In response to IBM and Apple’s announcement that IBM will be Apple’s strategic global partner for enterprise mobility services, Blue Hill Research has identified the key questions that you need to think about as you consider the implications of this massive partnership. These key questions will be presented in a series of blog posts, and will provide insight on what you need to know, especially if you are considering having your organization partner with IBM on its planned mobile initiatives. [Read parts one, two, three and four of the series]
In this blog post we would like to tackle our fifth and final question: What questions do IBM and Apple have to answer to make this partnership work?
Because this partnership is still in its early stages, IBM and Apple still have a number of questions to answer about this partnership. For instance:
How will IBM’s full mobile portfolio be integrated with Apple?
IBM has invested billions of dollars in Trusteer’s security, Xtify for mobile messaging and marketing, Emptoris (including Rivermine) for expense management and procurement, MaaS360 by Fiberlink for mobile device management, Urban Code and Worklight for application development, The Now Factory and Tealeaf for customer analytics, and IBM’s own internal mobile services and consulting capabilities. IBM has provided guidance for a number of these solutions, but IBM could potentially go even further into providing additional enterprise mobility services for the iPhone to make vertical-specific application development easier and more secure, bring wireless expense management to all iPhone customers, and provide embedded customer analytics for all IBM-based iOS apps. The potential for this partnership is deep (imagine IBM as the Google-like brain behind Apple’s massive App Store).
Will Apple allow MaaS360 to get its hooks into iOS to the same extent that Blackberry can be configured and managed?
One of Blackberry’s great strengths is in the configurability of the platform for enterprise compliance, an area that Samsung KNOX is starting to approach as well. In contrast, Apple has traditionally been standoff-ish in providing access to iOS, even with the enterprise Continuity and Handoff improvements in iOS 8. If MaaS360 can gain preferred status in accessing the iPhone, this would be a huge coup for IBM and a big problem for Samsung, Microsoft, and Blackberry. How much of IBM’s Big Data and Analytics will actually be provided in this offering? IBM has been quiet around the integration of Cognos, SPSS, OpenPages, and Algorithmics, and Watson into the iPhone, but the potential is obvious. IBM has already launched an Analytic Answers service that allows customers to access SPSS predictive analytics just by uploading data and downloading results. Their Watson Analytics tools, which were previously highlighted by analyst James Haight, are directly competing against other easy-to-user analytics tools targeted at line of business analysts. And, as anyone who has watched Jeopardy is aware, Watson is a formidable technology that currently needs help in gaining market use cases and market share. The Apple partnership could help with all of these areas, especially if IBM can share its Watson APIs with the vast Apple developer community.
Will Apple iCloud play nice with IBM’s Cloud? Where will the content, applications, and data ultimately be stored?
Although the short-term strategy will be business as usual, the long-term strategy for these cloud services needs to be determined. Since mobile and cloud go hand-in-hand and the IBM/Apple partnership is predicated on providing an integrated mobile cloud, the cloud strategy needs to be made clear to potential customers. Corporate entities exploring an IBM/Apple enterprise cloud solution need to conduct their due diligence on this partnership’s plans for ongoing cloud interoperability.
Which companies are most challenged by this announcement?
As pointed out before, this is more than just a mobility announcement. On the handset side, Samsung, Google, and Blackberry are obviously paying attention. And on the enterprise mobility management side, VMWare, Citrix, MobileIron, Good Technology, and Apperian have to be thinking about their cloud and mobile application partnership options as well.
But the depth of this partnership means that cloud companies and even application platform as a service vendors need to look closely at this. Every cloud infrastructure company needs to think about how well they play with mobile devices and how they are partnered with key mobile endpoint and management vendors. Likewise, on the PaaS side, Salesforce’s Heroku, Pivotal, and Centurylink’s AppFog need to all reconsider the depth of their mobile application development in light of IBM’s and Apple’s special relationship.
These five posts describe the key questions that we see in the IBM/Apple enterprise mobility partnership. Please keep these points in mind as you decide how to work with IBM and Apple to support your enterprise mobility deployment. If you have any additional questions regarding IBM and Apple or would like for Blue Hill to provide greater strategic context to your mobility deployment, please email us and schedule a time to speak.