The future of technology as we know it took a massive step in a new direction today with the news of a partnership between Apple and IBM.
The two tech giants announced a partnership that could shift Apple from its traditional role as a consumer focused brand to a major player in the business market.
IBM plans to create a class of more than 100 business applications exclusively for iPhones and iPads to run on Apple's iOS. IBM will also market Apple's products, complete with 100 industry-specific apps, to its clients worldwide.
Transforming Enterprise Mobility
Just when we had enterprise mobility all figured out, we get this news from Apple and IBM.
It’s a sweet idea in that it leverages IBM’s well-established business clout with the cool of mobile which, quite frankly, belongs to Apple. Remember, the Mobile Enterprise isn’t only about phones. Everyone from sales and marketing pros, to service providers, to retail buyers and clerks all rely heavily iPads. The data they carry needs to be secured, collected, managed, analyzed and leveraged.
IBM, in its largely visual web announcement about the partnership, draws on its founder’s Thomas Watson’s earliest sentiment, “Good design is good business.”
And good design, no doubt, leads to engagement — it’s rare to find anyone who doesn’t want his hands on an iPad even if he’s used one a million times.
But good design, functionality and engagement isn’t the Mobile Enterprise’s only goal. There are business applications that can be hosted, data that must be collected, protected, and accessed, compliance rules that must be followed and so on. And IBM is one of the masters at this.
Mobile = Big Data
Never mind big data and analytics. Mobile devices are where more and more data is being collected and IBM is the world’s leader when it comes to big data revenue.
In a joint press release the companies say that they will “redefine the way work gets done, address key mobility industry challenges and spark true mobile-led business change.”
They say this will happen via four key capabilities:
- A new class of 100 plus industry-specific enterprise solutions including apps built, exclusively from the ground up for iPhones and iPads. Our take on this? IBM has been a services company working in vertical industries for at least two decades. They should know how business works. Apple certainly knows how to build engaging apps. Can they sit down and work together to make 1+1=3? That is the question.
- Unique IBM Cloud services optimized for iOS including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration. Our take: IBM may have the expertise to do this, but if they don’t, they certainly have the cash to buy a startup that does.
- New AppleCare service and support offering and tailored to the needs of the enterprise. Our two cents? Don’t make the geeks in the stores put on suits when they provide services to companies. Better yet, just build Genius Bars in atriums and lobbies.
- New packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management. Our two cents? Think “consumer.” Apple should provide IBM with some training. Blow it and workers will begin to hate the experience that Apple has been so successful in building (and risk losing its image).
What the Companies Claim
Apple noted that the new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions will be built in an exclusive collaboration that "draws on the distinct strengths" of each company: "IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities, with the power of more than 100,000 IBM industry and domain consultants and software developers behind it, fused with Apple’s legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform."
Apple CEO Tim Cook, calling iPhones and iPads the "best mobile devices in the world," noted that Apple, for the first time ever, was "putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”
Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO, said the alliance with Apple "will build on our momentum" in global innovation and leverage IBM’s leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. “Mobility — combined with the phenomena of data and cloud — is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions,” she said.
This may be IBM’s most important play in its effort to stay relevant in the next generation of IT.
As for Apple, the partnership will provide red carpet entry into the Enterprise where it thinks its opportunities are huge.
The potential is huge for both companies. Execution is key.