When it comes to enterprise service offerings, Apple is not commonly mentioned. With consumer demand for mobile phones declining, could Apple’s new stream of growth come from its enterprise offerings?
Windows has always dominated the enterprise IT side of the house for decades now. Can Apple get a foot in the door via its offerings?
Apple has set up a few partnerships in the last year or so with key enterprise players such as CISCO, IBM and SAP. It appears that Apple is beginning to test the waters in this space.
With new ads promoting iPad Pro’s as the next generation computers, it can effectively position its products if iOS 10 can be seeded with features to bring a unique value offering to enterprises.
Where does Apple want to play?
Enterprise IT is huge in terms of scope and complexity. Companies such as Oracle, Microsoft and IBM have been at the forefronts of this market for decades offering their customers everything from simple RDBMS software to complex cloud based service offerings.
This is not an area where Apple ever had a meaningful presence. It will probably not make any sense for Apple to position itself in this category.
When you think of the brand Amazon, you are reminded of its humble beginnings. It was all about selling books online. Up until recently, the brand stood for best online retailing experience with amazing delivery services.
Now, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become a cornerstone of the company’s growth strategy. It leads in this market segment over Microsoft and Google.
All of a sudden, the customer has changed from the end user shopping for items to businesses looking for scalable cloud infrastructure. Amazon has been able to transform itself and adopt this new growth strategy while keeping its core business intact.
In the case of Apple, it appears that the path to enterprise offerings and B2B product lines is more transitional than transformational.
Apple will probably play in the market space, where it can easily establish a unique value proposition for its existing products such as the iPad Pro as well as take advantage of its software leadership when it comes to features such as Security and Mobility.
Where can it Play in order to win?
It only makes sense to play if it can win. At the end of the day, the shareholders will look for a meaningful ROI from investments to spur growth in this new line of business.
Apple has established itself as a premium product provider when it comes to iPhone, iPad and Macs. If you look around your workplace today, you will find most of the millennial sporting iPhones.
The familiarity of the iPhone and iPad among an enterprise’s employees, customers and other key stakeholders already provides Apple an advantage when it comes to positioning itself.
Today’s CIO’s worry about security of their IT infrastructure. Apple’s iOS platform has already proven itself to be very secure and has made a name for itself after the well publicized Apple vs FBI headlines earlier this year.
A study by Deloitte and MIT found that 77% of the millennial want better mobility programs at the workplace. As on Jan 2016, 44% of the total US Smartphone subscribers used Apple.
A study by comScore also found that while half of the millennial are on the Android platform, the iPhone is the Smartphone of choice, with 44% owning the Apple handset.
By year 2025, millennial will make up 75% of the workforce.
This 18 – 34 age group workers have come to use iPhones, iPads and Macs in their day to day lives and given a chance would prefer to use these products at their work place rather than carrying multiple devices.
Employees today prefer video and other messaging platforms for cross collaboration. Slack is a popular App among the new generation of workers. If Apple can position its iOS platform to address the mobility and enterprise collaboration needs of an enterprise, it can establish itself as a serious contender.
Companies are also trying to cut costs by improving people to desk ratios. As Millennial demand new mobility and telecommuting perks, companies are able to provide these benefits and also save costs in real estate. There is a business case to be made here.
This is definitely one area where Apple can position itself without risking massive capital investments.
To that end, Apple’s partnerships with IBM and SAP are going to come in handy. This will allow Apple to sell more iPhones and iPads to large enterprises. This is already beginning to take shape and was reported in NYTimes this month.
The other area is in healthcare costs. As healthcare costs rise, companies are trying to find innovative ways to reduce their burden for these costs and are encouraging their employees to be more fit and healthy.
Apple Watch would be an ideal platform via which Apple could provide numerous health and fitness offerings to employees of a corporation. This idea is not new. In the past companies such as Amgen have offered their employees free Apple Watch if the employee met his or her fitness goals.
Additional enterprise service offerings are also possible if Apple’s Watch 2.0 is successful and comes to become a main stay product. You can already use CISCO’s conference app on the Apple watch today.
What Capabilities is it building in order to win?
Apple’s new iOS 10
Apple’s new iOS 10, scheduled to be released this fall holds a lot of promise in shaping the market need around enterprise mobility. Apple’s partnership with CISCO promises a new enterprise mobility program.
Cisco Spark provides voice and video capabilities and will use the iOS 10 API’s to integrate with iPhone. The seamless voice and video calling will be a catalyst in shaping enterprise mobility programs.
In his blog, Rowan Trollope, CISCO SVP, outlines some of the features of this offering.
When you’re at work and on the go, your iPhone or iPad will simply “know” what’s the best available wireless access point for you—and will select it by default. This makes performance of all your apps, especially real-time apps like voice and video, much more reliable, particularly when you are on the move.
Cisco Spark is our platform for the future of work, and now it is completely optimized for your iPhone and iPad. With Cisco Spark app installed on iOS 10 you’ll be able to tap a contact in your address book and instantly make a VoIP call without having to launch a third-party app.
The integration doesn’t stop there, you’ll also enjoy other native iOS calling features with Cisco Spark—calls will now ring on the lock screen, just like a regular call, users will have access to mute and call waiting. Even more conveniently you can now ask Siri to use Cisco Spark to call contacts in your People app.
There is also joint collaboration between Apple and Cisco when it comes to service fulfillment and support for their enterprise customers.
For example, Cisco Solution Support will provide clients with centralized support for both Apple and Cisco technology, with experts who are your primary point of contact and own your case from first call to case closed.
Cisco Solution Support works in partnership with AppleCare for Enterprise coverage so that they can effectively manage support among the client’s Apple and Cisco teams to best resolve your case.
To help deploy a wireless network that is optimized to support iOS devices, Cisco also offers Wi-Fi assessment, planning, design, implementation and validation services.
Support for Third Party Developers
Apple and Cisco partnership also opened up new frontiers for Cisco Devnet, a developer program that encourages third party developers to build enterprise programs.
App developers can get the best network performance for their apps by using QoS to differentiate different types of data in iOS 10.
For example, real-time voice and video data can be treated differently from less-time critical web page data, thus enhancing the performance of your app and your network.
In his remarks during the last earnings call, Tim Cook mentioned that iOS 10 has probably seen the biggest changes since the iPhone was introduced.
I think some of these new strategic initiatives launched by Apple are eventually going to pay off and the revenue streams from the enterprise-based offerings could become significant in years to come.
iOS 10 is just the starting point!