SAP, Sybase and Partners-Cannibalize or Thrive?
For the most part, SAP has relied on partners and resellers to deliver feature-rich SAP mobile applications and fill the void of SAP's limited mobile technology and feature functionality. So what does SAP's acquisition of Sybase and its new platform mean for solution providers pitching mobile offerings that plug into SAP?
Sybase has built a solid OEM business with mobile application and mobile reseller players. Many of them embed a variety of Sybase products from the database to the device management piece in their own solutions.
"There may be some overlap between us and the point players, and we will begin to offer more SAP apps on our platform," says Sybase Senior Vice President Gary Kovacs. But Kovacs thinks there is enough business to go around.
"There are 100,000 SAP customers before you get into the midmarket," says Kovacs. "There is a lot of opportunity. Our partners are using best of breed and innovating in the vertical application space. This means partners can spend less time on the platform piece and focus on their vertical integration piece. We don't have any of that."
Syclo, an enterprise mobile application and platform provider with a long history in the mobile workforce space, has a strong and close co-innovation and reseller relationship with SAP. At the Sapphire conference May 17, the company also unveiled some new mobile applications for BlackBerry that fit into Research In Motion's new "Super App" strategy.
The Syclo Smart Service Manager and Smart Approvals Manager solutions help companies extend their use of the SAP ERP and SAP CRM applications to BlackBerry smartphones, and take advantage of the native controls on the new BlackBerry 5.0 platform.
When asked about the Sybase acquisition and what it meant for the industry, Syclo CEO Rich Padula said, "It certainly elevates the mobile message and, as they say, the rising tide lifts all boats."
Padula said he believes that Syclo's sweet spot with SAP is not affected by the Sybase acquisition.
"SAP picked Sybase, RIM and Syclo as co-innovator partners, and carved up the areas along those lines and expertise," Padula said. "We focus on the mobile workforce and line of business applications. Sybase was brought on for mobile CRM sales. SAP defined it before and nothing has really changed. The acquisition doesn't change the strategy for co-innovating with the leaders in their respective spaces."
The acquisition and the release of Sybase's new platform also provide a solid opportunity for solutions providers who want to provide value-added integration and software services.
Kovacs says Sybase plans to rely on its partner base heavily to implement and sell the Mobility Platform. "Industry partnerships are very important. We are enabling an ecosystem to integrate it. We have 15 world-leading SIs, and more regionally."
The new SAP, post-acquisition and with Sybase's platform, could also spell a brave new mobile world for the enterprise solutions space. SAP may be getting into the cloud act. The new platform packaging may lead Sybase to become a delivery platform for application and solution providers, allowing those partners to focus on their applications and solutions while SAP/Sybase becomes a cloud for mobile solutions of all types.
Kovacs says Sybase isn't there yet, but may get there over the next three years.
Together, Sybase and SAP will, no doubt, become an industry force to be reckoned with. That is, if the acquisition happens. The blogosphere is abuzz with rumors that Hewlett-Packard may be interested in Sybase as well, which makes a whole lot of sense after its recent purchase of Palm.
In reaction to the rumors, the week of May 17 an investor out of New York filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the acquisition, citing terms that "operate as deterrents to other potential bidders, ensuring that SAP acquires the company."
Regardless, together, the two companies are changing the game. And together they just may have the gumption, the customer base and the software assets to lead the mobile realm. After a decade of stalled market growth and perpetual waiting, there are a lot of people (including me) looking forward to finding out.