Apple wants its partnership with IBM to unlock the enterprise value within its products. The two businesses are working with a number of well-known companies to enable employees to use their Apple devices for enterprise-related tasks as well as for personal use, primarily through the development of bespoke apps.
‘Apple felt that the devices we use in our personal lives are not being used to their full potential in enterprise,’ says Katharyn White, IBM’s Apple sales and go-to-market global leader. ‘So while they’re present at around 95% of global 500 companies, they’re not truly transforming the enterprise. IBM had a look at the data and found that 70-75% of iOS devices were being used for basic email communications, calendaring, some per cent for mobile transactions – but there were very few used for true transformation.
‘We said look, our personal lives have been changed by all measure, more so than our enterprise lives and work lives. Yet we’re the same person and we expect the same experiences whether we are interacting with our bank or with our CRM system or whatever the enterprise example might be. And so if we want to change that, we need to understand why that is different. So I’ll often say to organisations what’s your favourite app? And almost never will an enterprise app come up.’
A measured decision
The decision to partner with one manufacturer in particular if you are an organisation like IBM can be risky. No matter how successful the company you choose to work with is, there is always the chance that it may close down other avenues for growth.
Despite this, White believes that it was essential for IBM to make a decision on this: ‘If you don’t make a choice then you haven’t really taken a stance. We looked very carefully at the notion of partnering to ensure that it really would deliver something exceptional. Apple has incredible capabilities around simplicity – the user experience is second to none in our opinion – the agile approach of marrying up user experience to start something that’s meaningful and then continue to grow from that.
'It really fits in with the notion that Apple has of user-centric design – the notion of stability between the hardware and software integrated in ways that give you a more stable platform that has more of the users on the latest operating system and allows a different level of security. All of these things just added up to something we felt was far more appropriate from an enterprise perspective.
‘And our strengths are so complementary. even where we’d started from the partnership around cloud, security, healthcare and so on. There were a lot of things that blossomed because our core capabilities are so complementary.’
The two firms are looking to work closely with business clients in a way that White believes puts forward the best aspects of both brands: ‘The partnership is all about transformation, but I would say it uniquely blends what’s great about Apple and what’s great about IBM into a three-way partnership.
‘It takes the simplicity and the user experience that Apple is so amazing at. IBM has the depth of industry understanding, as well as the analytics. IBM’s always been good at complex problems, but we haven’t always made it simple. So that powerful intersection is going to change work.
‘I’ve often said to organisations – and no one has disagreed with me – that we have underinvested in our employees around mobility. We make no mistake that the partnership is focused on empowering the employee to do their job more effectively.
'We take specific roles and specific use cases to start and that leads to a much broader transformation of the organisation, but we do it sort of one user, one role, one process at a time. Often companies come to me and say “our customers come to us with more capabilities than our employees have” and that’s wrong. It’s got to be a connected strategy.’