SAP Mobile Place App Support Expands to Unmanaged Devices

SAP has for some time made it simple for customers to host branded app stores for employees. Now, those stores are also open to contractors.

SAP Mobile Place

SAP has expanded its Mobile Secure mobility management portfolio with the addition of Mobile Place, a mobile application management (MAM) tool.

Mobile Place gives SAP enterprise customers the option to offer a branded, location-specific and secure app store that can be filled with their own apps, as well as sanctioned third-party apps.

While previously there was a focus on enabling customers to more simply and securely offer apps to their employees, the evolution here is that apps can now also be pushed to unmanaged devices.

"It's not just about giving people devices anymore, but also apps and technology they can use to be more effective in what they're doing," Brent Cohler, SAP director of mobile product marketing, told eWEEK. "Maybe you start with just your employees, but more and more it's about giving it to a wider base of users, and knowing they're using apps that you're recommending and know are secure, instead of leaving them to find their own alternatives."

Cohler said the MAM additions were motivated by what SAP was hearing from its customers in industries where large bases of contractors are involved.

"In the utilities segment, for example, there's a need for work-order solutions or field service solutions," said Cohler. "You want to be able to get work orders to them, but you don't control their devices. Plus, there are things like, how do you remove the app when the job or relationship is over?"

Sending employees or partners to a public app store can have its complications.

Cohler says there can be a lot of "noise," by which he means distractions, as well as a possible glut of options, making it not always clear which is the right app to download.

Also, when it comes time to upgrade an app—or post a brand new app—the process is also slower in a massive store like Apple's.

"Sometimes you can't wait several weeks for something to get published to an app store. You need to get started right away," said Cohler.

Downloading and installing are also simplified, and so is the certificate process, said Cohler, since it's also pushed out through the app store.

Companies have full control of their app stores, from deciding which apps are featured to how they want to categorize apps, such as by job function or vertical. Ownership over apps can also be determined so that user feedback is directly sent to the app developer.

Cohler said a large beverage company has begun using Mobile Place for its distribution network, since it relies on so many partners.
"They said, 'Even if we had the capability, we wouldn't want to be responsible for an MDM solution on our partners' devices,'" said Cohler. This lets them offer the apps that they want their partners to use, and to know their data is secure, and not have to worry about all the rest.

If a management environment is in place, however, and an end user wants to download an app but hasn't gotten around to setting up the MDM solution, the solution leads them through both downloads.

"It forces them to first download the MDM solution," said Cohler. "It's a very streamlined approach."