Consumer IT encroaches the SAP ecosystem

Apple and SAP recently announced a partnership agreement. Such a deal makes sense, given the popularity of the ipad and iphone in enterprise and Apple's wish to grow its enterprise business. But SAP's motives go much further than the creation of “hip” apps...

The deal between SAP and Apple would have been unthinkable a few years ago. With consumer IT companies increasingly focussing on the enterprise and enterprise vendors adapting to the new realities many more unthinkable changes await us.


Apple and SAP recently announced a partnership agreement. Given the popularity of the ipad and iphone in the enterprise and the wish of Apple to grow its enterprise business such a deal makes sense for both companies. SAP has invested heavily in its UI (SAP Fiori) and has already won praise and prestigious awards for it. This underscores that SAP's motives for this deal go much further than the creation of “hip” ipad apps. 

Techcrunch, “SAP announces new partnership with Apple to expand iOS in the enterprise”:

“SAP has announced several programs to help push iOS to its customers starting with a new set of apps for the iPad and iPhone that take advantage of data stored in SAP tools. It’s also providing an iOS SDK for SAP HANA, its in-memory database product, allowing organisations to not only use the apps that SAP is building, but also giving them the opportunity to build their own custom apps using data stored in HANA.

“We are approaching the building out of these apps entirely differently, largely due to the way Apple thinks about app design. I believe firmly they will fulfil the mission of revolutionising work on iPad on iPhone,” Lucas told TechCrunch.”

The Apple press release also states:

“These native apps will provide access to core data and business processes on SAP S/4HANA, while taking full advantage of iPhone and iPad features like Touch ID®, Location Services and Notifications.

A new SAP Fiori for iOS design language will take the award-winning SAP Fiori user experience to the next level by combining it with a consumer-grade iOS experience to deliver on the robust user needs in the enterprise and enable developers to build next-generation apps.”

 Enterprise and consumer IT do mix but with difficulty; just like the waters of the Amazon river and the Rio Negro.

Enterprise and consumer IT do mix but with difficulty; just like the waters of the Amazon river and the Rio Negro.

As discussed in an earlier post, the advantages we take for granted as consumers, start encroaching the enterprise IT space:

  • Use of devices other than traditional PC's.
  • New user input mechanisms like multi-touch.
  • Platform-wide facilities like Location Services and Notifications.
  • Biometric user identification.
  • Choice in the use of apps.

SAP encouraging third party app development signifies they are transitioning from the traditional role of a software vendor of a vertically integrated environment to the role of a platform provider of a back-end server-side software containing business rules and information, combined with a much more fluid front end.

SAP may not be happy to be losing some control over important dimensions such as user authentication, workflow and UI. Nevertheless it has concluded it has much more to win than to lose by adapting with the times. No doubt, other ERP vendors will be following suite in the coming years. 

Like Apple, Google is also strengthening its efforts in the enterprise IT market. Diane Green, industry veteran and co-founder of VMWare, has joined Google last year and is now responsible for all of Google's cloud businesses (Google for Work, Cloud Platform, and Google Apps). 

The deal between SAP and Apple would have been unthinkable a few years ago. With consumer IT companies increasingly focussing on the enterprise and enterprise vendors adapting to the new realities many more unthinkable changes await us.