Modernizing enterprise apps for the mobile world

IT shops are looking mostly to their existing software providers for an assist when extending enterprise apps to mobile -- and finding compelling ROI along the way

Become An Insider

Sign up now and get FREE access to hundreds of Insider articles, guides, reviews, interviews, blogs, and other premium content. Learn more.

At SaskPower, an electric utility serving the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, the IT philosophy is leverage, buy or build -- in that order. So when SaskPower wanted to make its SAP applications available on mobile platforms, officials first looked inward to see if those systems could be extended out.

With baby boomers retiring and younger employees coming in, SaskPower finds that staffers' technology expectations are changing, says Sheldon Smith, director of technology innovation. Younger people, accustomed to getting an iPad and a charger and jumping right into the job, "don't like the idea of coming in and taking two weeks to learn a system," he says. "It made us realize the bar had been raised."

Hoping to create a consistent mobile experience across different devices for users of several SAP applications, SaskPower turned to SAP Fiori, an interface designed for several mainstay SAP applications, including Hana and the Business Suite. One of the great features of Fiori, says Smith, is that it detects which type of device a person is using and automatically adjusts itself, a concept known as responsive Web design. For instance, certain fields that can be seen on a PC aren't displayed on a mobile device because the device's screen is too small.

Now, if someone in a business unit asked for an SAP mobile app, IT wouldn't have to deploy a whole new system, because it's possible to add mobile components to existing back-end software, Smith says.

For example, he says, SaskPower's leadership team had complained about the complexity of using SAP to do everyday tasks like looking up vacation days. With Fiori, Smith's group was able to build an app called My Quotas, which was deployed about a year ago. Now, mobile device users can easily tap in to the back-end HR system to see what they have available for sick days, vacation days and earned time off.

"A very simple app pops up. It knows who you are, and shows you in real time how many days you have," Smith explains. "That app alone has probably been our most popular."

To continue reading this article register now

Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.