IBM Launches New MobileFirst for iOS Apps

IBM's mobile application partnership with Apple continues to bear fruit as Big Blue announces a set of new apps for iOS.

IBM logo

IBM introduced on March 2 a set of new IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps for the banking and financial services, airline and retail industries.

Announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the new apps complement the 10 mobile apps that IBM and Apple announced in December. These next IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions are available immediately for business customization and deployment, IBM said.

Big Blue noted that more than 50 foundational customers, including Air Canada, American Eagle Outfitters, Banorte, Boots UK, Citi and Sprint, have signed on for apps that deliver the expertise and capabilities of those companies to their employees wherever they interact with customers.

"Apple and IBM are the only companies that could partner to develop a new category of made-for-business apps that is truly transforming how work gets done," said Fred Balboni, IBM's general manager of the IBM and Apple partnership, in a statement. "We set out to transform how millions of workers consume, process and use information when they are outside the four walls of the office. Our goal is to boost the performance of every enterprise by making all its data and processes available to any employee with an iOS device—anytime, anywhere."

The new IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions include Advisor Alerts, a banking and financial services app that helps financial professionals better address individual client needs. Advisor Alerts uses analytics to help financial advisors prioritize client-related tasks while on the go. Backed by customized analytics, the app tells the advisor what is most important via a personalized dashboard that displays recommended next steps as well as portfolio-impacting alerts, and provides a communications platform to quickly delegate tasks to teams back in the office.

IBM also announced Passenger Care, a travel and transportation solution that enables customer service agents to address traveler needs from anywhere—offering passengers a smoother, more personalized experience while speeding check-in and easing airport congestion.

In addition, IBM introduced Dynamic Buy, a retail application. Retail buyers have historically relied more on instinct and experience than factual insight when making buying decisions. With Dynamic Buy, retailers gain real-time perspective and data-driven recommendations on how products are performing, as well as seasonal recommendations, helping retailers realize better return on investments, IBM said.

"Delivering exceptional customer care is at the heart of the Boots customer experience, and mobile technology unlocks new levels of convenience and accessibility for our customers," said Robin Phillips, director of multichannel at Boots UK, in a statement. "The pilot of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Sales Assist app will seek to explore how we can further empower our colleagues to be able to turn each customer interaction into a unique and personal experience. Boots colleagues will have access to real-time data and insight from across the company in the palm of their hands, allowing them to offer shoppers even greater levels of service—including real time stock availability and easy in store ordering."

The previously released Sales Assist app is a retail solution that enables sales 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.

Apple and IBM are blending their independent positions of strength, bringing the power of enterprise data, industry expertise, cloud services and analytics together with intuitive design and elegant user experiences. The result will fundamentally redefine the ways enterprises empower their professionals to interact, learn, connect and perform, IBM officials said.

Built exclusively for iPhone and iPad, IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps are delivered in a secure environment, embedded with analytics and linked to core enterprise processes. The apps can be customized for any organization and easily deployed, managed and upgraded via cloud services from IBM specifically for iOS devices.

IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions are now available to enterprise customers in banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications, energy and utilities and for governments and airlines.

Apple and IBM took the industry by surprise 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, in December the partnership 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.

"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."