In Apple’s iconic “1984’ commercial, it wasn’t a stretch to realize that the big brother figure was meant to represent IBM. That makes it very ironic that IBM now has more Macs, iPads, and iPhones deployed than any company except Apple.
The extent to which Apple devices are being used at IBM became clear during a presentation at MacWorld|iWorld last week by Chris Peppin that detailed the initiatives of Big Blue related to Apple. Those initiatives are pretty shocking considering the fact that IBM was once Apple’s number one adversary in the business technology market.
Obviously things have changed over nearly three decades. IBM not longer directly competes in the desktop computing space, having long ago sold its PC business to Lenovo. The company now focuses on software, business processes, and outsourcing core technology needs like enterprise help desks and custom software development.
More importantly, IBM has become one of the biggest supporters of employee choice and BYOD (bring your own device). The company not only allows employees to choose Apple solutions, their programs extent to explicitly creating iPhone and iPad versions of employees systems including messaging and unified communications as well as wikis and other collaborative tools. Some of these are solutions that IBM offers as products to outside companies and clients, but others are internal-only solutions.
This makes IBM a case study in meeting the demands of the consumerization of IT, a topic that I’ll be taking an in-depth look at over the coming weeks and months. Beyond that, it shows that the world’s largest companies can successfully integrate Apple OSes and devices.
Perhaps most importantly, IBM isn’t alone in this egalitarian perspective. It may be the biggest concentration of Apple tech in the workplace but it’s joined by other high profile companies like Lowes, Korea Telecom, SAP, Genetech, and others.
That means that the important message for business leaders and CIOs today is this: if Big Blue and other enterprises can make a success story with Apple’s iOS devices and Macs, why can’t we?