Enterprise mobility, three years later: The IBM and Apple collaboration

By Taylor Holland

It’s been three years since IBM and Apple surprised CIOs and techies around the world by announcing the formation of IBM MobileFirst for iOS. The exclusive relationship between the two unlikely collaborators promised to “transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps — bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad.”

In honor of the partnership’s third anniversary on July 15, here’s a look back at the major milestones and ahead to future advances:

Apple and IBM: Three years in review

What happens when you combine IBM’s expertise in enterprise IT with Apple’s best-in-class devices and user experience?

  • Industry-specific enterprise apps: IBM and Apple have a rich portfolio of more than 100 enterprise apps that are transforming work across 15 industries and 65 professions. The two companies have continuously launched industry-specific MobileFirst for iOS apps along with role-specific apps, such as Expert Seller.
  • Mobile at Scale: For brands with large app portfolios and growing mobile plan costs, IBM provides Mobile at Scale, a holistic strategy for mobile app management. Under this plan, an airline deploying a suite of iOS enterprise apps anticipates a 48 percent return on investment over a three-year period, with a 30 percent reduction in mobile app development costs and a 10 percent reduction in operating costs.

Find out the total economic impact of mobile at scale

  • Swift in the cloud: Early last year, IBM became the first cloud provider to enable Apple’s Swift programming language for enterprise app developers. Soon after, IBM launched Kitura, a cloud framework written in Swift that allows developers to build, deploy and collaborate on web services and applications written in Swift.
  • Global Garages: In August 2016, IBM unveiled a new MobileFirst for iOS Garage in Bangalore, India. This state-of-the-art development studio joined IBM’s existing network of Garages in Atlanta, Cupertino, Toronto and Chicago, but the Bangalore Garage serves as a global development hub for iOS apps. By tapping into the world’s largest concentration of Swift developers, IBM design and iOS device expertise and consulting services, the Garage enables clients to complete enterprise mobility projects as quickly as possible.
  • Watson at work: Earlier this year, MobileFirst for iOS apps got an upgrade with the introduction of cognitive capabilities from IBM Watson. As Mahmoud Naghshineh, general manager of the Apple partnership at IBM, told Computerworld, “Cognitive insights are at the fingertips of professionals. These made-for-business apps can now understand, reason and learn, pulling from deep data analytics. We’re making the apps smarter so the professional can make better, more informed decisions.” As Watson APIs “learn” over time, these apps will offer more and more contextual intelligence.

What’s next?

Moving into the fourth year of the partnership, Apple and IBM plan to continue transforming enterprise mobility. The pair will create more industry- and profession-specific apps, and continue beefing up Watson capabilities across those apps. To help speed these and other developments, IBM will soon open new MobileFirst for iOS Garages in Shanghai and Bucharest.

“Companies are now reining in mobile faster than ever, creating a critical need for powerful innovations that will reinvent how they do business,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Industry Platforms, in a recent press release. “We’re combining the power of mobile with cognitive and analytics to continue to push the market forward.”

Find out the total economic impact of mobile at scale

Written By

Taylor Holland

Founder, Taylored Editorial, LLC

With 11 years experience writing about business and technology trends for both media outlets and companies, Taylor Mallory Holland understands how mobile technology can reshape industries and provide new opportunities to streamline workflows, improve employee collaboration, and reimagine…

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