IBM Adds Big Data, Personalization to MobileFirst

IBM added support for its Cloudant database as a service as well as contextualization and personalization to its MobileFirst platform.

MobileFirst upgrade

LAS VEGAS—IBM announced it has upgraded its MobileFirst platform to enable developers to build mobile applications easier and faster.

Big Blue delivered new modular mobile solutions to empower enterprises with greater flexibility and speed to better enable employees, engage customers and drive business growth. The new IBM MobileFirst platform helps organizations manage an increasing number of apps and support mobile adoption across the enterprise.

“We’ve made the platform more consumable—allowing developers to get the things they need and only what they need when they need them,” said Phil Buckellew, vice president of enterprise mobile at IBM, at the IBM InterConnect 2015 conference here.

In addition, IBM added new capabilities including enhanced support for IBM MobileFirst Platform Presence Insights, formerly IBM Presence Zones, which provides intelligent location awareness for enhanced mobile engagement and optimized operations.

Buckellew said Presence Insights helps users understand mobile activity in and around a physical location. These insights can fuel contextually relevant engagement strategies that optimize the user experience and increase in-app conversions. IBM MobileFirst Platform Presence helps companies understand patterns impacting business operations in malls, stadiums, airports and retail establishments among other areas to improve staffing and queue management. It accelerates the value of marketing transformation toward omni-channel commerce by infusing intelligent location awareness as part of your mobile engagement platform, IBM said.

"It helps to contextualize and personalize apps," Buckellew said. He noted it is ideal for Internet of Things applications where a connection to sensors and beacons is critical. The software enables developers to create proximity-aware mobile apps that bring relevant, contextual mobile experiences that connect insights from digital engagement and physical presence.

IBM also announced it is more easily enabling the creation of data rich apps by providing mobile data through the platform's Cloudant module that allows organizations to store, sync, scale and connect to data in enterprise systems.

"We now include Cloudant in with the MobileFirst platform," Buckellew said. "This is a very important piece. If you have a very large number of users you can have IBM manage the scale. This is especially good for IoT applications." Cloudant is IBM's database as a service offering.

"We want our developers to focus on building new features that deliver an amazing experience to the 40 million users of our fitness apps, not losing time worrying about back-office infrastructure administration,” said Joe Bondi, CTO of RunKeeper, in a statement. "With mobile data as a service capabilities powered by the Cloudant Data Layer, we have been able to do exactly that, and easily create secure, location-based interactions with users."

With a comprehensive set of mobile platform services available in the cloud or in a data center, IT teams can easily incorporate the IBM MobileFirst Platform into existing apps and provide users with access to platform capabilities when and where they need them, IBM said. This flexibility empowers teams to focus on creating business value, not spending time on tasks that can be standardized and addressed with the platform. The IBM MobileFirst Platform also enables IBM business partners and their developers to enhance their offerings and continue to help enterprise clients accelerate mobile adoption.

IBM also added new software to collect in app usage and feedback for enhanced sentiment analysis and crash analytics, and to more easily manage app iterations and release cycles. The MobileFirst platform also protects enterprise data from exposure through mobile exploits using advanced user authentication and supporting app authenticity, encrypting local data and performing app scanning.

IBM projects that in the next 12 months, more than half of organizations plan to develop six or more mobile apps. While organizations are ready to accelerate their mobile strategies and expand mobile app portfolios, many continue to grapple with security, integration and ongoing management challenges, especially in environments with apps that span multiple types of phones and tablets, tasks and user responsibilities. As a result, 85 percent of companies admit to a backlog of up to 20 apps, IBM said.

With access to cloud-based or on premise capabilities, organizations using the IBM MobileFirst Platform can more easily secure, personalize and integrate data from multiple sources to improve decision-making and the user experience. Clients can use the platform to build and deploy mobile apps, or integrate apps built with third party tools. It is optimized for native, HTML5 and hybrid development, or any combination of these approaches. IBM also offers a tailored version of the platform, designed specifically for native iOS development.

"We made it so that people can use the platform to update existing apps as well as to build new applications," Buckellew said.

Meanwhile, a recent commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting found that using the IBM MobileFirst Platform results in an ROI of nearly 107 percent, with payback time of less than eight months, compared to individually integrating disparately built mobile apps into the enterprise.

"Based on thousands of client engagements, we appreciate that no matter where clients are in the process of executing their mobile strategies, the pressure on speed is creating tremendous business and technology challenges," Buckellew said in a statement. "With new cloud-based and on premise services we continue to make investments in the IBM MobileFirst Platform to ensure our clients can move at the speed of mobile while securely connecting to the enterprise.”