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May 21 2010   7:38PM GMT

Sapphire 2010: Innovation on the iPad

CourtneyBjorlin Courtney Bjorlin Profile: CourtneyBjorlin

Anyone who attended Sapphire this year saw the iPad everywhere. From Hasso Plattner’s keynote to the booths of vendors on the show floor, everyone wanted to demo their products on Apple’s newest gadget.

So I wasn’t surprised to see a gentleman who looked to be in his late 20’s in the row over from me using one on the plane ride home from Orlando. He showed his colleague and my boss some of its features. His colleague remarked, “I think this is the future. You’ll go into your boss’s office with one of these.” The iPad owner answered, “Ya, this is really game changing.”

I thought, did Bill McDermott plant this guy on the plane next to me? “Game changing” was a phrase he used over and over again at Sapphire, and has used in the months leading up to SAP’s big show. Mobility has changed the game, he told us. The new worker wants this. Enterprises need this.

And that’s exactly what those folks sitting on the plane were saying.

Much of SAP’s customer base is just starting to wrap their heads around the types of “knowledge worker” applications SAP’s talking about now mobilizing. Sure, pretty much everyone has their email on their BlackBerry, iPhone or Droid. And there are plenty of organizations that are doing very innovative things with mobile devices and have been doing so for years. But many are still trying to figure out how and why they would run ERP-related, SCM-related, etc… applications on a mobile device.

A conversation I had with a reporter on the bus to a Sapphire event backed up my hypothesis. She covers mobile exclusively, and therefore, goes to a lot of mobile-focused user conferences. She said she was somewhat surprised at how few people at this conference were mobilizing enterprise applications. Sure it’s cool, she said they told her, they just needed to figure out how it would work in practice.

The iPad could truly be where the rubber meets the road with this stuff.

My colleagues are I remarked several times this week about how the iPad is the perfect device for a lot of these functions. The size, weight, and user interfaces all lend itself well to mobilizing applications that are harder to manuever on a smartphone.

SAP’s faced a lot of criticism for being too late to the game with a lot of things – mobile applications among them.

But maybe it’s arriving just in time.

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