When IBM and Apple entered into a partnership last year, it was out of naked self-interest from both companies. IBM has been financially struggling as of late, and recognizes that the mobile market is essential to their long-term survival. Apple, meanwhile, is a top-performing brand with loyal customers and a wealth of certain niche employees like graphic designers, but has yet to make massive inroads into the enterprise market. Their partnership to build new apps for business took care of both those problems.
And the newest batch of enterprise apps from IBM and Apple, announced today at Barcelona’s Mobile World Conference, the smartphone world’s biggest trade show, actually look pretty awesome. The three new apps include a real-time data dashboard for financial advisors, a data-analysis platform for retail buyers designed to spot low-cost, high-margin items, and an app for airlines that allows gate staff to immediately change the itineraries for travelers who miss connections.
On-record clients for IBM and Apple’s enterprise apps include Air Canada, American Eagle Outfitters, drugstore chain Boots UK, Citi, and Sprint. In press pictures provided to Fast Company, the apps are primarily shown being used on iPads as opposed to iPhones.
Early feedback from partners was positive. “Mobile technology unlocks new levels of convenience and accessibility for our customers. The pilot of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Sales Assist app will seek to explore how we can further empower our colleagues to be able to turn each customer interaction into a unique and personal experience,” Robin Phillips of Boots UK said in a statement. “Boots colleagues will have access to real-time data and insight from across the company in the palm of their hands, allowing them to offer shoppers even greater levels of service–including real time stock availability and easy in store ordering.”
The joint program, called (as indicated above) IBM MobileFirst, unveiled its first wave of apps in late 2014. IBM appears to be targeting specific industries, such as airlines, insurance companies, and the government sector, which have both deep pockets and relatively older technology backends.