Startup Rolls out Phalanx of SAP Mobile Apps

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A company headed by SAP's former North American CEO is rolling out more than 40 mobile applications that tie into the vendor's ERP (enterprise resource planning) software.

Vivido Labs' Mowego "micro-applications" focus on doing one horizontal task well, such as expense-report filing and purchase approvals, said CEO Greg Tomb.

The software represents an improvement on other mobile ERP efforts, according to Tomb. In the past, "people have replicated a back-end transaction on a front-end device. That's hard enough to do on a normal PC instead of one that's one-tenth the size." Instead, Vivido's apps try to "entirely rethink the way to do that business process using a small, handheld device," he said.

The company is aiming the apps at casual users, "not the person who's pounding on the back-end ERP system eight hours a day," so the interfaces are kept "Sesame Street simple," Tomb added.

While focusing on SAP at first, Vivido created its Java-based development platform in a way that allows it to target other software products as well. Customers are already looking at tying the applications into Oracle's PeopleSoft ERP software, he said.

Vivido is using a "very inexpensive" subscription pricing model, charging per user, per year, per application, he said. There are no limits on usage.

Some of the Mowego programs are Web-based, but most are native to mobile devices. "Native apps tend to look and feel better than a Web app," he said.

Apps will run on the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-based smartphones. Other platforms are "coming soon."

While on-premise ERP software sales dropped like a rock for many vendors, including SAP, during the recession, Vivido has had luck so far, and for good reasons, Tomb said.

Mobile applications can provide a quick productivity boost for customers, and Vivido is "not asking them for lots of money, and not pitching them a long project."

Vivido Labs will compete with other SAP-centric mobile technology, including ERP and CRM (customer relationship management) integrations developed under a partnership SAP formed with Sybase last year.

SAP has also made investments in mobile technology, last year acquiring startup SkyData, maker of a mobile mashup platform.

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