How Apple-IBM Duo Is Redefining Enterprise Mobility

by Sohini Bagchi    Apr 02, 2015

mobile app

In today’s hyper-connected world, enterprise mobility is an enthralling area which has generated a lot of buzz. Visibly, more and more companies are getting into the thick of enterprise mobility. Despite that the first name(s) that comes to mind is the landmark partnership between the two tech giants and one-time rival IBM and Apple. The deal that was announced nearly a year ago has extensively ripened, redefining the mobile enterprise.

The companies are reportedly working together to produce eight enterprise-friendly apps for iOS devices, including the iPhone and iPad. Late last year, the companies launched its first batch of apps taking the total number of MobileFirst apps to 22. The new apps are focused on the healthcare and industrial products industries, following prior announcements that saw the release of apps specific to banking and finance, travel and transportation, energy and utilities, law enforcement, retail, insurance, and more.

Game changers

Experts believe the Apple-IBM partnership is a game changer in enterprise mobility as they’re able to produce apps that creates value to business. For example, Of the recent apps, one app, which is the Hospital RN app for iPhone, is working to reduce the operational costs associated with managing patient information by connecting with a hospital’s own systems, while also allowing its users to manage patient info, including discharges, right from the iPhone.

According to a Tech Crunch report, other apps also focus on organizing and prioritizing task assignments, including with the Hospital Lead app for iPad and the Hospital Tech app for iPhone.  A fourth app, the Home RN app for iPhone, is aimed at supporting nurses who work outside the hospital offering home care services.

A recent Gartner report points out that user interest in app stores will continue to grow in the coming years, but it is important for app providers to make them stand out in the crowded app marketplace.

Brian Blau, research director at Gartner states that app users need to be convinced about the value of the app. “Users will try new apps, but they need to be convinced of an app’s value before they adopt them and change use patterns over the long term.”

Apps that can provide high user-experience, such as the ones from Apple-IBM are likely to have higher traction than others, said the research firm, which recommends that operators that engage with popular content and service brands and bundle their apps and services with their data plans can interest users, leading to greater mobile usage, says Blau.

A recent Forrester report too notes that employee- and partner-facing mobile apps can increase revenue as organizations are able to anticipate customer desires through analytics to turn leads into sales. As an example, the report cites in-store mobile solutions for the retail industry developed by IBM and Apple that help retailers drive the right offers to consumers at the point of sale.

Shifting gears

On the business side too, the deal has produced remarkable results. Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates believes Apple hasn’t had great luck with enterprises, while IBM is trying to expand its mobile footprint.

The deal was struck at a time when IBM’s hardware unit slumped, and the company shifted gears to software and services, especially mobile and cloud. After a string of mobile software acquisitions, the company hopes software sales will contribute half of its total profit by 2015.

The deal also augmented Apple’s position, which was looking to boost growth amid a global onslaught of smartphones and tablets using the Google Android operating system. While Apple is popular among many consumers, its appeal to corporate users has been more limited until recently.

As Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO, noted how the companies can build on their momentum in bringing mobile innovations to their global clientile. “Apple is looking for growth in the business community for their devices like iPhone, iPad and iCloud services. IBM is the company who can help Apple do just that,” she said.

Over the course of the coming year, IBM plans to announce a number of new applications across industry verticals. For IBM, the benefit to working with Apple is that it gives them access to Apple’s design sense, which the company would otherwise lack. Meanwhile, on Apple’s side of the deal, it means they’ll have the ability to sell more iPhones and iPads into the enterprise, expanding their market, and thereby redefining the mobile enterprise as Apple CEO Tim Cook believes, “It will change how business functions.”