SAP Global CIO Oliver Bussmann: 'My prediction is the laptop disappears'

by David Needle

January 8 2013

"I wish Google would invest more in the standardization of remote security," says Bussmann. (Photo: David Needle)
"I wish Google would invest more in the standardization of remote security," says Bussmann. (Photo: David Needle)

LAS VEGAS - You probably have a better chance of scheduling a meeting with SAP’s Global CIO Oliver Bussman when he's on the road, than in his corporate office in Germany. The SAP exec spoke to 200 CIOs over the past year and is a frequent speaker at tech events. Mobile technology? He lives it.

TabTimes sat down for our second annual interview with Bussmann at the Consumer Electronics Show here, an event he says he eagerly attends to catch up on the latest consumer technology his team is likely to end up having to support.  He also keeps his staff and many followers up to date via social media. Last year Bussmann ranked #1 in Forbes list of the top 25 social CIOs among Fortune 250 companies - @sapcio. 

When we met here last year SAP had started a partnership with Samsung to help better secure their devices. How has that gone? 

The investment has been very good, it’s paying off. We have implemented over 200 functions to help manage enterprise devices from Samsung so the level of control IT has is actually more than is available for other devices. We’ve deployed over 5,000 Samsung devices and the feedback so far has been great. 

The Galaxy Note is a beautiful form factor. The iPad has a huge dominance, but I see a lot more choice with the larger smartphones and 7-inch tablets and that’s a good thing. 

Should Google be doing more to secure Android? 

If Google invested more in standardization of remote security for the enterprise that would be a huge plus. They have the resources, especially with the acquisition of Motorola, but it hasn’t happened yet, I’m not sure why.

What changes are you seeing at this year’s CES? 

At last year’s CES tablets were big. A key trend was we started to see the move from one device [the iPad] to multiple devices. This year with Windows 8 and hardware companies like Samsung that support Android now supporting Windows 8, you have a lot more choice of what device or tablet to buy.

What’s the corporate appeal of Windows 8? 

The hybrid model that you’re seeing in the convertible devices attracts a lot of corporate users because these companies are eager to find a device that can replace the notebook and Windows 8 offers that. 

So we’re entering the year of the convertible? 

There’s a lot of change coming. The way we operate with the mouse and keyboard will change to gestures and using sensors. Someone’s going to figure out how we can better interact with devices using our senses and it’s going to be disruptive just like the iPhone was when it came out.

My prediction is that the laptop disappears. We’ll have touchscreens and maybe a keyboard, but I’m not sure the keyboard survives in the next 3-5 years.

Has BYOD peaked? As more corporations adopt tablets, I’m wondering if we’re going to see more companies just say, “You want a tablet? Here’s your tablet’ rather than support the employee’s device. 

No I don’t think it’s peaked, BYOD is ongoing. At SAP we have over 5,000 personal devices deployed across 21 countries. BYOD is in full execution. 

So you don’t see a corporate mandate ...

Companies may have their preferred brands and different policies, but the trend I see is that if there is a hot new device the IT organization is going to be required to support it. And the timeframe for that has really accelerated where you see IT taking only a few days or weeks to add a device, not months or years. We were supporting the iPad mini a few weeks after it launched. 

On the tablet side, SAP was an early supporter of the iPad, you expanded to Samsung’s  Galaxy line and now you’re adding Microsoft’s tablets and other Windows 8 models? 

“We’re only going for Surface Pro for now, not Surface RT. There is too much to do from a mobile device management perspective to go with Surface RT for now. But you look at, for example, what Lenovo’s done with Windows 8, they’re beautiful with the detachable display that’s a tablet and the keyboard.

Windows 8 has a chance to succeed because it fully integrates in the normal desktop/laptop environment. That’s a compelling argument for people on the road. 

How is the management and support of these devices changing? 

There’s a new trend in user support. We borrowed a bit from the Apple Store Genius Bar with our Mobile Solution Centers that are currently in 11 SAP offices (two in the U.S.) and plans to add many more. 

How does it work? 

The Mobile Solution Centers are set up to be a friendly environment, usually near an area employees go by for their lunches. They can make an appointment, drop in and get immediate help and test drive new corporate devices or get something repaired in a low key setting. 

We’re moving our support people who may have been hidden away in the basement, out in front of our internal users. The feedback has been great, users are excited and want to keep returning. 

 

David Needle is Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley

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