iOS in the Enterprise: Apple's Rise to the Top
It wasn’t that long ago that Apple was all but absent from the enterprise world. Dell, Microsoft, IBM, HP, and Blackberry had a stronghold on the market. Apple was popular in design shops and production studios but when it came to big scale enterprise adoption, it wasn't even close. It's true that Apple had the iPod but it was simply a MP3 player and never pretended to be anything more than a personal music player.
Fast forward to today and the landscape has changed dramatically. Microsoft is still the dominant operating system and PC manufacturers like Lenovo still control PC sales. But Apple has become a serious contender for enterprise marketshare and, in typical Apple fashion, they've done it in a non-traditional way. Say hello to iOS.
Last year during an earnings call, Tim Cook stated, “It’s clear that the enterprise area has huge potential, and we’re doing well from a percentage of companies that are using iPhone and iPad. It’s up to unbelievable numbers. The iPhone is used in 97% of the Fortune 500, and 91% of the Global 500, and iPad is used in 98% of the Fortune 500 and 93% of the Global 500.”
For a company that has always been a small player in enterprise, percentage numbers in the 90% range are unbelievable. And yet, they are very believable. Apple has taken brilliant and carefully planned steps to be in the position it is in today.
When the iPhone launched in 2007, it was an amazing device. It ditched the physical keyboard and stylus competitors were relying on and in turn created a beautiful device with an intuitive web browsing experience. Success of the iPhone could, with very little argument, be attributed to gorgeous hardware, its simple and powerful operating system, and Apple's top notch reputation. But more than any of those, it looks like the app store, especially when it came to business use cases, has really been the powerful driver in terms of adoption and sustained success. When Apple released the iPhone 3G, their TV commercial confidently proclaimed, “There’s an app for that.” And over 6 years later, that claim couldn’t be more true.
In fact, creating “an app for that” is how EventBoard was born. When the iPad was released, we realized it could help solve a problem in our office. When it came to booking a conference room, there was always the question of whether or not the room had actually been reserved or if it was available. We wanted an app that would run on the iPad and sit outside the conference room, acting as a meeting room display. When we realized there actually wasn’t an “app for that”, we created it ourselves. That app has now grown into a platform for meeting room scheduling, facility management, and key analytics. As adoption of EventBoard has grown, so too has its diverse implementation. EventBoard is now deployed in hospitals, production studios, tech startups, law offices, and universities. And the thing is, we’re just getting started. Then again, so is Apple.
In July of last year, Apple and IBM announced a new partnership together. According to Recode, reporting at the time, “the deal calls for IBM and Apple to develop more than 100 industry-specific applications that will run on the iPhone and iPad, including applications for security, analyzing corporate data and managing the devices themselves.” On December 10th, Apple and IBM launched the first wave of those applications with 10 all-new iOS enterprise apps. And on February 3rd, Apple announced plans to begin hiring individuals to help roll out and oversee the sales teams pushing Apple/IBM solutions for enterprise customers.
It's no secret that Apple is ambitious. They believe in the iPad's ability to play a key role in enterprise, regardless of the industry or business structure. Which is why, rather than producing ads talking about how fast the iPad is or how much ram it has, they focus on actual product benefits. One of their most recent spots, "Change", highlights how truly versatile the iPad is. Whether it's to scan barcodes in a bookstore, act as a cash register in a coffee shop, or display flight information at 37,000 feet in the cockpot of an airline, the iPad can do it all. Now students, explorers, photographers, and businesses are relying on the iPad every day. That's powerful.
Apple has been busy developing new tools and capabilities to create long lasting relationships in the enterprise. Apple doesn’t want to be just a player in enterprise. They want to own the enterprise. They want the iPad and iPhone to be as ubiquitous in the workplace as the iPod was in the gym. Every move they make is strategic to that end. It’s happening and it’s happening fast. The ride is exciting and furious and it’s not slowing down. So go ahead and buckle up. We know we are.
Photo Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns