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Apple's IBM Play Isn't Only About Selling More iDevices

Apple wants a seat at the enterprise table and IBM will soon be rolling out the red carpet that leads to the boardroom. Sure, Big Blue’s CEO Ginni Rommety might have to help Apple Chief Tim Cook tie his tie and polish his shoes first, but it’s a fair trade.  He might have to tell her the difference between an application and an app. Other than a few small hurdles like those, the earliest days of the IBM and Apple relationship should run smooth.

After all, without needing to sacrifice turf, Rommety’s 103-year-old monolith could be perceived to be cool and forward thinking again. Not only to the old guard that holds IBM Research, with its track record of pushing the boundaries of science, technology and business to make the world work better place, in high regard, but also to the fast tracked execs of the digital generation who have tremendous respect for old guys who get it.

Yes, for IBM the Apple partnership has the potential of doing what Watson hasn’t been able to do —namely making it relevant to Gen Y and the millennials.

Not only that, but Rommety’s slowly sinking ship will be buoyed by consulting fees earned through helping enterprises roll out Mobile in a safe and compliant way.

White Hat Heroes?

Then there are those analytics apps that IBM is supposed have industry-leading expertise in creating. The jury may be out on this one. First because Big Blue will most likely need to get clearance from Apple before they can sell them in the App Store, and, second, because it will be interesting to see how easily IBM is willing to forgo its ego and  make them simple and  admissible to modern users.

And while some analysts and pundits are saying that Apple’s big win is about selling more iPhones and iPads into the enterprise, the truth is that the devices are already there and that their presence would continue to grow with or without IBM. Even the tough mustered US Government has intentions of rolling them out.

But Tim Cook won’t cop to that at this point. Instead he and Rometty will present themselves as white- hatted heroes who are helping the enterprise eliminate shadow IT. IBM will talk to CIOs about all of the valuable data that’s being lost via unsanctioned BYOD, and, not only that, but also about all of the analytics that can be performed on the data to help enterprises work smarter.

Let’s hope they gain more traction than Watson. Maybe Siri’s delivery will help.

Apple Wants a Bigger Bite

But enough about all of this, because Apple wants more than to ride on IBM’s coat tails.  It wants its own seat at the conference room table — Craig Federighi, the company’s CTO, all but said so at Worldwide Developers Conference last month.

Hairforce One, as Federighi has jokingly called himself, stood before a crowd introducing Yosemite, Apple’s new OSx. It’s built for a world in which desktops, mobile devices, the Cloud and your personal and professional lives intersect.

It was clear then that Apple wanted in on that territory. A point of proof was iCloud Drive, a cloud file store that is accessible via any device. It’s comparable to Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google Drive, Amazon Cortana, and the like. Add Apple’s Mail Drop SaaS app to it, which automatically loads large attachments into a user's iCloud account and then emails a link by which they can be accessed and edited, and it could give Box, Dropbox and services like them a run for their money.

Then there’s Handoff, a cool tool that lets you start something on one device, work on it or add changes to it on another, and finish up on still another. This is how we live and so Handoff, and solutions like it, could be enterprise “must haves” a few years from now.

Mutually Beneficial

Sure IBM might be Apple’s official ticket into the enterprise, but it’s probably more of a short term “I use you, you use me” relationship than it is a true love.

Either way, it will give IBM a few years to prove that it still has to offer what enterprises want and it will Apple what it needs to become a true platform play — the kind that Microsoft, Google and Amazon already are.

 
 
 
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