IBM and Apple have announced 10 new mobile apps aimed at changing the way people work.
Apple and IBM surprised folks last July when they announced a partnership to bring Apple’s user-focused design together with IBM’s enterprise expertise to focus on enterprise mobility. However, several months later, the partnership has produced the first wave of IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions in a new class of made-for-business apps and supporting cloud services that bring IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad users in the enterprise and it all just makes sense.
IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions are now available to enterprise customers in banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and for governments and airlines. IBM clients today announcing support for IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions include Citi, Air Canada, Sprint and Banorte.
“What we’re delivering aims directly at the new quest of business—smart technologies that unlock new value at the intersection of big data and individual engagement,” Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, said in a statement. “Our collaboration combines IBM’s industry expertise and unmatched position in enterprise computing, with Apple’s legendary user experience and excellence in product design to lift the performance of a new generation of business professionals.”
The IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps are built exclusively for iPhone and iPad and are delivered in a secure environment, embedded with analytics and linked to core enterprise processes. The apps can be customized and are deployed, managed and upgraded via cloud services from IBM, specifically for iOS devices, with security across the data, app and device.
“The MobileFirst for iOS apps IBM announced today give some real shape to the company’s partnership with Apple, which I think may have confused some folks when it was announced back in July,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “These first offerings show IBM moving ahead in an orderly fashion, industry-by-industry, in tackling specific challenges and adding value to core business processes through the application of advanced analytics.”
Indeed, in many ways, the new MobileFirst apps reflect other solutions that leverage IBM’s Patterns for business processes that inform the company’s vertical industry-specific efforts, King noted. “But they also highlight IBM’s larger ‘Systems of Record [data center], Insight [analytics] and Engagement [endpoints],'” he said. “In this case, IBM is delivering the data center and analytics offerings directly, and MobileFirst for iOS aims to heighten the value of Apple’s iPhones and iPads.”
The first suite of IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions consists of the following:
- Plan Flight, a travel and transportation solution that addresses the major expense of all airlines—fuel—permitting pilots to view flight schedules, flight plans and crew manifests ahead of time, report issues in-flight to ground crews and make more informed decisions about discretionary fuel.
- Passenger+, a travel and transportation solution that empowers flight crews to offer an unmatched level of personalized services to passengers in-flight, including special offers, re-booking and baggage information.
- Advise & Grow, a banking and financial markets solution that puts bankers on premise with their small-business clients, with secure authorization to access client profiles and competitive analyses, gather analytics-driven insights to make personalized recommendations and complete secure transactions.
- Trusted Advice, a banking and financial markets solution that enables advisors to access and manage client portfolios, gain insight from predictive analytics—in the client’s kitchen or at the local coffee shop, rather than the advisor’s office—with the ability to test recommendations with sophisticated modeling tools all the way to complete, secure transactions.
- Retention, an insurance solution that empowers agents with access to customer profiles and history, including an analytics-driven retention risk score as well as smart alerts, reminders and recommendations on next best steps and facilitation of key transactions like collection of e-signatures and premiums.
- Case Advice, a government solution that addresses the issue of workload and support among caseworkers who are making critical decisions, one family or situation at a time, on the go. The solution adjusts case priorities based on real-time analytics-driven insights and assesses risk based on predictive analysis.
- Incident Aware, a government solution that converts an iPhone into a crime prevention asset, presenting law enforcement officers with real-time access to maps and video-feeds of incident locations; information about victim status, escalation risk and crime history; and the improved ability to call for back-up and supporting services.
- Sales Assist, a retail solution that enables associates to connect with customer profiles, make suggestions based on previous purchases and current selections, check inventory, locate items in-store and ship out-of-store items.
- Pick & Pack, a retail solution that combines proximity-based technology with back-end inventory systems for transformed order fulfillment.
- Expert Tech, a telecommunications solution that taps into native iOS capabilities, including FaceTime for easy access to expertise and location services for route optimization to deliver superior on-site service, more effective issue resolution and productivity as well as improved customer satisfaction.
Apple, IBM Tap Big Data Analytics on MobileFirst for iOS Apps
“This is a big step for iPhone and iPad in the enterprise, and we can’t wait to see the exciting new ways organizations will put iOS devices to work,” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. “The business world has gone mobile, and Apple and IBM are bringing together the world’s best technology with the smartest data and analytics to help businesses redefine how work gets done.”
“I think that this is an important move for both companies,” said Judith Hurwitz, president and CEO of the Hurwitz and Associates research and consulting firm. “For Apple, it provides a continuation of the movement of Apple products into mainstream IT and the business application market. For IBM, it allows the company to demonstrate the business value of the analytics technologies and its mobility platform. I think that this is an indication that IBM is learning to execute well on its strategy. IBM was bold in selling off marginal assets and doubling down on important markets like mobile and analytics.”
To supplement the IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, IBM and Apple are offering additional support, including mobile platform and enterprise integration, as well as the wealth of IBM’s global industry consulting expertise, client experience design and enterprise systems integration from analytics, workflow and cloud storage, and more.
“When we announced our collaboration, the focus was on bringing our two companies together to achieve things that neither could do on its own,” van Kralingen said in a post on the IBM Smarter Planet blog. “We combined Apple’s expertise in user-centric design with IBM’s deep knowledge of business, data analytics, cloud and enterprise-scale software. Together, we committed to create the same kind of empowering and delightful mobile experiences for people at work that they enjoy elsewhere.”
IBM said 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-premise software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix—IBM’s development platform on the IBM Cloud Marketplace. The partnership also features AppleCare for the Enterprise, providing IT departments and end users with 24/7 assistance for their devices from Apple’s award-winning customer support group, with on-site service delivered by IBM.
“Mobile innovations are driving profound impact on how Citi delivers superior client experiences, particularly those that extend our enterprise expertise all the way to the point of customer contact,” Heather Cox, chief client experience, digital and marketing officer for Global Consumer Banking at Citi, said in a statement. “There’s terrific energy in our collaboration with IBM and Apple around the goal of equipping our professionals with mobile capability that will create new competitive advantage and enable us to re-imagine how we share our knowledge to improve the quality of life for our clients.”
In her post, van Kralingen added: “These apps don’t just translate already-existing applications from a desktop to a mobile device. By taking advantage of the distinct characteristics of iOS, with IBM business analytics, they enable us and our clients to re-imagine existing work flows; or simply imagine the next great possibility.”
Apple and IBM are hard at work creating suites of these business solutions for a wide range of industries, she said.
Rob Enderle, founder of the Enderle Group, is looking for more from the partnership.
“These apps are a strong proof of concept for the partnership but don’t yet showcase the full potential of the alliance,” Enderle told eWEEK. “IBM could have delivered these largely without Apple—they are apps after all—and most apps are created by third parties. The promise is that the two companies could deliver together what neither could do under a more traditional app developer/vendor relationship. So while this successfully demonstrates that there is value in the partnership, it falls short of showcasing what a truly blended solution could provide. This last will wait until we can see IBM’s influence on Apple’s technology, a deeper integration by IBM on Apple, and/or an Apple software solution [Siri/Watson] that better ties together key technologies from both companies.”