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Fueled by consumer-sales success, the iPhone has invaded the Enterprise. There is no going back.
According to recent surveys, when companies offer employees a choice between iPhone and other smartphones, users take iPhones. Although historically, Blackberry has been considered the backbone of Enterprise mobile deployments, the single-vendor model is eroding.
Corporate users now demand IT support their iPhones, in-house developers have witnessed the power of the iPhone App model, and numerous visionary companies have already built and launched "Custom Enterprise Apps" to meet their business goals.
Within two years, iPhone will be the Enterprise smartphone market-share leader or, at minimum, a peer device. It will have earned a top leadership position in specific industries-retail and medical specifically-where organizations have the vision to leverage the "app model" for competitive advantage. Some analysts see a three-way game emerging between Blackberry, iPhone and all other devices.
Of course, carrier coverage, device capabilities, and IT support (as it relates to security and management) are all critical to success. Ultimately, though, the winners will be decided by users, not IT managers-assuming blocking issues (such as network coverage) are not a factor.
Let's look at recent history to understand why iPhone will emerge as a clear winner. Since its launch in June of 2007, the iPhone has exploded in popularity, with over 35 million units sold to date. Users love their iPhones. Naturally, most of these users work in companies, both large and small.
While it's true large Enterprises have taken their time adopting the iPhone, Apple has quietly added support for Exchange Mail, and beefed-up encryption, VPN support, and basic management capabilities such as password enforcement and remote-wipe to make IT folks (somewhat) happier about supporting the device.
Key reasons why the iPhone will win:
- Employees demand a great user experience and their employers will respond to support the iPhone. The engagement users have with their iPhone is similar to the Crackberry phenomenon years earlier, but the personal productivity in home and work life has increased measurably, and no one wants to carry two devices. Enterprises are responding by supporting the iPhone and re-thinking their mobile strategies based on the bottom up pressure.
- Smart businesses are seeing increased ROI and reduced TCO from iPhones. Rather than just being a managed expense, the iPhone enables critical business goals such as collaboration, sharing, and the ability to build custom apps and gain competitive advantage relatively quickly and easily. Yes, the Blackberry has apps. But historically these have been focused on logistics and operations and have been costly to develop and maintain. The iPhone makes it possible for virtually all business functions, including sales, marketing, and HR, to develop truly innovative solutions. Plus, B-to-C apps can provide new models for sales, support, and service. Finally, the cost of ownership for iPhones is proving to be lower than Blackberries as companies avoid the "Blackberry Tax" imposed by BES. What's more, users are more self-sufficient, lowering support costs.
- Apple is investing in Enterprise support for the iPhone - and IT is beginning to believe. When iPhone first launched, Apple clearly focused on the consumer market more than the Enterprise. IT departments were justifiably skeptical about the cool iPhones executives were showing-off around the office. However, Apple is focusing on the Enterprise both from the engineering side - with new releases - and the sales side by enhancing the team with Enterprise mobile veterans. Much needs to be done, including continued improvement on device management, application deployment, and security. But Apple appears to be on-track to provide this support. There is still cynicism about Apple from hard-bitten IT managers, but Apple appears to be handling these concerns while maintaining the ease of use held so dearly by users.
The iPhone is already on a great trajectory within the Enterprise. What's really interesting and exciting is the iPhone's stealth entry occurred organically, without a strong marketing or sales focus (at least compared to the consumer side).
At all levels of the organization-from the CEO to the salesperson-demand has been driven solely by users. Just imagine what can happen when Apple puts its back to the wheel and starts to push the Enterprise market - especially as it considers leveraging iPhone acceptance as a way to engage IT about getting more Macs into the Enterprise beyond the traditional marketing areas.
In fact, the iPhone has created a halo effect that is causing companies to rethink their platform altogether. Look around. You will undoubtedly see more and more MacBook Pro laptops.
If Apple can continue to amaze users with its technology provide a great user-experience, and simultaneously provide IT with enough to keep things under control, the iPhone will win. Because, as I said, the disruption in the market has been driven by users, who are going to use their iPhone whether IT says it's OK - or not. As long as users continue to drive mobile adoption in the Enterprise, it's Apple's game.