On July 15th, IBM and Apple announced an exclusive partnership to bring Apple devices, business applications, and enterprise-grade services to enterprise customers. Touted to be a landmark partnership, this alliance aims to solve the long pending enterprise mobility issues like security, availability of vertical-specific, enterprise-class apps, deep data analytics and big data capabilities on the mobile among others. In a world where relationships between IT vendors are under constant change – only recently Microsoft and Salesforce.com announced a global partnership – Greyhound Research believes it’s critical to see this announcement holistically.
While more details on the announcement can be read in the press release, Greyhound Research believes this announcement (launched as part of IBM’s MobileFirst initiative) helps IBM make a visible commitment to the enterprise mobility space and will also open up fresh avenues for its ISVs and other partners. We believe this partnership does particularly well in light of some other key announcements by IBM in the recent past, specifically BlueMix, its Platform-As-A-Service (PaaS) and the Enterprise Cloud Marketplace. These announcements, put together, augment the acquisition of Fiberlink (MaaS360) that has already managed to reasonably dent other heavy weights like MobileIron and AirWatch (now acquired by VMware).
Greyhound Research believes while this announcement willdefinitely shake up the status quo in Emerging Markets, whether or not it’s a success will ultimately depend on how well it is executed (details below). We believe it’s important to view this change in context to IBM’s previously lacking top-of-mind-recall for Enterprise Mobility initiatives in Emerging Markets.
- CIOs need apps and solutions to work (equally well) across all OS platforms and form factors. Organisations in Emerging Markets are increasingly adopting BYOD programs and encouraging multi-OS, multi-form factor environments. While Apple products are making their presence felt in organisations – a study from Greyhound Research unveiled that 39% of enterprise workforce in Emerging Markets reported using one or more Apple products at the workplace – other OS platforms like Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry continue to exist and thrive both with consumers and organisations alike.
- Organisations in Emerging Markets need a partner that truly understands their pains. A recent study by Greyhound Research unveiled that more than 50 percent IT decision makers were unclear about the best approach to source mobility applications and better manage security. Further, more than 30 percent stated to be confused on choosing a preferred partner for enterprise-grade mobility apps – 27 percent of these stated to be developing apps using in-house team. For this IBM-Apple partnership to be successful, the proposed apps and solutions must serve country-specific industries like Islamic Banking and Microfinance including language support and adherence to regulatory restrictions on hosting and use of Cloud-delivered services.
- Clarity on commitment to invest in markets that matter. Countries like China and India that are attracting significant investments from players like Samsung, Blackberry, Google and Microsoft. Greyhound Research believes IT decision makers are wary of players that are shy of investing in feet on street that truly understand enterprise mobility (in specific) and can tailor solutions.
- Emerging Markets need special financial program to ensure successful adoption. Unlike the US market where Apple devices are bundled (hence cheaper) and organisations have deeper pockets to sponsor devices for employees, organisations in Emerging Markets do not always have such provisions. Greyhound Research believes organisations in Emerging Markets can stand to benefit from IBM’s heavy use of its financial arm, IBM Global Financing. IBM is known to use this tactic to reduce CAPEX payments and offer highly lucrative OPEX payments.
- Helping CIOs justify and transition existing investments. Mobile first approach is a priority for Organisations in Emerging Markets – a recent study by Greyhound Research unveiled that 70 percent organisations are either already running or planning a mobility technology expansion project. Despite a solid offering by IBM and Apple, Greyhound Research believes CIOs will find it challenging to stop their existing investments and justify a new approach to their mobility initiatives. Questions regarding the success of this alliance still remain unanswered and Greyhound Research advises IT Decision Makers to ask for clarity on some of the key issues raised above prior to making any significant changes to the existing mobility strategy.
- Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry will continue to be relevant for organisations. It’s unfair to assume this announcement means troubled times for other key players in the enterprise mobility arena. Greyhound Research expects this announcement will drive similar announcements – if not bigger – from other players like Google, Samsung, Blackberry and Microsoft. It’s critical for IT decision makers to not stop their investments with these players; instead it is advised to slow down additional investments till more clarity is offered from each of these players.
The union of IBM and Apple is undoubtedly picture perfect and the one that meets all possible tick boxes in the checklist – IBM understands enterprise and Apple masters mobile devices. Put together, there are no areas where conflict can arise. However, Emerging Markets presents numerous challenges and success is contingent on how well IBM and Apple are able to execute in local markets. In short, while this partnership is made in heaven, but only to be executed in realities of a competitive market.