At first it seemed like a rather unlikely partnership: the consumer-driven, flashy, fashion-forward Apple and the business-oriented, enterprising, and buttoned-down IBM. The companies make possibly the ultimate ‘odd couple’ in the tech industry. But one year and the release of 42 applications later, it seems to be working, giving both companies what they were looking for.
Apple was looking to get further into the enterprise market, get more business verticals, and sell more hardware. As Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, put it at the time of the announcement, “We knew that we needed to have a partner that deeply understood each of the verticals; that had scale, that had a lot of dirt under their fingernails so to speak from really understanding each of these verticals and we found a kindred spirit in IBM.”
IBM wanted to make business software less clunky and more user-friendly, and, according to Katharyn White from IBM, introduce “the wow factor” to it. “The goal of the partnership is bring to our work lives, the same experience we have in our personal lives,” she stated back in March.
In other words, the goal of this partnership is to create next-generation business software that looks and feels more like consumer apps while still connecting to the existing corporate systems. As Gartner analyst Van Baker explains how this Apple/IBM joint software works, “Basically they are simple apps driven by strong backend processes. They have a reasonable number of active engagements and a significant pipeline for their apps and each app deployment tends to drive several additional engagements so the land and expand strategy is working for them.” This will make work life easier for employees, and so far the new apps are solving problems in 10 industries and 40 job roles. Another analyst, Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research, calls the Apple/IBM partnership “the yin and yang of mobile.”
Thus far, the partners have kept this venture fairly low profile, but many hope that, as it progresses, the companies will speak out more about it and continue working together to give workers the best of both worlds.
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