9 challenges Apple-based enterprises face in 2020

With 5G iPhones expected, AR continuing to evolve and voice-based assistants gaining momentum, 2020 could bring the seeds of change for many companies.

Apple, iOS, mobile, digital

Enterprise technology continues to evolve at an incredibly rapid rate, with emerging technologies creating a business environment of constant change. What challenges should Apple-using enterprises think about in 2020?

Prepare for 5G

Apple is expected to introduce 5G devices in 2020. Meanwhile 5G networks are being put in place so that when the iPhone 5G does appear, it will have a network to run on.

We’re in the early days of this deployment, but it’s likely your enterprise is already looking at how the latest network standard can support work. Smart cities, smart factories, IoT deployments, smart homes and an array of high-bandwidth consumer and enterprise service developments loom.

How will your business make use of them? Or invent them? (Hint: 5G for enterprise is not about faster video conferencing systems.)

Augmenting the human

Gartner notes that humans have been augmenting themselves for years; this trend will only intensify in 2020. What does this mean in terms of iOS app development?

Think about field-service information delivered to front-line workers by ears using AirPods, iPhones or Apple Watch; think about solutions such as Apple Business Chat and consider new and innovative ways in which your enterprise can enhance customer, employee or B2B experiences using ARKit.

These VR/AR experiences can be supported and contextualized by the sensors that already exist within these devices: gyroscopes, location sensing hardware, altimeters, activity data, and more – with this information remaining private on the device.

Voice first skills

The proliferation of voice assistants, smart speakers and other voice-activated technologies poses new challenges. One of these involves search.

Conventionally, if a search-engine optimization (SEO) strategy gets your brand to the front page of specific searches around your keywords you will do better than you do on page two. However, most voice assistants prioritize the top search above all others that require interrogators to actively request additional results. Increasingly, these voice assistants also check for location data – a search for “Legal advice near me” will deliver highly localized results for that term.

...This means local SEO

SEO has always been important, but keyword research, strategic positioning and investment in local contextual terms matter so much more if you want to ensure that when AirPods-using consumers search for your service it’s you they find, not your competitor on the next street.

SEO, particularly local SEO, will be a key skill in a voice first environment. Are you investing in it?

Get to know Swift (and adopt an iPad-first development strategy)

Apple continues to develop and improve its Swift programming language, introducing new tools and evangelizing use of the development code. Apps developed using Swift have an easier time when developers migrate between Apple’s platforms.

Apple’s decision to facilitate the process of porting iPad apps to Macs with Catalyst will also impact Apple-focused enterprises: it’s possible that some app development projects will build for iPad first, then migrate that code to iPhones and Macs.

The devil’s in the details, of course, and Catalyst doesn’t yet support everything some apps may need. But Swift (and OS) iterations mean those missing fragments are likely to be introduced over time.

The take-away: your enterprise needs to invest in Swift development and iPad OS skills.

Familiarity breeds contentment

Think about the nature of how those using your apps interact with technology. It's likely that Macs, iPads, iPhones, smartwatches and other mobile and PC platforms all play a role to a greater or lesser extent.

That’s why app/interface designs should be familiar on all supported platforms – particularly if you want people to use the apps you provide, rather than unapproved alternatives.

Your employees are your customers, too, and want the same UI simplicity in enterprise-related apps as they get on any other app they use – particularly if you want those workers to stick around.

Be human smart about machine intelligence

Digital transformation is unlocking business improvements through a huge range of technologies, from process automation to autonomous machines to AI-driven ships' navigation systems and more.

As AI evolves, we will see an increase in the number of tasks handled by connected systems and autonomous machines; managing all this change internally, and ensuring high-quality external customer experiences, requires most enterprises to invest in human “soft” skills.

Delivering human-centered user experiences will require deep thinking about the value of your employees. Those with the very best soft skills will be hard to find, hard to keep and will want to work for companies they believe in.

They will also be Apple literate, reflecting today’s environment in which support for Apple products can bwe an HR challenge.

One more thing: Beyond HR, how can your company make use of the machine learning components Apple already provides inside its operating systems?

Thinking about endpoints

Where does all your enterprise data live?

Typically, you’ll secure much of this in highly encrypted cloud implementations. But much of the day-to-day information – and access to all your most sensitive information – also lives (or is accessible) on your enterprise fleet of mobile devices.

What this means is that it is becoming as necessary to protect individual users and individual devices as your cloud servers and core IT systems.

This favors Apple with its highly evolved on-device privacy models, but also requires use of Mobile Device Management systems, situationally aware AI-supported network and device security systems and endpoint/edge-device security monitoring solutions.

Meanwhile, your employees are your device managers, so you’d better equip them for these challenges: No one follows a security policy if they don’t understand why they should.

Data security, transparency and control

If your enterprise gathers data, you should already be meeting regulatory requirements to protect that information and to develop increasingly transparent storage and accountability practises.

The fact that both Google and Apple have moved to provide users with slightly more control over what happens to data should be seen as a warning that your enterprise will likely need to follow suit – if not voluntarily, then in response to legal or customer demand.

Transparency, traceability and control of data is emerging asbe a huge issue. Not only are consumers increasingly aware of the need for it, but all your business partners will face similar concerns, too. If nothing else, handling the regulatory burden of data transparency is likely to occupy more of your time (and budget) in 2020, whether you’re an individual app developer or an enterprise using Apple equipment.

The bottom line? If your business doesn’t really need other people’s data, don’t gather it.

What other trends do you think Apple-based enterprises should think about today? Let me know via social media links below.

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Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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