Sybase and SAP released the long-awaited first fruits of the mobile partnership they announced about a year ago.
At the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany, the companies jointly announced the immediate availability of a business process mobilisation tool for iPhones, Windows Mobile devices and Nokia Series 60 phones, as well as CRM (customer relationship management) software for iPhone and Windows Mobile.
The two companies had announced last March that they would work together to give roving workers mobile access to business processes from SAP Business Suite 7 through Sybase's Unwired Platform. The first offerings were to arrive in the second half of 2009, beginning with CRM. The beta-testing cycle, which began late in the third quarter of last year, took longer than expected, according to Senthil Krishnapillai, director of product management at Sybase.
In the initial announcement, the companies listed Palm as one of the platforms that would be supported. That announcement took place about three months before Palm released its first phones with the current WebOS platform, which has had disappointing sales. Though they may yet introduce the tools for WebOS, Sybase and SAP haven't received many requests for it, Krishnapillai said. More inquiries are coming in about an Android version, which the companies may introduce later.
Sybase Mobile Workflow for SAP Business Suite and Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM are designed to let employees take care of business processes on a personal device, without having to log into a virtual private network. The applications can operate in an enterprise "sandbox" that is blocked off from the personal applications on the phone to maintain security, said Krishnapillai.
Sybase Mobile Workflow uses an email-like interface to present users with tasks that need to be carried out, such as approvals of staff vacation time. The software can be used for any task or workflow in SAP's Universal Worklist, including supply chain, human resources and accounting.
Traditionally, managers had been notified of these tasks in an email message and had to go to a web page to act on them, which required logging into a VPN, Krishnapillai said. With the new tool, they receive a message within the application, including buttons to carry out the required task. This can be done online or offline and carried out the next time the device is connected. Data flowing to and from the phone is encrypted.
"Anybody who understands email can do this," Krishnapillai said. However, the system doesn't use the phone's email client, and it can be made available to employees who don't have a corporate email account, he said.
Sybase Mobile Sales for SAP CRM gives salespeople mobile access to all types of information about prospects and deals in progress, including up-to-date contact lists and analytics. In turn, they can update any of that information from the field.
The Mobile Workflow software is now available for Windows Mobile 5 and 6.5, as well as Symbian software for Nokia Series 60, the third and fifth editions. The companies this week submitted the iPhone application to Apple for inclusion in the iPhone store, and it should be available within a few days, Krishnapillai said. A version for Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices is due in the second half of this year.