Apple is 'pervasive in the enterprise,' says IBM

IBM just expanded its iOS for enterprise reach

Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, IBM, MobileFirst, Garage

While there remain some industry observers that cling to rapidly diminishing arguments against such deployment, “Apple devices are already pervasive in the enterprise,” Mahmoud Naghshineh, General Manager, Offerings and Solutions, IBM, told me.

The iOS enterprise is here

Naghshineh spoke to me as IBM expands its MobileFirst iOS for the enterprise scheme. He echoes Mike Brinker, Global Digital Leader, Deloitte Digital, who last year called Apple’s products “essential to the modern enterprise”.

“We’re delivering innovative apps, securely integrated with a company’s enterprise data, taking advantage of the Apple user experience to change the professionals mobile experience,” Naghshineh said in an email.

“We are creating beautiful, intuitive apps that connect to core enterprise systems, integrating the right data to help professionals deliver exceptional experiences.”

One of the criticisms that has sometimes been thrown at such solutions is that they only provide a usability layer across existing data—but this is changing, and fast.

Working with Watson

“While making data available is important, the real game changer is the insights that are derived from this data, and we’re now making this possible with advanced analytics and the cognitive capabilities of IBM Watson,” Naghshineh said.

IBM is also leveraging its existing alliances and partnerships to “push enterprise mobility forward,” he said. Most recently it extended its alliance with SAP to make it easier to integrate those solutions with iOS apps. It has also extended its relationship with Box.

While a lot of people are aware of the Apple/IBM enterprise alliance, they may not yet fully recognize the depth of scale.

Naghshineh told me IBM now has over 10,000 designers and developers ready to help enterprises build and develop iOS apps for business.

New centers (IBM calls these “Garages”) in Shanghai and Bucharest, as well as in Bangalore, mean the company can develop enterprise apps “rapidly,” as well as maintain them and update them across the life of the app.

Is it worth it?

According to Good Technology's Mobility Index Report, iPhone accounted for 72 percent of all enterprise smartphone activations during the first quarter, while iPad accounted for 81 percent of tablet activations.

“Our enterprises are responding very well to our partnership, and many are well into deployment and seeing the business benefits,” said Naghshineh. And a 2015 Accenture’s Digital Density Index report claimed use of digital technologies could add $1.36 trillion to the world’s top 10 economies by 2020.

Forrester has claimed that an airline deploying a suite of iOS enterprise apps can expect up to a 48 percent return on investment over a three-year period, with a 30 percent reduction in mobile app development costs and a 10 percent reduction in operating costs.

“What we’re doing together is deep, enterprise-scale transformation that starts with the experience of the end user to the heart of the client’s core business processes and most relevant data—in the moment—at the fingertips of the professional,” Naghshineh said.

Who is it for?

Who uses these technologies? You can track through multiple reports I’ve written if you choose, but you’ll find these solutions now in use across retail, air transport, financial services, education, emergency response teams, medical and beyond. 

These industries aren’t just looking for single apps. “We’re now seeing conversations around enterprise mobility shift from wanting a single app to a much broader transformation around deployment of multiple apps,” said Naghshineh.

Case in point: Lufthansa Group, City Furniture, Singapore Airlines and Japan Airlines are all deploying apps that use data and analytics drive better customer experiences.

“We believe all enterprise-wide transformations must being with a focus on experience. To compete, organizations need to define new business models to create better ways of engaging with customers via digitally enabled experiences. For many of our clients, mobile is the foundation for their broader transformation,” Naghshineh explained.

Moving on

Clients want to take full advantage of the potential for mobile solutions to transform their business. They want agile development paths to deploy fast and change models in response to customer need, and they want great design and the kind of user experience we get when using any iOS app. Security and cloud support are also important. And apps must be able to connect with core business systems, he suggested.

Looking forward, just like augmented reality, artificial intelligence has potential to transform business models.

IBM’s answer to this is to ensure iOS apps it develops can be embedded with the cognitive capabilities of IBM Watson. With Watson’s capacity to learn and adapt, I expect to see the use of iOS solutions quickly extend into other business cases, enabling faster decisions and agile product deployment in response to changing need.

What do you think? Is your enterprise using more Apple equipment? Are you working with IBM? What do you anticipate your business could achieve with digital transformation, or do you think it’s all just hype? Drop me a line and let me know.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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