Mobile and cloud computing services were the pandemic’s silent technology heroes, allowing people to connect and work anywhere. As we progress toward resuming normal business practices, such as return to office and travel, companies will continue to leverage mobility to deliver better customer experiences.
Market leaders recognize that creating a winning customer experience requires delivering a best-in-class employee experience. Increasingly, companies realize that it’s essential to update devices to support new workflows such as contactless delivery, richer collaboration and instant access to data through on-device analytics.
In the early days of enterprise mobility, employees drove the adoption of consumer-focused mobile solutions within the enterprise. Today, organizations need to embrace technologies that offer simplicity with the security and manageability required by enterprise IT leaders. This has proven to be a tricky but not insurmountable challenge.
Apple grabbed the bulk of the enterprise mobile market early on but received criticism from IT on manageability and security. To combat this, it added programs such as Apple Developer Enterprise Program and acquiring Fleetsmith, a software solution that helps IT more easily onboard and manage iPhones and Macs.
While Apple focuses on delivering simple rich consumer experiences, it hasn’t abandoned the enterprise nor security. One could argue Apple has never been more enterprise-focused.
Security by design, the Apple way
For years security threats plagued the software layer, but now threats target the deepest layers of devices, the hardware and BIOS layers. Organizations need to develop a layered approach to security that spans from the lowest layers of the hardware through the application layer. In February, it shared released a 200-page tome outlining its platform security initiatives.
Apple’s guide shared how it’s approaching hardware security by design embedding security into silicon with its M-chip architecture. In discussion with Apple executives, the company shared how it’s marrying its silicon-based security with operating system security (macOS, iOS, watchOS and iPadOS), encryption and secure enclaves to harden PCs, tablets and smartphones. Intel has discussed this approach as well and works closely with Microsoft to create this type of security. However, one has to wonder if owning the entire stack from the hardware through the operating system layer provides Apple with an edge in defending against a myriad of complex attacks. Regardless of the answer, it’s essential to understand that the new silicon was designed with security in mind and the company is connecting hardware and software security.
Targeted enterprise sales efforts
While Apple’s store design and sales are a constant top of discussion in retail circles, few people may notice how Apple works with partners to deliver tailor-made industry sales events. For example, one of Apple’s partners posted about an educational sales event in April called “Apple in Restaurants. Enterprise POS Unlocked”. ( I attempted to attend the digital event, but alas, It was only for restaurant professionals. While I enjoy cooking, Lopez Research didn’t qualify for attendance.)
Big deals, partnerships and new experiences unlock opportunities
Yesterday, Apple and AT&T Business announced Delta selected the companies for a significant device upgrade. Delta will equip its 19,000+ flight attendants with 5G-enabled iPhone 12s to enhance the employee and passenger experience. While Delta had previously worked with Apple and AT&T, the renewed commitment shows that both companies are delivering solutions and experiences that are worth an upgrade. For example, AT&T shared that the combination of the iPhone and AT&T’s 5G has the potential to create new augmented reality (AR) employee experiences, such as accurately assessing in-cabin inventory quickly using AR with the camera on iPhone 12.
Or the system could be leverage AR for immersive training to help flight attendants perform critical tasks—from safety checks to passenger assistance— from nearly anywhere. In an increasingly competitive environment, employee experience matters. It’s the gateway to delivering a superior customer experience. Clearly, Delta feels AT&T and Apple can provide this.
Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri also shared two other examples of enterprise momentum during the latest earnings calls. He said, “Openreach in the U.K. has started equipping tens of thousands of field engineers with iPhone 12 to speed up their deployment of broadband services to homes around the country. And UCHealth, a large health care provider in Colorado, reduced per patient vaccination time from 3 minutes to only 30 seconds largely by moving from PC stations to iPhones. This has allowed their staff to rapidly scan and register new patients and vastly increase their daily vaccination capacity.”
The enterprise market is difficult to please but offers tremendous growth opportunities for PC and mobile device makers. With the launch of new M1-powered devices, a strong focus on on-board AI and an upgrade cycle to 5G on the horizon, I expect we’ll be hearing much more about Apple in the enterprise.