Following the recent Apple WWDC developer conference, it’s worth looking at what they are doing to make their products more attractive to the enterprise?
iOS: The accidental leader?
As NetApp’s Mike Elgan noted recently, iOS became the leading operating system for enterprise mobility almost by accident, although it might be more accurate to say that it wasn't originally designed for the enterprise or expected to be such a hit. The iPhone was released as a consumer device like the iPod into a world of feature phones with a small smartphone market dominated by Nokia’s Symbian, while the Blackberry was the fully-locked-down enterprise mobility device of choice. No one expected that the consumers who bought the iPhone would consider it to be so much better than their work devices that they would break every policy imaginable to use them at work, and kickstart the BYOD or Bring Your Own Device phenomenon.
The iPhone became the dominant enterprise mobile platform for several reasons, including the ease of developing corporate apps, the iPhone’s popularity as a status symbol that made it the choice for senior managers who were able to insist on using it, and a few enterprise-friendly features that were added to iOS over time. However the biggest reason is that it has a large, loyal customer base that love the device and feel it makes them more productive.
In the pre-BYOD world, it was assumed that consumers wanted usability, photo quality and a wide choice of applications (or the ability to do anything with the device), whereas enterprise users weren't important because it was all about management tools and easy integration into corporate systems. BYOD showed that enterprise users are also consumers, and want the same things from a work phone that they do from a personal one.
A good demonstration of this is that the first time I saw BYOD in action was at the end of a meeting when one participant took out his iPhone, took a photo of the whiteboard we had covered in notes, and sent it to everyone in the meeting. The reaction around the table was “what a useful device; what else can we do with it?” That team had woken up to the potential of BYOD and enterprise mobility.
The iPad took off in a similar way: originally sold as a media consumption device, it has become the enterprise mobility device to take to business meetings with an array of apps that let you present, collaborate, take notes and network far more effectively than was previously possible, and you can even catch up with that latest TV series on the train on the way home.
Possibly as important as any enterprise functionality is the way that Apple sells and supports iOS devices for business in its retail stores. I recently had a problem with my iPhone and while it was being repaired (which happened easily and seamlessly, by the way) the store staff were keen to discuss whether I used it for business, what apps and functionality I liked, what requirements it filled and so on. This showed a real commitment to making iOS devices easy for business users to get started with. iOS devices in the enterprise also lead to Mac sales as you need to use a Mac in order to deploy enterprise apps and settings to iOS.
Apple Adding Enterprise Features
The recent preview of iOS8 shows that Apple is now very deliberately targeting the enterprise mobility market both by reinforcing the user experience that got it this far but also by providing features that make it a more attractive choice for IT.
The newly-announced Device Enrollment Program allows corporate-issued iOS devices to automatically configure and access corporate apps, reducing the time and support needed to get a new device working; and LDAP is a key component as it brings auditability to the iOS deployment with account control and authentication.
Meanwhile, the ability to passcode-protect corporate data on the device, by protecting access to the calendar, contacts, mail, third-party apps and more mean greater security for the enterprise while fingerprint unlocking means the user doesn’t have a headache accessing that data. VIP messages allow users to keep track of important conversations more easily and even small things like automatic VPN connectivity could make a big difference to the user.
Overall, iOS8 brings advances with:
- Simplified IT administration and security, between MDM tools; enterprise grade security including encryption, per app iCloud controls and certificate-based single sign-on; and managed book and PDFs to easily deliver content
- Improved application development, with the TouchID API, document provider APIs, content filtering and extensibility, not to mention the new Swift language
- Greater ease of use and productivity with improved mail, seamless working between iOS and Mac, improved calendar and peer-to-peer AirPlay
I don't want to go into too much technical detail here, but if you are interested you can find a more detailed breakdown here.
From the enterprise mobility perspective, features like Continuity, which allows users to pick up work where they left off across multiple Apple devices and the ability to create purpose-built keyboards for specific task-related apps could help increase productivity.
iOS is unlikely to completely own the enterprise mobility space in a BYOD world, but it is certainly set to continue its strong performance.
In addition, Apple and IBM announced a partnership yesterday, to aggressively go after the enterprise market. Here is an excerpt from The New York Times, "In a deal that could deepen Apple’s sales to corporations and strengthen IBM’s position in business software, the two companies announced a wide-ranging partnership intended to spread advanced mobile and data analysis technology in the corporate world."
David Akka, MBA, M.Sc.
Managing Director, Magic Software Enterprises UK Ltd.
Thanks for sharing Dave!
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.