SAP’s New EVP And GM Of Mobile Sees Tech Trends Converging

SAP’s new EVP and GM of Mobile, Rick Costanzo spent 15 years at BlackBerry. He saw the smartphone develop from its earliest days, and he’s excited to be working for SAP because he sees its mobile division as the glue holding together several tech trends.

Costanzo sees the cloud, big data and analytics all coming together under the mobile umbrella, because mobile devices have been driving a data explosion, the likes of which we have never seen. And as we introduce sensors into the equation, that data is set to explode again, which is forcing a symbiotic relationship among these trends. Sensors are feeding data to the cloud, which can deal with growing data requirements because of its elasticity. SAP’s cloud data processing and analytics engine, HANA, provides the ability to process that big data in real time and deliver results back to the mobile apps living on a variety of devices.

But Costanzo thinks all of this starts with mobile. The mobile strategy itself is built around several key pieces, including messaging, security, apps, an app-development platform and analytics.

And SAP is giving its customers the ability to build a single app or build a suite of apps on the SAP mobile platform. These apps can be internal, B2B or B2C depending on the needs of the customer, and they can link to back-end systems and work across a variety of platforms, including iOS, Android and Windows phone.

In fact Costanzo says that, at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference in June, the company will announce a new unified approach to mobile, which is a big change around how it has approached its mobile strategy. Prior to this, SAP had multiple products, and Costanzo said it made sense to bring them together under a single product umbrella.

To show how this could work in practice, Costanzo told me about the City of Montreal Transit System, which teamed up with local merchants to present customized offers to train riders who signed up with a store loyalty card. When riders are within the range of a store, based on their GPS coordinates and customer profiles, the store can send a special offer geared specifically to what they know about the given customer.

The product makes use of all four trends that Costanzo was discussing: cloud, big data, analytics and mobile. The company processes the data in HANA and presents information to merchants, who then deliver offers via the cloud to the customer’s mobile device. It makes use of GPS location on the device and provides an offer that should be useful to the individual receiving it.

In another example, Costanzo said sensors from a car could inform a driver if one of the tires was low or the brakes needed service. This information could be delivered to a smartphone by text or email or even to the in-dash car system depending on how the owner set it up.

Costanzo acknowledged that at times not everyone will want or need every product that SAP offers in this area, and it has built APIs so that companies can link to other products.

Costanzo said when he looked at what was happening at SAP he was excited for the new opportunity and he believes, as you would expect, that SAP is uniquely positioned to address the needs of this changing market.

SAP certainly sees the opportunity that’s out there and is trying to meet it head on. It’s up to customers to be the final arbiter.