SAP’s on-demand solutions – what if I am offline ?


Over the last couple of weeks, there has been an overload of news about cool stuff happening on SAP’s On-demand and mobile world, especially the sales on demand solution. From what I have read so far, SAP should be genuinely proud of every thing they are doing in these important areas. But, in all this frenzy – from SAP and from the folks who commented on it – I wonder why I don’t see anything about the offline aspects of the sales function.

A sales person is usually NOT connected to internet all the time. A good many of them actually do data entry stuff  on plane  rides etc.  And only a small fraction of planes have internet connections. So, these people  have to put information into spreadsheets etc – and then if their boss pushes them hard, they will grudgingly type it into a system of record some time.  Some of them I know will probably do it only if their commission is predicated on such data entry 🙂

Which reminds me  – does sales on demand also have a place for sales guys to do their expense reports? I seriously think it should. If not for anything else, at least it will be enough to get these people to use the on-demand solution, and then might have an interest in trying the “sales” part of it too.

On-demand solutions also need an offline feature to it to make them successful.  Otherwise, however nifty a solution is, it just won’t get used by sales people. Can sales on-demand system sync with excel sheets (or some other data store) in a drive on  a laptop and keep itself updated?

The necessity of offline capability is not just true for transactional use – it is equally true for analytical use too.  A lot of sales people use excel as a BI tool – precisely because they cannot access required info all the time when they are traveling.  Most them have a (painful) process to dump data into excel periodically into their PC – probably on weekly basis.

So question for SAP – what is your plan to address this? Does sales on demand have an offline reporting tool that keeps information offline on a device? Since these devices have a lot of memory and processing power these days, why not give a powerful offline reporting solution that can periodically sync with the on-demand system?

Finally, about bandwidth. It is a big constraint for making business work on mobile devices. Not all countries have the luxury of high bandwidth wireless connections. And I doubt if that scenario will grow at the speed memory and processing power improves. So, my question here – what are you doing to harness the power of client side machines? With HANA – SAP has a clear idea on what to do on server side. But what about the advances in mobile devices – how is SAP planning to harness that?

Since SAP is big on design thinking, I am sure they have got good answers on all of this. I am looking forward to getting better educated on this topic.

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One thought on “SAP’s on-demand solutions – what if I am offline ?

  1. Not sure about the offline data retention/redundancy, but looks like Sybase Unwired Platform addresses some of the issues related to connectivity and data sync in mobile area.

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