People think of Apple as the iSomething, but it’s now time to think of them as an enterprise infrastructure player.
Strategic partnership announcements from IBM, Cisco and SAP have been met with hopeful uncertainty by many industry commentators, but Apple’s increasingly solid position in the enterprise was inevitable due to 2 completely separate driving forces:
1) Apple’s falling consumer sales
Apple’s mission has always been the same – to sell more devices and make more money. The growth in the consumer market for iPads and iPhones has been gradually decelerating as other vendors increasingly pose challenges around innovation and price, leading Apple to look for the next new market. Their heritage may be the consumer market, but their potentially lucrative future may lie with selling hardware to business professionals.
2) BYOD – employees love their iPhones.
Employees demands for a more flexible working life, combined with their love of their personal devices has been a huge driving force behind this new shift. The flood of employees using their own iPhones and iPads for work has forced companies to accommodate them. The familiar, intuitive interface of IOS means user preference has leaned strongly towards Apple products, and forward thinking businesses understand that if the employees choose their own tools, they are happier, more efficient, more productive and require less IT support. As Tim Cook’s recent press release said:
“Together with Cisco, we believe we can give businesses the tools to maximise the potential of iOS and help employees become even more productive using the devices they already love.”
Apple are so dynamic as a smartphone company, could they be as dynamic in the enterprise?
Apple have already invested huge amounts of time and energy into delivering enterprise solutions through a series of strategic partnerships, which given their previous lack of enterprise credibility was always the better choice than trying to develop the market themselves. And it’s worth remembering that Apple don’t tend to announce that they’re going to do something – they announce it when it is done. The time was right for the move into this market. Every business is now mobile to some degree, and a shift towards cloud based applications and mobility created the right environment for Apple to successfully enter the enterprise.
Apple changed the smartphone market – and they could do the same for the enterprise market.
As Cisco partners we can see first hand what their collaboration with Apple can bring to the table. As Apple and Cisco continue to explore working together with different technologies, businesses will reap the benefits of improved Wi-Fi connectivity, better calling environments and business application experience thanks to application prioritisation, all from their trusty iPhone.
My advice? Be ready to embrace change in the enterprise, because Apple are bringing it one partnership at a time.