Global CIO: How Will Larry Ellison Counter SAP's Mobile Offensive? - InformationWeek

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Government // Enterprise Architecture
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5/18/2010
12:00 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: How Will Larry Ellison Counter SAP's Mobile Offensive?

SAP sees mobility as indispensable for customers and for SAP's new strategy. Will that effort give SAP a unique advantage over Oracle? Our SAP Week coverage takes a close look.

SAP's not just saying mobile will be a vital enterprise device; rather, SAP's insisting that mobile is well on its way to becoming the dominant mobile platform.

And SAP's not just flapping its gums about that position--by offering Sybase almost $6 billion in a friendly takeover, SAP is boldly jumping out in front of that trend by snatching up its preeminent mobile partner with the promise that the two companies can put their "crown jewels" together to create mobile enterprise apps and analytics that no other company can touch.

For all of the philosophical differences that exist between SAP and Oracle--and those differences make President Obama and Rush Limbaugh seem like a matched pair by comparison--the significance of mobility is emerging as perhaps the most urgent and influential.

A couple of months ago, in detailed comments about how Oracle would overtake SAP as the global leaders in enterprise applications, CEO Larry Ellison never once mentioned mobile devices or applications. On an earnings call with financial analysts, Ellison centered his comments on two key points, neither of which included mobile platforms or opportunities: he said Oracle's applications offer more industry-specific expertise than SAP's, and he said his company's forthcoming Fusion applications would offer big businesses vastly superior performance, reliability, and value.

But at this morning's dual-keynote presentations at Sapphire by co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Snabe, both executives pounded home the significance of mobility as one of the most-powerful trends in enterprise computing today and in the years to come.

McDermott cited mobility as the second of three key themes he says he hears over and over from his CEO customers: they want to operate in real-time, they want to "unwire their enterprises," and they want to build sustainable businesses, McDermott said.

"By being unwired, you can transform your organization and change the game," McDermott said in his keynote presentation. "You empower your people. And in today's world, ladies and gentlemen, either you do that, or someone else will do it for you."

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The acquisition of Sybase, McDermott said, will make SAP "the only company in the world that can offer a full suite of applications on any device in any place at any time." And that unwired freedom, he said, "gives companies new opportunities to transform their businesses M-commerce and M-business."

Co-CEO Snabe offered additional unconditional support for SAP's mobile imperative:

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