The month of April is an interesting one. The long awaited release of the iPad took place and the industry is eagerly watching what the impact on business is. A lot of reviews, blogs, tweets and columns have been written. Some with positive expectations, others who critise the lack of camera or other features.
But what is the relevance of these kind of machines for traditional business ??

For me the interesting thing to watch is the development of the apps. How will developers use the larger screen to create new experiences for the user. Not so much the game players (although we can and should learn a lot about the way they deal and act on instant information), but also on the business applications.
When we look at the business model innovation coming from Apple we mostly think of the music distribution (iPod) and the app development (iPhone). For me the biggest revelation is the information interaction that I now experience, at the moment the user wants it and in the format he/she desires. Either stored on the device (mind maps, GTD action lists) or just from the cloud the moment you are connected (the news, my social communuties). With the large adoption of the iPhone and potentially also the iPad, business can no longer ignore it’s power and should start thinking how these technologies can be incorporated in business processes. Not only on the Apple platform but also on the Android platform.
Recently SAP announced their three layer strategy, On Premise for the Business Suite users, On Demand for add-on functionality and their SME solution “Business by Design” and on top of that their On Device layer. Their believe is that large customers will want to have their core data On Premise, but use the On Demand layer to quickly adapt additional processes like CRM and HR. By creating a new platform for On Device, SAP wants to be able to grow the number of (indirect) SAP users in a very aggressive way the coming years.
And here is the comparison with Apple. Recently I spoke with a CIO who compared SAP with Apple. Both built their integration in their platforms. In case of Apple built the software for your own hardware. SAP is building their integration much more in the design of the three layers, which put’s the effort more in orchestration rather then integration. A feature this CIO really appreciated !
Last week on the SAP User days in the Netherlands, several system integrators demonstrated their first SAP Apps on the iPhone, ranging from BI, HR and CRM processes. Or as an SAP salesmen states “do you see that guy calling, he isn’t calling, he is making real time business decisions”.
Will it be succesfull ? Time will tell, but the idea of registrating my working hours in a simple App on my iPod rather then the horrible blue transaction screens, already put’s a smile on my face.