At the Sapphire Now 2011 conference today, SAP attempted to outline a four-year plan through which it hopes to transform the way business is conducted by combining inexpensive in-memory analytics applications that will be accessible from almost any mobile computing device connected to multiple cloud computing services.
During his keynote presentation, SAP Co-CEO Bill McDermott outlined a vision in which all customer information is literally available in real time from any mobile computing device. To help enable that, SAP released a series of mobile computing applications that run on top of a version 2.0 release of the Sybase Unwired Platform, which has also been updated to include a software development kit (SDK) that will allow customers to build their own custom applications on the platform that can be integrated with version 6.0 of the SAP ERP suite. Those applications, either from SAP or third parties, will be made available through a new SAP online store.
In addition, SAP also showcased a new SAP Sales OnDemand salesforce management application that runs on top of the SAP Business ByDesign cloud computing platform. McDermott noted that the amount of data that the average company is collecting these days is now doubling every 18 months and companies are struggling with how to sift through all the information to discover actionable information.
Companies, however, no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to processing that information because business today is defined by digital business transactions. In fact, SAP Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe went so far to say that by 2015, not only will every industry be fundamentally changed by the advent of real-time analytics enabled by SAP's High-Performance Analytics Appliance (HANA), cloud computing and mobile computing, but the line between many industries will start to blur.
Hagemann Snabe concedes that this disruption is also likely to lead to a flattening of the overall management organization. But on the plus side, it should also result in more people being dedicated to creating value versus generating reports.
Whether the average business can keep pace with this proposed rate of change remains to be seen. But it's also clear that the potential that real-time analytics, cloud computing and the proliferation of mobile computing devices have to become a major disruptive business force is there, especially in the hands of an aggressive startup company committed to usurping an incumbent market leader.
SAP is clearly taking a long-term view in terms of when the company thinks all these IT advances will ultimately make their presences felt in traditional corporate environments. But chances are that to one degree or another that transformation is already well under way.