• An agreement between Apple and AT&T allows the operator to simplify customer enrollment, device configuration, activation, and MDM software integration
• An expanded agreement with Apple and SAP uses on-device machine learning to help customers create custom, intelligent iOS apps that use augmented reality (AR), and enhance business tasks
While Apple has been successfully courting enterprise buyers for many years with the iPhone and iPad, recent alliances suggest new ways for it to penetrate business accounts. Many businesses already appreciate Apple’s built-in security, while Android devices and laptops provide more variety and less of a vendor lock-in. MDM software for first-line device management and security is about the same on either platform today. So what are the kinds of agreements that Apple is making lately to fortify its position?
Apple and AT&T
AT&T is working with Apple as part of the latter’s Business Manager Program (formerly known as the Device Enrollment Program) to make it easy for customers to get their Apple devices up and running. The key benefit to the customer is a zero-touch experience (compared to an average consumer experience where it may be a time consuming process to configure, activate, and get all the contacts and apps set up on their new device). A new business customer only has to complete three or four steps and the device will be auto-configured with their profile; the MDM program of the customer’s choice is also downloaded. So if a customer buys an Apple device from AT&T, reduced IT activity is required. To get there, AT&T has had to work closely with Apple in order to build in API integration between the AT&T and Apple Business Manager platforms. While there may also be opportunities for AT&T to sell additional MDM licenses, this is minimal since most customers already have an existing license. For SMB customers without MDM, AT&T will provide a free license using IBM’s MaaS360.
The real benefit to AT&T is that a better customer experience will yield more lines from these customers in the future. AT&T also doesn’t charge for the process of device enrollment/configuration/activation/MDM download. This arrangement with Apple is non-exclusive but AT&T has made a significant investment in it. AT&T also provides professional services if necessary or desired by the customer to help them select and configure MDM or other enterprise mobility services.
Apple and SAP
Announced this week at the annual Sapphire conference, the new agreement between Apple and SAP has to do with mobile application development. Not only can developers use SAP machine learning (ML) models on the device to build custom apps that facilitate business tasks, using AR, but the ML models can be downloaded to the device and the apps can work offline, to be updated when connected to the SAP cloud platform. Examples include use of AR-powered mobile apps for tasks such as machine maintenance and shelf stocking. SAP and Apple have already had an agreement since 2016 that enables SAP mobile apps such as human resources and expense management to run natively on Apple devices but the new alliance also includes the ability for them to run on Macs and extends to more SAP software applications such as procurement management. Companies can also use SAP’s Leonardo platform to build mobile apps for Apple devices.
Apple also has a strong relationship with IBM that quickly yielded over 100 business apps when it went live in 2016, as well as alliances with DocuSign and Box. It has also forged alliances and reseller deals with key ITSPs, consultants, developers and integrators such as Accenture and Deloitte.
While Apple’s global market share of mobile devices (measured by iOS vs. Android) was only about 18% at the end of 2018, its share in the enterprise is quite high; this is due in part to its stronger security position, which is attributed to Apple’s strong control over its hardware, software, and firmware ecosystem.