with a Geologist and he mentioned that he uses the SAP applications a lot especially for  Purchase Request & Approval. He wished that he had a mobile app to complete this process as that would entail him to be more productive to raise request and approve them there by giving him more time to focus on his core tasks which was trying to find Copper Ore . Its fascinating to be able to relate to how Mobility is increasingly helping people become more productive. I had the privilege of experiencing this first hand and also from the experiences of others.

I have met a few customers and often I see a lot of reluctance in adopting to Mobility, some of them want to take a wait and watch approach. All of them are valid and have reasons. However I strongly believe that the time has come to adopt Mobility and we will see more and more people using mobile devices to perform tasks. Mobility is here to stay, it will help make people more productive.

PS: Though its hard to find a place in Sydney eventually you will find one so stay put and keep trying. I found one after a month

Did you know that you can consume Business Objects Dashboards (formerly xCelsius) on the BlackBerry PlayBook today?  Flash has been an integral part of the PlayBook from launch.  Flash is also part of the core experience of BOBJ Dashboards that gives it a compelling visual style.  Because of this, you can actually load BOBJ dashboards from the browser on your PlayBook today.  For example, try this site http://experience.sap.com/baseball/pbp.html on your PlayBook browser:

playbook2.png

Great, I can just use what I have and I’m all done…. not so fast!  While the flash experience on the PlayBook and a desktop are almost identical, in practice, there are some differences you want to be aware of and in some cases, take advantage of.

Form Factor

The first thing you should take into account is the form factor.   The PlayBook (like many, or even most laptops and monitors these days) is widescreen.  In the example above you can see grey bars on either side of the dashboard, because the original design was made for a standard 4:3 ratio monitor, not the 16:9 widescreen.  Take advantage and use that space.

Second, the screen resolution is quite high, at 1024*600, but at 7 inches, this is quite a step down from a 21 inch desktop monitor, or even a 14 inch laptop.   Consequently font type and size should be checked for legibility on this smaller screen.  A good default is Myriad as the preferred font, with normal text 21 pixels and titles at 36 pixels.

Third, your dashboard users will be using a finger not a tiny mouse pointer to select clickable areas. Make sure you leave enough spacing around each screen element so that relatively broad finger can click accurately. A good default is a 15 pixel margin around UI components and a 5.5 mm target area (and of course, you’re using the bigger fonts we mentioned above, right?).

Touch Interface and UI Components

While font and margin choices help considerably in a great tablet experience, you should also make careful choices around UI components.  If you are designing for touch, remember that the user will be interacting with a single finger, no mouse (or right click on a mouse) or multi key click abilities are possible.

Don’t use:

Components that you want to avoid are Dials, Gauges, Radio Button (single) and Dropdown Lists.  All of these components don’t perform as you might expect when using a finger rather than a mouse.  Dropdown lists components are difficult to maneuver on a touch interface.  List Builder components take too much screen real estate. Scrollbars also take up too much real estate and are difficult to navigate.

Recommended:

Mobile - List component,

Big Buttons,

Use label base menus for navigation

Use Large Radio Buttons (Big radio buttons allows the user easily make selections on a tablet).

Design for Mobile

As simple as it can be to take an existing dashboard and tweak it for PlayBook, with some additional planning you can make an even more compelling experience.  Mobile should be a unique experience, not simply an extension of the desktop.  Mobile design at its best is lightweight, immediate and quick, where desktop design tends towards heavyweight, regular and analytical.  A mobile user will love to get quick data hits while on the move. Save the data intensive, heavy weight, analytical reports for time at your desk. 

Online versus offline access is a key decision point in the early design process.  If you’re going to look at current online info, the PlayBook browser is a full featured html 5 webkit browser with Flash, use it!  If you need offline access, or just want to be able to look at report without having to be online, you can store your dashboard .swf files right on to the PlayBook.  You can open a .swf file from the browser, or if you are familiar with Air, you can package your reports as an Air app and deploy it directly to your PlayBook.

Here is an example of dashboard with large clear fonts, good UI component choices/large buttons, its wide screen, and (you can’t tell from a picture) it’s loaded directly as a swf file on the PlayBook.

dashboard.jpg

Security and Management

Lastly, how do you manage and deploy all these reports?  Dashboards can be some of the most confidential information you disseminate.

Fortunately BlackBerry has this figured out as well.  BlackBerry Mobile Fusion is an Enterprise grade MDM that when paired with PlayBook offers up 2 key attributes for a BOBJ solution.

VPN – with a PlayBook paired to Fusion, a secure tunnel is enabled (similar to the same experience you get with a BlackBerry smartphone today).  If you connect using the browser to your BOBJ site, then you can see the same reports while on the road, that you would see when in the office.  

Balance – this feature of the PlayBook shows up when it’s activated on a Fusion server.  This allows the PlayBook to have a personal and corporate perimeter.  Any files, like your swf files for example, stored on the corporate perimeter are secure. If your device gets lost you can contact your BlackBerry administrator and they can remotely erase the corporate perimeter for you.

If you would like more info, please check the BlackBerry site www.blackberry.com/mobilefusion.

Lastly

Check out this Mobile BI minute.

As promised...here's another of my experiments with SMP...this time, I wanted to something more interesting and more complex...something that really gave me an SMP experience...so I took something that I build a long time ago by using PHP and SAP...I'm talking about an SBWP aka. SAP Mail emulation.

Of course, I needed to go back to my ABAP roots and build some RFC enabled function modules.

(The code is a little bit long, so I will upload it along with the SMP code to Code Exchange )

With that ready...we can start doing some SMP business...first, let me show the Model.

SBWP_Model.png

It's really easier than it looks

As we have 4 function modules, we create 4 MBO's (Business Model Objects) and we link two of them...the Titles with the Details...

SBWP_Diagram.png

We need to establish a relation between Titles and Details, because we're going to have a screen with the Titles and for each one, we're going to show it's detail.

SBWP_Relationship.png

SBWP_Relationship_Graph.png

It's very important to define the Personalization keys, as they are going to pass as parameters for the MBO's.

SBWP_Tree.png

This is the Personalization for the Send Mail MBO.

Send_Mail_Personalization.png

With all that explanation, we can take a look at the demo, which is running on a BlackBerry emulator.

SBW_Demo_001.png

SBW_Demo_002.png

SBW_Demo_003.png

SBW_Demo_004.png

SBW_Demo_005.png

SBW_Demo_006.png

As we can see, we can do everything that we could do on the SBWP transaction...but as always I have a little bug...when the Reply window comes out, the "To:" should be filled, however, I haven't been able to do it yet...after all...SMP is a new technology, and we're all learning how to use it

The iOS and Android platforms have brought the power of mobile apps to millions of consumers. A side effect of this revolution is the pressure on CIOs to launch consumer mobile service apps over and above the pressure to mobilize their existing employees. The temptation is to just quickly build an app instead of comprehensively thinking about a consumer mobile service.

 

Angry Birds is a fantastic app, full of sizzle. However, if it were to stop working, there is no phone number to call and you are on your own researching the Internet to find possible causes of failure. (Angry Birds is great, and thankfully, it doesn’t seem to ever stop working!)

 

Now compare that to the eBay mobile app. You have all the power of eBay within the app. You can bid, be notified and make purchases. The app may not have the sizzle of Angry Birds, but it has all the muscle of eBay’s platform behind it.

 

This is an important distinction for enterprises to consider as they launch mobile consumer services. Consumers want sizzle, but the service needs to also have the muscle to support the large number of users that may end up using it. Sizzle without muscle invariably fizzles.

 

Let’s say a utility company wants to improve its customer engagement and goes down the path of launching an app that provides information on outages. The company plans for 30,000 concurrent users, which is adequate for normal outages. Then, in comes a hurricane, which brings over a million users to the mobile service over an extended period of time. The company faces a dilemma:  Does it change its hardware plan to accommodate such outlying peaks in capacity, design the system to scale automatically, or switch to alternate means of getting the message out (such as radio, TV, email and social media) in extreme circumstances? These are all good questions to ponder apart from the app itself, which brings me to the core requirements of launching a consumer mobile service.

 

When thinking of a mobile consumer service, consider how to:
  •     Handle multiple mobile channels, including smartphone apps, mobile web, SMS, USSD, etc.
  •     Scale from hundreds of thousands to millions of users.
  •     Execute channel-specific and other relevant business logic in the mid-tier, separate from existing applications.
  •     Support via Web channel customer self care, self-registration, customer support portals, etc.
  •     Provide standards-based mechanisms to connect to backend systems.

 

Taking this larger view makes it clear that the app on the phone is really the tip of the iceberg when launching a mobile consumer service.

 

Sybase has a history of successfully launching mobile consumer services for clients that include QTel Mobile Money, DBBL Mobile Money, Celcom Aircash, and MyClear MyMobile.

 

We’ve just announced that a new version of the platform used to build and run these services will ship at the end of March. It includes new capabilities that make it easier to build applications for SMS/USSD and tools to build apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry and mobile Web. It comes pre-built with a series of use cases that support the common functions of account management, P2P transfer of airtime and money, international remittance, airtime top-up, bill pay and transfers. In addition, it has pre-built portals to manage customer registration, self-care and support, merchant registration, self-care and support, agent hierarchy, dashboard for operations and more. In short, it provides all the capabilities that provide both the sizzle and the muscle required for a successful mobile consumer service.

 

Consider: it’s not just the banks and telcos launching mobile consumer service apps. Companies in almost every industry, including utilities, retail, consumer products, oil and gas, are launching mobile applications for consumers. In many cases, the aim is to improve customer engagement and interact directly with end customers—sometimes for the first time, as many types of companies have not traditionally had that ability. For example, consumer products companies predominantly deal with distributors and not with end customers. With a mobile application, however, they can engage with their customers and collect data that can help with product planning.

 

The requirements I listed above are common across all industries considering a mobile service for consumers. The key is not getting trapped in the pressures of launching an app without thinking about it in the context of a mobile consumer service. And for this, I recommend a platform that provides the sizzle for excitement and the muscle for building reliable applications that can scale to meet consumer demand.

Hi All ,

 

Please help me out on particular issue as there is custom table which is getting updated by custom program and in table fields SERNR serial No which content is preceding with Zeros like serial field content is ' 00000000034276453 ' so in this these zeros are preceding my analysis say that I should extend the range od field in below code to avoid preceding Zeros.

 

WHEN gc_sernr.
            wa_sernr-sign    = gc_i.
            IF <fs_key_value>-value CA gc_asterisk.
              wa_sernr-option  = gc_cp.
            ELSE.
              wa_sernr-option  = gc_eq.
            ENDIF.
            wa_sernr-low     = <fs_key_value>-value.
            APPEND wa_sernr TO ir_sernr.

This is part II of this series.

Six years ago, I had an opportunity to attend a Gartner Mobile & Wireless Summit that was held in Detroit from March 26 – March 29 2006. During the summit I also took some notes, which were written at the time so I could share with my colleagues back at Coke.  

Well, I recently discovered those notes in my archive and found it very interesting to just look back and see what the analysts were saying at the time and how things have changed in the past 6 years. 

These are unedited notes and hoping just like me you would find them interesting.

As you read it, please remember this is from 2006 when most people in the Industry were probably not even dreaming of something like iPhone and iPad.

RFID

  1. 5c RFID tag is a myth. Prices may come down to 15 to 20c by 2009.
  2. Before selecting an RFID technology vendor, make sure they have some kind of patent licensing arrangement with Intermec.
  3. The RFID readers still cannot reliably read an arbitrary no of tags without a clear line of sight and you will see a little improvement before 2009.

 

Mobile DBMS

  1. Among the top four: Sybase, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle; Sybase offers a most complete and mature solution followed by IBM and Microsoft. Oracle Lite is not a priority for Oracle at this time, which could be due to their focus elsewhere such as the Data warehouse.
  2. Sybase remains a leader but Gartner is not sure for how long. Both IBM and Microsoft (Windows only) with their big wallet are catching up fast.
  3. It is highly recommended to use a real DBMS to store data on the device. Avoid Open Source databases for device and stay with established technology vendor (IBM, MS etc) as the technology is still at early stages of maturity. Open Source may be a viable option for backend database though.
  4. Data Synchronization remains the single most important differentiator for mobile DBMS and accordingly for the mobile application. They recommend keeping the mobile architecture and data synchronization simple.
  5. By 2010, Linux with Windows will dominate for backend DBMS (you will not be able to avoid Linux at backend). Unstructured data such as XML and JPEG will be stored and searchable in database; traditional data will shrink.

Mobile Architecture

  1. Sybase and IBM remain two leading technology vendors.
  2. SAP NW – Not sure how much SAP will open up to other vendors. Connectivity to non-SAP systems remain a struggle.
  3. Mobile Frame and Antenna are promising.
  4. Microsoft and SAP are investing heavily in mobile space.
  5. .NET is becoming stronger than ever over Java. It is growing like a cloud.
  6. Research in Motion (Blackberry) provides best wireless security in the mobile space.
  7. Continued push towards thick client applications primarily due to wireless coverage issues.
  8. Open Source – Huge investments are happening, but it is being used mostly for the low level consumer applications.
  9. Continued push towards thick client applications primarily due to wireless coverage issues

 

Wi-Fi Alliance

  1. Wi-Fi hot spots will cover 126,000 sq miles by 2010 compared to 1500 in 2005
  2. Consider 802.11b/g for mission critical handhelds and 802.11a (5 GHz) for laptops. (There was another analyst who also recommended reserving 802.11a for laptops)
  3. 802.11n standards – IEEE ratification is expected in Q4 2007 followed immediately by commercial products release. 802.11n will offer 150-600 Mbps data rate (compare with 11mbps of 802.11b) with improved performance, range and power save capabilities. It will use the existing 2.4GHz and 5 GHz spectrum.
  4. 802.16e (Wide Area Broadband Access) is just getting started and is a space to watch.
  5. 802.11b alone is now history and multiple radios will coexist.

Part-I of this series can be found here http://scn.sap.com/community/mobile/blog/2012/03/17/notes-from-bygone-era

(Please do share your opinion on how things have changed and don't forget to rate/like this post…)

Earlier this year I analysed the state of SAP’s available mobile apps on the new SAP mobile app store.  One of the challenges I highlighted was the infrastructure demands for the mobile middleware.  I believed that if mobile middleware components such as Sybase Unwired Platform and Afaria as well as apps could be available as a Software as a Service (SaaS) / Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering, this would solve one hurdle for customers looking to adopt the platform.  This idea is not new.  In my research for this blog I found that SAP Mentor Richard Hirsch also mentioned this possibility in an earlier blog (see his Option 3).

Thinking about it more carefully in recent times, I am even more convinced about this.  Here are 7 reasons why … 

  1. A mobile abstraction layer such as Sybase Unwired Platform and Afaria needs to evolve quickly to keep pace with the rapid evolution of new mobile client platforms, SDKs and handsets.  And this rate of evolution is significantly faster than the pace of traditional on-premise enterprise platforms.   This also means frequent upgrades, patches, etc. to keep up with the latest new mobile device, operating system, etc. By way of example in the past few months we have seen SUP move from version 2.1 to 2.1.1 to 2.1.2.  And if we believe in the concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), then the timing of upgrades to the mobile abstraction layer will be driven moreso by end users (eg. to support the latest OS versions) rather than by the IT department.  This level of constant ‘up keep’ is something many customers I believe would much prefer to see delivered as a managed service.  
  2. The availability of this mobile middleware layer as a PaaS removes the burden on customers to justify capital spend to commission on-premise middleware.  In this situation customers wouldn’t need to ‘bet the farm’ on purchasing a heavy weight on-premise solution, but rather can take advantage of low barriers to entry with a PaaS offering.  Customers can then attain easy access to SAP's app store apps, using the PaaS as a runtime platform.  And after using the solution if in future it doesn’t suit customers’ needs, they can find alternatives without needing to decommission systems and hardware.
  3. If we assume that a PaaS provides for more transparency in pricing, then customers will be more readily able to formulate a business case for adopting the service.  This blog by SAP Mentor Kevin Bennedict outlines the challenges faced by customers encountering licensing obfuscation currently.  In an ideal world, the PaaS / SaaS offering would bundle pricing for use of specific apps into a transparent per month / per user charge, inclusive of licensing for SUP, Afaria, and invocations through NetWeaver Gateway. In a perfect world, it would all be free.
  4. Availability of this mobile middleware in the cloud also brings more access to developers, insofar as developers don’t need to source their own local installation of the middleware.  A more engaged developer community brings with it the natural benefits of powering the app store through scale.  I know Dennis Howlett and others have been sending this message to SAP for quite a while.  To be fair, SAP’s SUP Developer Center when made available to the public will help address the skills and access issues.  Interestingly the new SUP Developer Center itself provides developers with their own SUP image hosted on CloudShare rather than using a shared instance.
  5. Mobile platforms hosted in the cloud have a natural advantage insofar as the internet connectivity to handsets can be made available ‘out of the box’.  To some degree this is also why cloud SaaS solutions (including SAP’s) have been able to offer mobile apps so readily (an example is SAP StreamWork).  Of course, organisations would still need to figure out how to connect their on-premise SAP systems securely to the mobile middleware layer.
  6. Mobile Consumer Application Platforms (MCAP) in my opinion belong in the cloud, where they can scale more readily for the consumer populations.  To the extent that SAP has outlined an intent to one day bring together its Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) which is based on Sybase Unwired Platform, and its MCAP platform, this in my mind places the unified platform in the cloud.
  7. Competitive pressures from some cloud-based mobile platform vendors may force SAP to move its platform to the cloud.  There are already mobile platform vendors that operate cloud-based platforms, whether for enabling mobile apps or for managing them.  The allure for customers of these types of platforms is high, when the licensing is clear and transparent, and barriers to entry are low.  To be fair, some SAP partners have seen this opportunity and are working to establish this SaaS / PaaS offering for SUP / Afaria themselves.  My hope is that these offerings will be successful and can achieve the scale needed to provide customers with a cost-effective avenue to kick-start their enterprise mobility ambitions.

 

One thing I haven't considered is what technical or architectural limitations there might be with hosting SUP / Afaria in the cloud.  There are references to multi-tenant support in the SUP manuals, but I'm no expert in the area of on-demand systems. 

In any case, I hope that my reasoning has some merit.  Tell me, do you see value in the mobile platform in the cloud?

Late last year I watched a Gartner presentation which introduced me to the concept of Pace Layering.  Via a little research on the web I learned that this is an architectural design principle which has earlier application in the building industry (also termed ‘shearing layers’).  In the context of buildings, the idea is that you architect different layers of change, which each layer evolving at a different pace. So for instance, an underlying building structure may last for decades, whereas the internal walls, ceilings and doors might be changed with renovations, and finally the furniture and appliances will be continuously updated.  The strength of a good pace layered architecture is that the layers are loosely coupled enough to allow movement and evolution of the faster layers without compromising the slower ones. 

I may be late to this concept, as analysts such as Dennis Howlett were across it years ago it seems. I may not have the smarts to be an analyst, but this doesn’t stop me sharing my opinions on the applicability of this concept to SAP’s current mobility strategy and architecture. Recently I presented my perspectives on mobility via Skype to a small group of people from the Danish IT Group (organised by SAP Mentor Daniel Graverson).  One slide that attracted much interest and discussion was this …

PaceLayeringSlide.png 

If you wish to see the full presentation, you can find it here

In the diagram above I illustrate what I perceive as various relevant layers in SAP’s current mobile architecture (for apps based in Sybase).

 

Mobile UI technologies, SDKs & Devices

In reality you could break these into separate layers, but for convenience I have combined them.  The point being that the pace of evolution in this space is currently FAST.  This includes (for instance) the continued evolution of client platforms such as iOS and Android, the introduction this year of Windows 8, etc.  We also see continued rapid evolution in HTML5 frameworks such as jQuery Mobile, Sencha and others.  And from a device standpoint we all know that new handsets and tablets are continually being released. 

 

Mobile Abstraction and Management Middleware

This is the layer where I would place Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP), and Afaria from a device management perspective.  I will focus more specifically here on SUP. In its current form SUP needs to support specific client platforms (and releases for those platforms).  This is because it has the ability to generate baseline native code for those platforms (such as iOS).  Looking at it that way, it is far from ‘loosely coupled’ from the layer above.  But it serves to protect the layers below from the rapid pace of evolution in mobile client technologies. To stay relevant it will need to keep pace with the evolution of the client layer.  So for instance as new client platforms such as Windows 8 are released, the Sybase product management team will need to work hard adapting SUP to support it.

 

REST Enablement

REST-based APIs are proliferating on the internet partly because they are simple, and lean. SAP has introduced SAP NetWeaver Gateway as its own REST-enablement layer for the Business Suite.  From a pace layering perspective, Gateway offers excellent opportunity to de-couple the Business Suite from the faster paced evolution in UI and mobile technologies.  As long as technologies can consume or interact with the OData-based APIs from Gateway, this will protect investments in the Business Suite.  To illustrate, even today you can chop and change the UI technology interacting with Gateway (eg. change from a native iOS app to a native Android app to using a web framework such as SAPUI5), with no underlying impact on the Business Suite.

 

Core SAP

Although the SAP HANA team would disagree, core ERP systems like SAP are no longer evolving at the same rate as they did over a decade ago. They have simply reached a higher level of maturity.  As an example, we know that SAP has extended support for ERP 6.0 and Business Suite 7 through to 2020.

 

 

In my next blog, I will consider the implications of the mobile abstraction and management layer needing to ‘keep up’ with the fast-paced evolution in mobile client technologies.

Six years ago, I had an opportunity to attend a Gartner Mobile & Wireless Summit that was held in Detroit from March 26 – March 29 2006. During the summit I also took some notes, which were written at the time so I could share with my colleagues back at Coke.  

Well, I recently discovered those notes in my archive and found it very interesting to just look back and see what the analysts were saying at the time and how things have turned out over the past 6 years. 

I will be sharing these notes in two parts - unedited - and hoping you would find them interesting too.

As you read it, please keep in mind this is from 2006 when most people in the Industry were probably not even dreaming of something like iPhone and iPad.

Trends and Recommendations

  1. Mobile & Wireless space will remain dynamic for many more years. One Analyst described it as his 13 year old daughter whose most exciting times are yet to come.
  2. Smart Phones will sell for under $120 by 2009 opening new opportunities for Corporations in future as serious Mobile applications could be developed for smart phones.
  3. Corporate wireless email will play more strategic role and should be looked accordingly than simply being an executive toy.
  4. 802.11a/b/g/n will remain a key short-to-medium range wireless technology in near future
  5. Platforms (such as Microsoft Windows Mobile or fast emerging Nokia S60) remain more important for the Enterprise than the device manufacturer.
  6. Collaboration using mobile technologies will increase. Gartner recommended start identifying opportunities for mobile collaboration and messaging.
  7. There is a significant mismatch between what the mobile operators (Cingular and Verizon) are delivering and what the consumers really want, e.g. mobile TV on a cell phone.
  8. Price premium on tablet pc is declining and it should be seriously considered for mobile workers who are currently using a laptop. Unlike laptop, tablet offers no physical barrier between you and the customer, e.g. while taking an order.
  9. Currently, it’s a bad idea to buy a PC with a built in 3G wireless chip (such as Verizon EV-DO) as it will soon become obsolete when new technologies arrive.
  10. For mission critical enterprise applications, stay with rugged devices. One analyst said he has often seen clients who chose consumer devices (iPaq over Symbol) come to him with tail between their legs.
  11. Emergence of color 2D barcodes capable of storing enough information to play a small video.
  12. Need for mobility (applications, collaboration etc) will make IT matter more.
  13. Focus in 2006 will be on user experience.

 

Part-II will focus on mobile architecture, mobile databases, OS, Wireless and RFID.

(Please do share your Comments/Questions on how things have turned out and Rate/Like this post)

If you know me...you know I love to build blog series...but this time, I'm not going to talk about PHP, Ruby or Python. I'm going to talk about SMP and what can we do with it. Of course, being this my first blog on the matter, I will start with a very basic program, that will read a public web service and return us some information back.

First off all...I gotta admit that I based myself on the great video series created by my friend and team mate Ingo Sauerzapf.

For this blog, I'm using the Developer Center for SMP. So the first thing is to open some application in order: Start Sybase Unwired Platform, MD5, 9800, Sybase Control Center and Sybase Unwired WorkSpace.

 

SUP_Weather_00.png

 

When we log into the Sybase Control Center, we must create a user for our application.

SUP_Weather_01.png

 

After we have created our user, we can move to the BlackBerry emulator and choose the "Workflow" application. Which is going to be of course empty, so we need to configure it by going to it's settings.

 

SUP_Weather_02.png

 

We're using the same User Name and Activation Code that we used on the Sybase Control Center. Next step is to open the Sybase Unwired WorkSpace and create a new Mobile Application Project and call it "Weather_Convertion". (I know...I have a typo...should be Conversion...but I have all the pictures taken, so you guys corrected when creating your applications).

 

We must create an Mobile Business Object and name it "Weather_Object".

SUP_Weather_013.png

As we're going to use a Web Service, we need to choose it as the Data Source and create a Profile for it, which is basically provide the Web Service to use. We're going to use this one: http://www.w3schools.com/webservices/tempconvert.asmx?WSDL It's important that we change the default String value on the Attributes Mapping to (3)...because 100 it's just too much

Next step is to create a Personalization Key which we will call CelsiusPK.

SUP_Weather_018.png

On our Mobile Business Object, we should go to the attributes, and then load arguments to establish the personalization key we just created.

SUP_Weather_019.png

After that, a simple right click to Deploy Project would be more than enough.

SUP_Weather_022.png

We're now ready for the next step, which should be the "GUI" to call it in a way...let's create a Mobile Workflow Forms Editor object and call it Weather_Convertion (Again...sorry for the typo), here it's important to check the first checkbox, which will state that our application can be started on demand. When everything is ready, we need drag and drop our Weather_Object into our Form Editor environment.

SUP_Weather_025.png

We it's done, we can double click on the "Start Screen" and add a Menu Item with the name "Get Fahrenheit", with the following options.

 

SUP_Weather_03.png

SUP_Weather_026.png

We need to link this to our Weather_Object, so let's search it and call it's query operation. Also we can Generate an error screen and set the default success screen, which is the screen which should be shown is everything went right.

SUP_Weather_027.png

It's very important to go to the Personalization Key Mapping and link the Personalization Key with the Object Key.

SUP_Weather_029.png

With that set...we can right click and call the "Generate Mobile Workflow Package...". And we can even assign our application to work only for certain users.

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Without a single line of code, we can test our little application and confirm that it's working just fine...

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I hope you liked this first blog, even when it's really basic...I promise that my next blog is going to be really nice...might take me a while, as it's not easy, but I'm sure it's going to be something worth to wait for

In the consumer driven world of mobile computing, it goes without saying that not only the chatter around BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is on the rise but that it is also driving profound changes within organizations around the world. Even the US Federal Government is paying serious attention to this trend as a potential cost saving measure.

 

If employees are willing to buy a device and use it for work, so be it.

 

However, there is one sector of the economy and not just any sector but the trillion dollar US defense sector where a small device could spell doom for BYOD even before it can take roots.

 

The Common Access Card (CAC), a DoD issued smart card about the size of a credit card, is the standard photo identification for active-duty military personnel, selected reserve, DoD civilian employees, and eligible contractor personnel.

CAC card

The CAC, which comes with a built-in micro chip that stores a PKI security certificate, is also the principal authentication mechanism to enable access to defense computer networks and systems. Just like an ATM card, a user is required to physically insert/attach the CAC to a computing device (such as laptop or iPad) and enter a secret pin before that device can gain access to DoD network. In the PC/Desktop world, most computers either come equipped with a slot for CAC or the department would generally provide a USB CAC reader costing around $15 for free of charge.

In the new world of mobile devices however, DoD will have to spend a lot more than just $10 bucks for the smart card reader. Actually, it would be close to $400 for an iOS device and still over $300 for Android. 

 

Biometric Associates is the only manufacturer who makes this CAC reader (baiMobile3000MP Bluetooth Smart Card reader). And a single available manufacturer could also be the primary reason behind the high prices for CAC readers. One may argue that competition may drive down the prices in future but as I would explain next, it may not be so simple.

 

The baiMobile CAC reader also provides its own API which must be programmatically integrated with any application that wishes to perform a CAC authentication from a mobile device. Presently, many software vendors and app developers are investing time and money to integrate this API into their products. If new CAC reader manufacturers enter this segment they will likely have their own API, but by then industry support for any new CAC reader would depend upon how willing the same software vendors and app developers are to start the CAC integration process all over again. Therefore, in my opinion, the API integration and DoD certification/approval process could present significant barriers to entry for the competition in this space.

So when thinking about BYOD in defense, a question comes to mind. Who would pony up almost $400 for a baiMobile CAC reader? The employees, who would have already paid for the mobile device; or DoD?

 

I am not so sure if DoD would offer to buy this device for hundreds of thousands of employees and incur huge expense at a time of deep budget cuts. Doing so would also directly challenge the basic argument of cost savings in Government through BYOD. And I certainly don’t believe defense employees would buy this CAC reader in significant numbers with their own money any time soon, just because they would like to bring their own devices to work.

 

Therefore, unless prices for the Smart Card reader come down significantly, it could become an impediment to not only a successful BYOD but also to a wide spread rollout of mobility within DoD.

 

I have conducted several surveys recently where I asked people to predict the percentage of enterprise mobility applications that will be written in HTML5 by 2014.  Three months ago I asked a group of "big firm" analysts for their prediction and it ranged from 30% to 50% of enterprise mobility apps.  Yesterday I asked a person here at the SAPinsider Mobile2012 event and their prediction was 20%.

Last month I polled a group on Linkedin, SAP Enterprise Mobility, and 20 people responded with their predictions.  Here are the unscientific, but interesting, results:

Question: What percentage of enterprise mobility apps will be developed using HTML4 by 2014?

  • 20% said less than 30% of enterprise mobility apps
  • 15% said 31% to 40% of enterprise mobility apps
  • 10% said 41% to 50% of enterprise mobility apps
  • 15% said 51% to 60% of enterprise mobility apps
  • 40% said more than 61% of enterprise mobility apps

 

Fifty-five percent predict that more than 50% of enterprise mobility apps will be developed using HTML5 by 2014.  What are your predictions and why?

Both my kids have desktop computers, but they vastly prefer to use the family iPad for homework or games. Why? I suspect it has something to do with the cool factor, but it’s also easy to carry around, has way better battery life, and great access to the App Store (once you master Angry Birds and need a new game to conquer). And with yesterday’s launch of the next generation iPad, it will also provide a sharper image display and the ability to connect to the Internet on 4G broadband networks, which will provide individual consumers and businesses alike with a more engaging user experience.

 

At Sybase, we’re seeing a second wave of innovation in Internet banking solutions driven largely by tablets—iPad leading the pack and others, such as Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy, Blackberry Playbook and HP TouchPad also making inroads. Other contributing factors to this evolution are scalability issues with first-generation Web and mobile apps, and mergers within the financial industry itself that force infrastructure consolidation.

 

It’s tablets, though, that are leading many banks (and online banking platform providers) to start thinking of their Internet and mobile banking offerings as one service, developing tablet apps to go with those for Web and smartphones. Just one year ago, banks generally weren’t interested in building an iPad app. Now, they’re getting on board, wanting to stay competitive and show that they’re thinking about the future.

 

A tablet’s good amount of screen real estate is like a desktop or laptop in that you can have a richer interface than you can with a phone (and also see what you’re doing). 3G connectivity and widely available WIFI delivers the widespread Internet access that many people appreciate about SMS-based mobile banking. With a tablet, customers no longer have to settle for a scaled-down version of banking services when they’re on the go.

 

This week’s news reiterates that Apple’s iPad is reinventing portable computing and the way that individuals interact with an online display. Tablets are also bringing a whole new segment of people to mobile banking, including those who weren’t comfortable making transactions on their phones. With a form factor more like a laptop, tablets are less likely to be lost or stolen, and may help consumers feel more secure using them.

 

Especially when targeting the tech savvy, affluent and younger customers, banks are starting to realize that more people are going to have—and prefer using—tablets over other connected devices. I think tablets will encourage more people of all ages to make financial transactions online in general, and use Internet/mobile banking in particular.

The 2012 Mobile World Congress is now in the history books. All of the 60,000+ delegates have returned home with renewed excitement about this multi-trillion dollar industry and the energy generated at this annual ritual of the mobile industry.

 

For 2012, there was significant MWC chatter around three-letter technology abbreviations: LTE, NFC, RCS, and OTT. For all of these subjects, I and my colleagues could write books; however, today I want to focus more on LTE and OTT.

 

Mobile World Congress 2012 For those readers who have never attended a Mobile World Congress, but maybe have attended smaller trade shows or the spring CTIA shows, each and every one seems to generate energy around two or three key issues. For me it was LTE and OTT. Perhaps it is because we provide services around all these services; or perhaps because everywhere you turn, there are companies promoting their own products around supporting LTE roll-out. LTE is designed to enable a wide variety of applications, but a key benefit is to better enable richer multi-media services such as RCS. In fact, and especially in the European markets, RCS can be a clear differentiator for many operators to “take back the subscribers” from the grips of various OTT services. Offering integrated contact lists, rich P2P communications, such as presence-based messaging, voice calling (including VoLTE!) enriched with video and images, RCS will help operators fully realize the benefits of their new LTE networks.

 

 

 

 

It was clear, from the new GSMA brand joyn (for soon-to-be launched RCSe services) announcement and several operator CEO presentations that the mobile operators are working very hard to take back the subscriber with superior products and services. The GSMA says that “joyn makes everyday mobile to mobile communications more engaging.” JoynThey also say: “It’s just there, it just works.” In future blogs, we’ll talk more about RCS, what it looks like, how it works and where it is going.

 

The “It’s just there, it just works” quote reminds me of a similar quote from a certain fruit-inspired company, who, as I write this will be launching a new iPad, tomorrow. Let me go on a limb here and make a prediction: I predict that the new iPad 3 will not support LTE. I think, at this point, Apple would rather wait for further operator deployments (various sources agree that over 120 LTE networks operational by end of 2012). Still, if the iPad 3 does happen to support LTE, and I don’t think it will, that would be a huge catalyst to get operators moving even faster (not withstanding multi-band support from many other OEM devices: Samsung, LTE, and HTC to name a few). Otherwise, I would like to note that HSPA+ is quite fast these days. My real life experiences (via SpeedTest.net), both in Barcelona and in my home areas of Virginia now give me in excess of 6 Mbits/sec download speeds. Addtionally, LTE networks are still too fragmented in terms of frequency bands – an Apple LTE supported device would have to be targeted for certain regions, possibly supporting three groups of frequency bands at minimum. But, later in the year, as the LTE picture starts to further materialize, as more multi-band LTE chip sets are available, then let’s see what the new iPhone 5 (or whatever it is to be called) will do. I think there will be more than a realistic chance of an iPhone 5 LTE support.

 

In the coming weeks, I will be following up with a more technical focused blog entry around LTE Roaming and technology.

 

Finally, I’m reprinting my MWC Daily article (appeared in Wednesday, February 29th issue), that addresses OTT impacts. I wrote this to a non-USA mobile industry audience, as the North American market players are now quite familiar with our own brand of OTT services – it’s different in Europe and other parts of the world, and very concerning to many.

 

Over-The-Top Messaging Impact on Traditional SMS

 

In the last 2 years, new, potentially disruptive Over-The-Top Messaging service providers have emerged in the North American marketplace. These OTT messaging providers, unlike mobile network operators who provide services across mobile networks, are not affiliated with any specific mobile network operator (they are not a Common Mobile Radio Service or CMRS operator). Instead, the service runs “over the top” of an existing broadband service. We coined the term “NUVO” to describe them.

 

NUVO stands for Network Unaffiliated Virtual Operator, a specific type of Over-The-Top service provider. NUVOs are person-to-person communications service providers, similar to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), except that MVNOs provide services on specific mobile operators’ networks.

 

NUVOs provide basic services such as voice, SMS and MMS, as well as various other services over any network — mobile or fixed. NUVOs are typically smart-device-based service providers (smartphones, tablet, iPod touch) that include companies and services such as Google Voice, Pinger (Textfree brand), Gogii (textPlus brand), MediaFriends (HeyWire brand), Toktumi /Line2, Enflick (TextNow brand), TextMe and fring.

 

A common NUVO attribute is that the service requires a new ITU E.164 style telephone number. The telephone number is typically assigned to each user or subscriber, who can then interact with others via mobile-style messaging, through voice calls or video calls. Another common NUVO attribute is that they try to interoperate with the existing messaging, video or voice ecosystem.

 

In 2010 and 2011, NUVOs’ scope and influence grew considerably in the United States and Canada with subscriber estimates numbering between 15 to 20 million. Monthly message traffic now exceeds 5 billion messages per month to and from the Mobile Operators alone helping the overall messaging market to continue to show growth.

 

For this mixed messaging ecosystem to be successful there must be a variety of checks and balances in place, such that all participants respect the long established rules of the messaging ecosystem. Most of the larger, more established NUVOs “play by the rules” and are very diligent about maintaining a robust messaging ecosystem. Messaging hubs like Sybase 365 work hard to guard the messaging ecosystem against those that would take advantage of the tremendous subscriber reach through SMS. Messaging hubs must be diligent against SPAM, as well as A2P style messaging that may attempt to pollute a strictly Person-to-Person (P2P) ecosystem. Service providers that do engage in A2P-style messaging activity within the P2P ecosystem may be subject to remedies such as traffic blocking, and reclassification as an A2P provider.. Furthermore, in the United States, the CTIA organization took steps in 2011 to establish a new set of Inter-operator SMS Guidelines to include “non-CMRS” service providers. These guidelines not only apply to app-based service providers, but also fixed-line providers such as cable television & network providers who can supply SMS capabilities to their fixed line subscribers. The new CTIA Guidelines provide a variety of basic ground rules with which non-CMRS providers must comply, further guidelines for messaging hub providers, and remedies to deal with those players who insist on operating outside of the norms for legitimate person-to-person SMS.

 

It is important to note that the NUVO category does not include non-SMS interoperable service providers such as WhatsApp or Kik, whose services require all subscribers to their closed messaging ecosystem to download a proprietary app to their device. Those service providers do not interoperate with other messaging communities or mobile subscribers through SMS. In a way, they are very much new Instant Messaging (IM) communities, further adding to the fragmentation of that space.

 

Recently, KPN in the Netherlands and other operators have reported their overall SMS traffic and revenues have declined, due in part to non-SMS interoperable OTT messaging providers (WhatsApp was specifically mentioned). In the US and Canada, the NUVOs have chosen to inter-operate with the domestic SMS ecosystem via the messaging hub providers. In other intra-country markets, that is not the case – messaging hub providers only being used for international interoperability. Additionally, as noted earlier, NUVOs require standardized telephone numbers, which are more easily obtained in the United States and Canada. In many markets dominated by GSM operators, domestic SMS is strictly accomplished through direct-SS7-based connectivity between GSM operators. This completely leaves out the millions of devices that are connected, but cannot interoperate with this GSM-only SMS ecosystem. This set-up may have given rise to a situation with unintended consequences. The users of these OTT apps and devices are forced to turn to other non-interoperable solutions. Consequently, the market gap for free (or very low-cost) messaging is being filled by alternate providers such as WhatsApp.

 

We should also note that there will be some MNO message cannibalization by such services as iOS5 iMessage, which goes over-the-top as well – but this service is only for iOS5 devices. iMessage uses standard SMS when exchanging messages with iOS5 devices that have opted out of iMessage, non-iOS5 or non-iOS devices.

 

NUVOs are appealing to a variety of subscriber demographics. Most NUVOs offer a basic or complete service for free, subsidized by targeted advertising within the service. This model has worked quite well, as many NUVOs are profitable or close to being profitable. Additionally, a NUVO and its subscribers are somewhat like a social network. Within this network of users is a common platform – the app that each subscriber uses to engage with other NUVO subscribers or subscribers of other entities through standard SMS messaging. A NUVO with 10 million subscribers, all using the same app for messaging and voice or other P2P services can lead to an almost unlimited number of creative capabilities to engage these subscribers.

 

The NUVO market is becoming an awakening force in North America and there are a few NUVOs taking tentative steps in Western Europe. As long as these new service providers are responsible citizens (not purveyors of spam, for instance) and they provide interoperability with the existing SMS messaging ecosystem, there is a good chance that they will successfully coexist with MNOs and by expanding the range of devices that can be messaging enabled, they will serve to increase the number of connected subscribers, increase messaging traffic and thus benefit all participants in the messaging ecosystem – subscribers, NUVOs, and Mobile Operators.

Something fun for your Monday ....

 

We in the mobility business get used to having the inside track on this leading edge technology that is disrupting business and changing the way people live and work. We talk about it, work in the midst of it, and we come to accept it as just another routine aspect of our lives.

 

However, every now and again something pops up that puts all this mobility into another kind of perspective. I happened upon a recent blog post that did just that. It is a posting called “15 Mobile Stats that will Blow Your Mind”, and it presents some surprising statistics that show how far mobility has penetrated our personal and business lives. Here’s a few key points taken from the posting that will be of particular interest to anyone involved in business mobility:

 

•     There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. 5.1 billion of them own a cell phone, but only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush
•     One quarter of all Facebook users (or 200 million people) access the site from their mobile phones
•     Over 97% of SMS messages are opened, and 93% of those are read within 3 minutes of receipt
•     Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons
•     70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour
•     74% of smartphone owners have made a purchase as a result of a smartphone search either in store, online, or on their phones
•     91% of online retailers in the US have a mobile strategy in place or in development.

 

What I find interesting about these statistics is that they suggest how ingrained mobility has become in the way all of us, including our customers and business partners, do whatever it is we do. Businesses wrestling with mobility fundamentals like security, app, management, device management, and mobile operations integration should pause a moment, look around, and recognize that the world has mobilized. This is no longer a theoretical debate.

 

Here’s one more statistic that will resonate with anyone struggling over the significance of the “generational divide” in applying mobility to their business operations (or their own lives):

 

•     42% of teens say they can text message blindfolded

 

That pretty mush says it all.

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