A couple years back, in the midst of mass hysteria around the iPhone and iPad, I observed how Apple was dominating the enterprise without even marketing to the enterprise (click here for part two). While big IT vendors spend millions of dollars a year to get their messages to CIOs, Apple was flooding enterprises with armies of volunteer emissaries — that is, employees bringing in their own devices to do, or at least support, enterprise work.
What's an enterprise tech giant to do in the face of the most zealous non-competition on earth? If you can't lick them, join them, IBM says, announcing that it was teaming up with Apple to deliver 100 business apps that will run on iPhones and iPads. IBM also will begin to sell Apple products to its enterprise customers. So, Apple is finally starting to develop a formal enterprise channel.
As insurance executives, I'm sure many readers see — and use themselves — Apple iPhones and iPads used as personal productivity and communications tools in their operations. The IBM-Apple arrangement now takes things to the next level: opening up back-end data and analytics across enterprises. As IBM puts it on its website: “this exclusive global partnership will deliver a new class of apps that connect users to big data and analytics right on their iOS devices with more ease and efficiency than ever before.”
The apps that eventually will be available on Apple devices will connect users to back-end enterprise data stores that previously took a lot of integration work to make happen, if at all. In fact, last year, when I spoke to Competing on Analytics author/guru Tom Davenport about mobile access to big data analytics, he was basically unimpressed with the progress on that front though, he said, all it would take is some simple apps to blow the field wide open.
As the partnership evolves, expect to see smartphones and tablets assume roles as primary clients for employees, field representatives and agents. I've already seen examples of claims adjusters using tablets and smartphones to take photos and have them immediately placed into case files at home offices, eliminating any lag time in processing claims. Now, the information may flow the other way as well.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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