Apple and IBM’s program for iOS mobile app development in the enterprise is broadening its reach this year as more businesses pursue apps that can transform how their employees work, according to IBM. “We are engaged with more than 1,000 clients across the world,” said Mahmoud Naghshineh, IBM’s general manager in charge of the MobileFirst for iOS partnership with Apple.
IBM also plans to integrate Watson analytics and cognitive differentiation to its growing portfolio of iOS apps in 2017, according to Naghshineh. Once a new app is deployed and it becomes valuable for the business, the next step is to make it smarter, he said.
Hundreds of businesses have deployed apps to date and more are in development or at least in the sales cycle that leads to design and testing of new apps, according to Naghshineh. Changing the way people work, which was the original goal of Apple and IBM’s partnership, is also resulting in rapid digital transformation for many businesses, he said.
“Instead of this big bang, huge transformation that starts on the backend… we have established a model that you can go about in a staged approach,” Naghshineh said. “Test it, iterate, make it better, deliver the results, see the benefits and go to the next [app].”
The foundation for many of these apps is already established in a group of more than 100 iOS apps that IBM developed for industry-specific functions in the first 17 months of the MobileFirst for iOS initiative. That portfolio serves as a starting point for many businesses that have similar functions and requirements, based on their industry and profession, according to Naghshineh. Those apps can be customized to integrate with various platforms and business tools, but IBM also helps large enterprise develop apps that meet specific infrastructure needs, he said.
“To a large degree what we have done is take that portfolio and bring it to market. We’re going to continue to enhance the portfolio,” Naghshineh said. Backend needs are the most common delay in app development, so the entire cycle to deployment could take weeks or beyond six months, depending on the situation, he said.