I’ve written before about Sapho. The company delivers what it calls its Micro App Platform, a solution that allows organizations to transform existing workflows within business applications into "micro apps" that connect data and workflow between core systems and users via their mobile devices.
Basically, Sapho is banking on the fact that large enterprises, wedded as they are to their core back-office systems, simply haven't got the time, resources, capability or motivation to rip those core systems out and replace them with something built from the ground up to be agile and flexible.
Rather, if you believe Sapho's line, organizations will chose to leave their core apps in place but to "wrap" them such that they can build small applications which, in turn, talk back to the core apps. The idea is that so-called "micro moments," or granular functional needs, can be met by similarly small solutions, primarily in the mobile context. Instead, then, of having to try and mobilize an entire back-office solution related to, for example, HR, an organization can built a micro app simply tasked with making a leave request, a requisition order or some other small task.
Sapho is extending its existing platform with the addition of new connectors that include prebuilt applications.
Sapho and SAP
No surprise, given the first three letters of Sapho's name, that it is integrating with SAP via a connector and some turnkey micro applications. These micro applications are useful in and of themselves but, more importantly, they provide a kind of a template for how micro apps can work. Turnkey apps being released include:
- An app to allow users to release predefined purchase orders to assigned suppliers from mobile devices, Slack and other channels
- Apps to make expense approval easier by enabling a "one click to approve" option without needing the core SAP client
- An app to create a paid-time-off (PTO) request for organizations using SAP for their HR processes
But don't forget those Oracle shops
For every huge enterprise that is wedded to Oracle, there is one that is firmly in the Oracle camp, and so it makes sense to hear that Sapho is releasing a connector to Oracle E-Business Suite R12.
In the case of the Oracle integration, the Sapho connector and prebuilt micro apps are focused on simplifying the approval processes of purchase orders and personal expenses. The Sapho micro apps for Oracle EBS deliver tasks directly into your Sapho feed, where performing actions like Approve and Reject takes less than a minute.
Powering micro apps for Microsoft shops
And the final one of the triumvirate, Sapho, which already supports Microsoft SQL Server and Active Directory, has added support for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Power BI. Microsoft shops can now connect Sapho to their systems and deliver a modern experience to employees on any device. Sapho has also built turnkey apps for Microsoft to showcase what it can do:
- The Sapho micro apps for Microsoft Dynamics CRM can track cases, leads, opportunities and their status changes as well as accounts and all related contacts
- For Dynamics shops, actions like adding new leads, closing incidents or opportunities, or creating tasks are made easier with Sapho's micro workflows
- Using the Microsoft Power BI connector, customers are able to incorporate all important reports and dashboard tiles into Sapho micro apps
- Power BI users can trigger events based on any data changes in the underlying databases that take users directly to the corresponding Power BI tile
Mobilization is a no-brainer, and micro applications are, in many cases, the best way to enable end-user outcomes. My assessment, at least in the case of Oracle and SAP, is that those vendors haven't really done enough to enable these kind of micro apps for their users.
That situation is subtly different for Microsoft, which has, on a number of fronts, invested heavily in the mobile space -- recent announcements about Dynamics mobilization and the acquisition of mobile vendor Xamarin are example of this. I put this to Peter Yared, CTO and founder of Sapho. His response:
"Microsoft does a great job mobile-enabling their products, but the challenge is that they don’t have the ability -- or enterprise trust -- to mobilize and modernize systems that aren't their own. Given enterprises are using systems from both established players, such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, as well as smaller players like ServiceNow, Atlassian and Concur, a third-party solution is needed to ensure parity of the integrations delivered to customers.
"That's where Sapho comes in. A single solution that aggregates events and relevant information across multiple systems and delivers it to employees through a Facebook-like feed simplifies work for employees and prevents the need to log in to multiple systems to get things done."
I'm not 100% with that assessment since Xamarin, and other Microsoft mobilization offerings, has a tendency toward being platform-agnostic and hence doesn't make it any harder to integrate tools such as Atlassian or Concur.
That said, there is some validity to what Yared says about the legacy ERP players:
"The highlight of the Sapho Micro App Platform 3.0 release is Sapho's support for legacy ERP systems including SAP ERP and Oracle E-Business Suite. These legacy ERP systems are typically outdated and very cumbersome for employees to use for activities like approving purchase orders and submitting leave requests.
"Sapho provides turnkey micro apps to perform actions like approving purchase orders that are routed to the appropriate manager via the Sapho event system. Combining both the legacy ERP and the more modern systems such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM into a unified view makes using enterprise systems much easier for rank-and-file employees that typically do not engage with these systems daily."
In general, I like the Sapho approach and am looking forward to seeing its progress going forward.
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