Carrier will host an app store loaded with SAP applications that connect to its enterprise, CRM and business intelligence suites

Rogers to offer SAP mobile apps

As enterprise workers increasingly tote around smart phones and tablets, organizations are looking for ways to get approved – and useful – applications on the devices so they can work out of the office.

Rogers Communications Inc. has partnered with SAP AG to offer a hosted solution, particularly aimed at organizations that use SAP’s suites.

They said Wednesday they are working on a platform for managing and deploying SAP mobile applications — to be marketed by SAP and sold through Rogers — with the promise that mobilizing a workforce can be done cheaper than if organizations do it themselves.

“What we’re providing our customers with is a platform to mobilize their enterprise, starting with device management, with pre-built applications so people don’t have to go back to their desktops to do work,” said Mansell Nelson, Rogers’ vice-president of advanced business solutions.

It will be done by creating Rogers-hosted versions of SAP’s Afaria mobile device management and SUP (Sybase Unwired Platform) for application deployment in what will essentially be a corporate app store.
 

SAP already has “hundreds” of mobile apps available, he said.

They include travel expense approval, SAP CRM Sales, and several that link to SAP’s BusinessObjects business intelligence suite for generating mobile BI reports. They can also link to SAP’s BusinessOne ERP suite for small and medium businesses, as well as its cloud-based SuccessFactors human resources platform. The apps can connect to non-SAP platforms, but that will need integration services.

The apps run on BlackBerry, Android and Apple iOS operating systems.
SAP still sells the mobile apps, said Canadian division president Mark Aboud. The advantage of buying through the Rogers service is organizations won’t have to buy SAP infrastructure for deployment. Instead, it will be a hosted service.
 
SAP hopes the option will generate more mobile sales, he added. “We see really big growth in this area.”

After an organization with a Rogers [TSX: RCI.A] wireless account subscribes a mobile user would go to a Web portal, enter name and device phone number and it will show apps available. Applications can then be downloaded by clicking on a link.”

The service will be billed to the organization’s monthly Rogers account.

It should be live shortly: Nelson said the hope is to announce customers in the next quarter.

He wouldn’t detail how the services will be priced, saying that will depend on whether the application customization is needed – for example, if a company logo is wanted on the app or if any special links have to be made to a back end.

However, the SAP Web site indicates that mobile apps may require separate licences.

The mobile device management service will be offered separately from the app store, for organizations that want to get their feet wet. But Nelson said organizations will have to subscribe to that service to get access to the app store.

Nelson said SAP [NYSE: SAP] has a “large and loyal customer base in Canada” – including the federal government – and he expects they will “be highly interested” in the service.

The partnership came about by chance, Nelson said, when he bumped into a senior SAP official at a party and the talk turned to deploying mobile apps. “I didn’t realize SAP was this committed to mobility,” he admitted.

The deal with Rogers is exclusive in Canada. SAP has a similar pact with Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and several other carriers. 
Bell Canada’s Createach Group divison sells SAP mobile solutions, but they are not hosted by the carrier.
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