That somewhat obscure acronym actually stands for something pretty important—the enabling of mobile applications. As the world increasingly demands data and applications to be accessible anywhere and anytime, mobile applications become even more important. But if you're an enterprise CIO or IT leader with a bunch of conflicting priorities, the last thing you want to do is wrangle the infrastructure and foundational aspects of building mobile apps. This is where Kinvey comes in.
Kinvey offers many of the basic functionalities that mobile applications need: identity management, integration with data sources, customized business logic and mobile engagement services.
Kinvey also ticks off another item on many enterprises' lists—it offers them flexibility in terms of deployment models. Kinvey runs either in a regular multi-tenant public cloud or alternatively in a dedicated public or fully private cloud.
Anyway—on to that SAP thing. Kinvey today announced its Mobile Data Connect product for SAP. The idea of the toolkit is to allow either customers themselves or third-party system integrators to build mobile applications against existing SAP systems. Kinvey brings the stuff that it has always done and applies it to the particular requirements of SAP shops. According to the company, the toolkit:
- Abstracts the complexities of interfacing with SAP from the mobile app developer with SDKs that are available across 13 mobile app development platforms for native, hybrid and mobile web app delivery.
- Provides pre-built modules for advanced client-side caching, syncing and encryption algorithms to meet the needs of demanding offline field workforce mobile use cases.
- Equips SAP application owners with a fast, simple and secure way to make SAP data available to mobile applications.
- Accelerates data delivery for sub-second, mobile-friendly speeds. Secure cloud caching enables sub-second screen performance of the app even when the SAP system response is in the tens of seconds.
Early customer success
One of Kinvey's early customers using Mobile Data Connect for SAP is Bell and Howell. The company is in the communications space and has service personnel deployed across North America and Western Europe. These field technicians need up-to-the-moment information, and the organization needs to be kept apprised of what these technicians are up to in real time. Bell and Howell used Kinvey’s MBaaS to access large SAP ERP data sets to deliver the mobile workforce application.
“If you’ve worked with SAP systems as long as I have, you know that it’s no simple thing to extend an ERP system with mobility,” said Anubhav Gupta, director of SAP applications at Bell and Howell. “With Kinvey, we’ve been able to extend our SAP landscape for new use cases, and the performance has been unbelievable. I went from 14-second SAP data access down to 400-millisecond mobile-friendly data access.”
Apart from the obvious customer benefits of being able to mobilize SAP applications easily, there is no doubt a go-to-market aspect in all of this for Kinvey. The company said this solution has created an acceleration vehicle for Kinvey ecosystem partners to deliver applications to their customers. One imagines that it's also been a helpful tool for Kinvey, which needs to grow its own ecosystem rapidly.
Filling a need SAP has yet to address
Interestingly, this solution is, at least to a certain extent, competitive with SAP's efforts to enable application mobilization. Kinvey isn't shy in pointing out what it sees as the failings of SAP's attempts to deliver mobile tools for its own customers.
“Our customers and SI partners trying to build mobile apps are frustrated with the options provided by SAP, which boil down to spending millions of dollars to buy new SAP products or take on a multi-year engagement to migrate to Hana. This is a serious problem that we have solved at less than one-tenth of the cost of SAP’s solutions,” said Sravish Sridhar, CEO of Kinvey. “Our Mobile Data Connect for SAP is available now and mobilizes any current SAP system, for any device. SAP admins have been amazed by how easy it is to integrate, configure and mobilize SAP. And mobile app project owners have been delighted by how happy their end users are with the performance and quality of their apps."
After talking more generally with SAP customers, I certainly understand that issues around building mobile applications to integrate with SAP is a fairly general pain point. Despite years of being told that mobile was critical for their continuing success, SAP has been either unable or unwilling to really do what was needed to make mobile applications a first-party player in their ecosystem.
The question remains whether third-party tools such as Kinvey's will be able to retain market share if and when SAP really delivers mobile tools, although there is the obvious potential of SAP acquiring Kinvey or one of its competitors to fill this glaring hole. Time will tell.
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