Thursday, September 11, 2014

Enterprise Implications of the iPhone 6, iOS8 and the Upcoming Apple Watch

My interest in the new iPhone 6, iOS 8 and the upcoming Apple Watch is more than just personal. I'm part of the team responsible for enabling "MobileFirst" for 435,000+ IBM employees world-wide.

Inside IBM, we support three mobile platforms: Apple iOS, Google Android and BlackBerry. IBM provides corporate owed devices to select employees in addition to offering a BYOD or Bring Your Own Device program. At present, there are over 125,000 smartphones and tablets in use inside IBM.

Apple's iPhone/iOS8/Watch/Payments event and press release on Tuesday has far-reaching implications for the enterprise - including IBM which recently entered into a partnership with Apple.  Many IBM employees will be upgrading their phones to the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus on September 19.  In addition, many iPhone 5S, 5, 4S, iPad 2, 3, 4, Air, iPad Mini (standard and retina) and iPod Touch 5 will be upgrading to iOS 8 when it's released on September 17.  There are a number of key features in iOS 8 that will appeal directly to enterprises including:
  • Expanded data protection
  • Automatic reply (e.g. out of the office), calendar free/busytime search, swipe, drag to flag, mark and delete e-mails, per message S/MIME, VIP thread.  Many enterprises run the business on email and saving just a few seconds each time a user checks e-mail can add up.  
  • iCloud Drive. Includes the ability to access files from both iOS and OS/X without creating duplicates by copying to multiple iOS applications (containers). In addition, Apple is including storage provider extensions in iOS 8 for any app to connect to storage providers (e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive etc.).  This feature also introduces security issues with storing confidential, corporate data on the cloud.
  • Increased inter-app functionality and usability such as the ability to annotate a PDF file from within the mail application. 
  • API for Touch ID allows integration with applications for authentication.  Today, Touch ID is only used to unlock the device and making iTunes purchases.  IBM enforces a device password on mobile devices but also supports Touch ID to unlock the iPhone 5S which is a huge productivity gain for users.  The alternative is entering an 8-digit, alphanumeric password after 15 minutes of inactivity.   It will be great to be able to use Touch ID as an alternative to entering passwords for both enterprise and consumer applications.  This feature will become even more useful when Apple releases new iPads with Touch ID 
  • A new programming language, Swift, compliments Objective-C and should make it even easier for application developers to create mobile applications quickly. 

The addition of NFC to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the upcoming Apple Watch offers a wealth of possibilities for the enterprise!  For example, enterprises could sunset plastic employee badges and move to a digital badge, stored on the iPhone that could be used to open doors.  Apple Payment uses proven NFC technology and the Apple focus on the user experience, security and the partnerships with banks and retailers will help drive the adoption of mobile payments.   This introduces opportunities for IBM to assist clients with developing solutions that leverages Apple Payments.

How will Apple's announcements impact the deployment of iOS solutions at your enterprise?

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