Enterprise mobility apps: Meet a CIO who has 40 of them

BOSTON – Rich Adduci uses the iPad to end people’s pain. And not merely the pain caused by poorly-managed IT. 

Alongside icons for mail, Internet and other common applications, the CIO for Natick, Mass.-based Boston Scientific has a collection of programs developed specifically to allow his firm’s sales force to bring a range of information on medical devices to life in front of customers within the health-care sector. Those products range from catheters and tools that assist with chronic pain to a device which opens up the airways of people with asthma who can’t breathe any other way. The mobile apps include animations to demonstrate the differences between products, simulations of products in use and videos of medical procedures.

“A lot of what we offer to the market is sophisticated an internal. It’s not always self-evident how it would help the way people work or deal with medical conditions,” said Adduci, who was among the customers attending SAP’s Influencer Summit this week. “Most of our audience are people that are mobile, so the PC isn’t a device that speaks to them.”

In an interview with CIO Canada, Adduci said he and his team realized from the moment Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs first introduced the iPad it would offer huge benefits to the firm’s sales force. However it was SAP that first approached the company with some ideas around mobility, work that began with a couple of applications and earned Boston Scientific a mention in a Wall Street Journal article about SAP AG earlier this year. The company, which has Canadian offices in Mississauga, Ont., now boasts a portfolio of 40 mobile apps, and Aducci said he expects that number to reach 100 by next summer.

“The solution timelines are all different,” he said, especially if the functionality goes beyond taking what would have been in a brochure and packaging it for a tablet user. “If you’re going to build a real enterprise app, it’s probably not a six-week activity.”

Mobility has been a big theme at SAP’s Influencer Summit, where executives have talked about moving towards a “mobile-first mindset” in product development as a new corporate mantra. Raj Nathan, executive vice-president of Sybase, an SAP company, and head of mobile applications and corporate officer of SAP, told the audience of analysts here that company would move aggressively on further developing the mobile app store it launched in November. By March, he said, the store would include a “recommender engine,” online purchasing and back-end integration. By June, SAP intends to offer customers the ability to set up their own stores as a means to distribute company-adapted apps.

In his keynote Tuesday, SAP co-CEO Jim Hagermann Snabe said SAP would be reaching out directly to “casual users” of mobile apps. “It’s forcing us to be more intuitive” in terms of design, he said.

Adduci said he looks forward to more off-the-shelf SAP [NYSE: SAP] mobile apps, but in some cases companies will likely have to take the lead on development.

“Fundamentally building apps is very different. It’ll be great when there are some packaged apps, but many are not going to be that way. A lot of CIOs are deploying packaged applications today. You integrate a GUI, you don’t create the GUI.” With very personal devices such as the ones Boston Scientific makes, you need to make sure users aren’t treated as though they were being given the green screens of yesteryear, he added. That’s why his firm has closely involved business users for feedback, often making major changes depending on their reaction.

“Users can’t always describe what a good UI looks like but they know it when they see it,” he said.

SAP’s Influencer Summit wrapped up on Wednesday.



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