A lot has changed since Steve Jobs flipped off IBM 30 years ago. Photo: Andy Hertzfeld
2014 will go down as one of the biggest years in Apple history. The stock hit record highs. The company’s first wearable was revealed. And Apple dropped $3 billion on its biggest acquisition ever. But of all the huge news Apple dropped in the last 12 months, nothing is likely to have as big an impact as the previously unthinkable announcement that Apple and IBM buried the hatchet and partnered up.
The move was significant not only for the historic aspect of the two rival tech titans uniting, but also for how it will impact all of us in the workplace. In his final note of the year, top Apple analyst Horace Dediu dubbed the IBM partnership “the most significant technology news of 2014.”
That may sound ridiculous considering how much hype Apple Watch is getting ahead of its release, but Dediu points to the first wave of apps created by the partnership. These offer an early indication of just how transformative the relationship could be. For the first time, enterprise apps are being designed for their users (the employees) rather than their employers.
Just take a look at the difference between IBM’s new Expert Tech app compared to the closest equivalent from Oracle, and see which one you’d rather work with:
Even if an app is for inside your business, it needs to deliver an insanely great user experience.
Almost every major company has plans to develop a range of iOS apps (if they haven’t created some already). In fact, one of the reasons that enterprise app stores are becoming as popular as they are in business is that they fulfill two critical needs. One of those is to easily distribute internal apps to staff members. (The other is to point users to suggested or required apps from Apple’s App Store.)
One thing that every company developing an internal app needs to keep in mind is that users are becoming more tech savvy and comfortable selecting and using iOS apps. That can be a good thing for the whole enterprise app store concept. It let’s users choose and manage their selection of apps on their own without help from IT.
It also means that most iOS users are sophisticated enough to know when an app is poorly designed. That places an extra burden on anyone developing iOS apps, particularly if there are equivalent public apps that users can install as partial or complete replacements for a poorly built internal app.