11 ways Apple’s iPhone changed the enterprise

Who saw this coming in June 2007?

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Steve Jobs, enterprise

Ten years since Apple’s iPhone went on sale, here are 11 ways the device has profoundly transformed the enterprise.

The BYOD moment

The popularity of iPhone drove enterprise everywhere to permit employees to bring their own devices to work. Employees loved the power of the iPhone, and while competitors have sought to fill the same space, fragmentation and poor security mean Apple’s platform continues to dominate enterprise mobility and the company is carving itself a strong position in the future of enterprise IT.

Followed by BYOC

Bring Your Own Device has morphed into Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC). The success of the iPhone in the enterprise has driven a rapidly growing number of businesses to invest in Macs rather than PCs. Windows remains dominant, but its empire seems to be weakening, particularly following IBM’s revelation that Macs are significantly cheaper to run than PCs.

Changing working practice

iPhone has ushered in fundamental shifts to the way in which enterprises work internally. The move to digital transformation and all its related technologies and benefits is forcing smart firms to tear down the silos that existed between various departments to seek out brand-new ways of working.

Enterprises have also had to shift the way they look at tech, moving away from traditional monolithic approaches toward a more permissive and productive environment in which users can work on any device, with data and apps that can come from anywhere.

“I think the iPhone was probably one of the most impactful pieces of technology to come into the IT world since computing," VMware vice president and chief information security officer Alex Tosheff told Network World.

Remote working for profit

Combined these mobility trends have unleashed new opportunities for employees to work remotely. While it is certainly true that many larger businesses remain a little resistant to this, all the reports I’ve read over the last three or four years seem to explain that this kind of autonomy and personal control boosts employee productivity and enables fast, responsive and agile working practices that get results.

Better software: A right, not a privilege

Employees are less and less prepared to tolerate second-rate technologies. They don’t want to try to do their jobs using non-intuitive, logically frustrating, complex proprietary software applications. They want their business IT to be as seamless and well-designed as the sophisticated technologies they use in their personal lives.

These demands are forcing IT leaders to be more proactive. Those that successfully meet these challenges are seeing productivity and efficiency improvements as a direct result—after all, easy-to-use solutions have lower initial learning curves and are far more likely to be used habitually and successfully.

Digital everything means everything

The preponderance of mobile is driving rapid digitization of business practices. Paperwork is being rapidly replaced with digitally connected transaction processes. These drive significant improvements—for example, sales teams in the field can agree on a deal confident in the knowledge that their logistics and distribution teams can immediately begin assembling an order, as the field process links seamlessly with the backend ordering systems.

“Our users can start and finish a job from the comfort of their device, while at the same time be in communication with the entire company,” said Xavier Flores of Gachina Landscape Management.

The App Store computers for everyone

Apps are everywhere. Enterprises create their own apps to help get things done (it’s what IBM’s Mobile First initiative is all about), but they aren’t confined to productivity alone. Many branded businesses create consumer-facing apps, exploring new business opportunities as they do. Retail apps combine loyalty schemes with catalog payments, and consumers now know to use their iPhone when they are in the shop to check competitive pricing. (This is also driving changes in retail and a focus on experiences).

And, when it comes to productivity, third-party apps like Slack, social networking apps and others are all becoming BYOA (Bring Your Own Application) tools, usage of which generate both productivity improvements and security policy nightmares for enterprise IT.

Safety catch

The undeniable base security of Apple’s systems and the introduction of mobile device management (MDM) solutions from the likes of JAMF and others means enterprises can quickly bring employee devices into the fold, securing key data with a combination of proprietary protections that are boosted by biometric (Touch ID) and location-based information. This even enables geocaching of corporate data, which itself enables IT chiefs to provide additional security protections around Apple’s core systems.

This isn’t all good—it has led attackers to create increasingly complex targeted phishing attacks and to seek out vulnerabilities elsewhere in enterprise IT, as evidenced by the ghastly WannaCry attack on dated Windows systems in use across the UK NHS.

Ushering in the IoT

The massive multiplication of mobile end points was a key stage along the journey to the connected everything of the Internet of Things (IoT). While the latter remains more hype than happening, automation, robotics and connected infrastructure is now entering the mainstream, and these solutions will eventually learn from the many lessons of deployment in the Apple age. (That means those first-generation IoT devices with poor security protection should be avoided at all costs by any smart person in the sector.)

Unexpected business opportunities

Apple claimed its solutions have helped create almost 2 million U.S. jobs in engineering, retail, supply chain, manufacturing and app development. Developers have earned over $70 billion from App Store sales—but the key business improvement points to an incalculable level of productivity gains for any enterprise to have successfully implemented a digital transformation strategy. It’s reasonable to assume that the mobility era kick-started by the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 has generated billions in revenue for enterprises worldwide. And not a lot of people saw that coming when the device launched.

New partnerships

The iPhone has perhaps changed Apple’s status in the enterprise forever. Apple now works closely with some of the biggest names in the space—IBM, SAP, Cisco, Dimension Data, Deloitte, JAMF and others—and has become the world’s top IT vendor, according to Gartner. IBM claims Apple is now “pervasive in the enterprise.” Do you agree? Let me know.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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