• July 18, 2014
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Apple and IBM Forge Global Partnership to Transform Enterprise Mobility

Apple and IBM earlier this week announced an exclusive partnership to transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps, bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

The partnership includes a collaboration on a new class of more than 100 mobile industry-specific enterprise solutions, including native apps for iPhone and iPad. The new apps, collectively called IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions, will target the retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications, and insurance industries, among others. The first of those apps are expected to become available this fall, when Apple is set to release the next version of its mobile software, iOS 8.

IBM will also sell iPhones and iPads with the industry-specific solutions to business clients worldwide.

Also included in the deal is delivery of the services required for an end-to-end enterprise capability, from analytics, workflow, and cloud storage, to fleet-scale device management, security, and integration. Enhanced mobile management includes a private app catalog, data and transaction security services, and productivity suite for all IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions. In addition to on-premises software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix, IBM’s development platform on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

Additionally, AppleCare for Enterprise will provide IT departments and end users with 24/7 assistance from Apple’s customer support group, with on-site service delivered by IBM.

"iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and over 92 percent of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in a statement. "For the first time ever, we're 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."

"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," said Ginni Rometty, IBM's chairman, president, and CEO, in a statement. "This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM's leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can't imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate, and companies perform.”

And "this is just the beginning," according to Rometty, who said that most smartphones inside companies are used only for managing email and calendars. IBM and Apple together hope to create new, serious business applications, she added.

Gartner analyst Van Baker, in a statement, called the pairing "an unlikely combination, but a very strong one if they can pull it off."

Apple, he said, is not an enterprise company, whereas IBM certainly is one.

Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal of Beagle Research, says the partnership is just one more sign of a changing landscape for technology companies.

"This is further confirmation that the old ways of competing on hardware, software, and platforms is going away," he says. "Organizations that used to be competitors are now cooperating."

Further proof of this concept came slightly more than a month ago when Microsoft and Salesforce.com announced a strategic partnership to  create new solutions that connect Salesforce.com's customer relationship management apps and platform to Microsoft Office 365 and Windows.

But unlike that deal, which many saw as largely one-sided, working more to Salesforce.com's benefit than Microsoft's, Nick Balletta, CEO of TalkPoint, a communications technology provider, says this deal benefits both companies. "Apple gets IT enterprise street cred with this transaction, and IBM gets cool factor developer street cred," he says.

The deal also benefits developers. "For IBM, they get access to a developer community that previously was unavailable to them," Balletta says. "Also, from a developer standpoint, iOS developers traditionally make more money than Android developers mostly working on consumer apps, so this will be an enterprise bonanza for them."

Pombriant says that the deal between Apple and IBM signifies other changes as well. "It's not enough to be a supplier of platforms, apps, or processes any more," he says. "It's about who can support the customer best from end to end."

And finally, "this partnership solves a lot of problems for enterprise IT professionals trying to manage BYOD environments," Balletta adds.

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