Apple, the enterprise, and why mobile matters

Enterprises that are already mobile have a better chance in the future

A new report from global enterprise software company IFS suggests ease of use, familiarity and solutions that are capable of supporting mobile technologies are essential if you want to unlock the potential of digital transformation.

The Apple way

While the new report doesn't mention Apple, we all know (surely?) that the company’s mobile products are becoming a new de facto standard across many enterprises.

We also know that some of the barriers to even wider adoption of Apple’s mobile solutions include the use of existing business systems that are dated, incompatible with new mobile platforms, or otherwise not fit for purpose.

[Also read: 8 useful iPhone tips for busy professionals]

The challenge for those dependent on legacy systems is that these will slow new technology adoption. That means they are unable to embrace the digital opportunity their competitors may enjoy, putting them at disadvantages in increasingly competitive markets.

Your customers don’t care that your business sales system depends on legacy Windows technologies that don’t enable deployment of modern digital systems compatible with iPads, iPhones, Surface devices, or even a smattering of super-disposable Android devices.

Customers will purchase products from your competitors if their more switched-on digital systems enable faster ordering, lower prices, personalized order management, more efficient distribution or more knowledgeable customer contact points.

Not just for Uber

These systems aren’t just about enabling gig economy firms like Deliveroo or Uber. More established industrial enterprises should also take a look at how prepared they are to digitize.

The IFS study suggests that companies where employees access enterprise systems like enterprise resource planning or field service management tools using mobile devices were “more prepared for digital transformation than other companies.”

That sounds a little tautological, but I’d argue that firms in which employees are not already accessing enterprise systems are already at a disadvantage, and this gulf will only grow until they improve their existing systems.

Engagement is important

Engagement is super-important to digital transformation.

“When people use enterprise software from a mobile device, it indicates that the system is the lifeblood of the business. Your employees can connect into those core processes and participate even if they are not sitting at their desk. If you cannot do this, you will struggle with anything in digital transformation,” said Rick Veague, IFS’s chief technical officer.

There is a relationship between enterprise mobility and readiness for digital transformation.

It’s important to recognize that mobile technologies are only part of the ecosystem alteration that is taking place across the enterprise.

Mobile becomes a tool to connect backend systems to edge software solutions, but they also become nodes in a much wider connected system.

Think about connected industrial equipment, order and asset management systems, automated manufacturing processes, international collaborative systems and more.

Digital transformation is rapidly emerging to mean the evolution of a fully connected, smart everything Industry 4.0. And to be prepared for that new breed of business, it’s important enterprises ensure teams are already engaged in digital processes. This seems to be the argument IFS is making.

Mobile device market opens up

As Microsoft continues its migration to become the enterprise-focused cloud-based systems provider, working to ensure its most modern systems are capable of deployment across multiple platforms and devices, the device market—by which I mean computers, mobile devices and wearables—is opening up.

We’re seeing this in terms of enterprise purchase patterns that seem to favor other vendors more than before, and that’s certainly what Apple is experiencing in its business, as it constantly alludes to a growing enterprise business in its quarterly financial reports.

Where does it go from here?

To me, it seems obvious.

As enterprises who have not yet invested in replacing legacy equipment with systems fit for the technology opportunities of the 21st Century rouse themselves from their torpor and move to upgrade (or go out of business), they will face a new set of choices—to the benefit of multiple vendors in the enterprise software and equipment space.

One beneficiary I predict will do particularly well in this great upgrade will be Apple, given the strong relationship between mobile devices (in which it leads in some enterprise verticals) and its other platforms.

Another benefit will be growing acceptance across most enterprise IT that support for multiple platforms will be essential to drive the user engagement so critical to success in a future in which all business is digital business.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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