IBM isn’t the first company to the enterprise-mobile game, but it seems determined to make its mark on the space with a portfolio of security, analytics and app-development software for handheld devices and the IT infrastructure that backs them.
This “MobileFirst” initiative bonds together a number of IBM acquisitions over the past few years—if nothing else, it’s a testament to Big Blue’s ability to combine its intellectual-property and patents into a holistic platform.
“To date, mobile computing has been dominated by discussions of new smartphones, operating systems, games and apps,” Robert LeBlanc, senior vice president of middleware software for IBM, wrote in a statement. “But enterprises have yet to tap into the potential of mobile business. Just as the Internet transformed the way we bank, book vacations and manage our healthcare, mobile computing is also transforming industries.”
More businesses than ever are building customized app stores, with an eye toward giving their employees very specialized tools; various software platforms offer road warriors the ability to check on data and engage in their daily workflow while on the move. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to argue that any business without an eye toward mobile is on a one-way trip to obsolescence.
How does IBM approach this crowded marketplace? MobileFirst features updates to IBM Endpoint Manager, most notably enhanced support for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs and the security issues that come with them. IBM has also integrated its Tealeaf CX Mobile solution into the package, giving enterprises a view into customers’ mobile behaviors. On the security front, MobileFirst boasts mobile-application vulnerability testing for iOS apps in addition to context-based mobile access controls. There’s single sign-on capability for multiple applications.
On the business-partner side of the equation, IBM is offering something called Ready for IBM MobileFirst, which allows software vendors to embed mobile technologies into their products. IBM has also made Worklight, its mobile-development platform, available for free to classrooms and via online training.
Of course, IBM faces sizable competition in the enterprise-mobility and analytics space from other tech giants, including SAP and Oracle. Amidst that crowded marketplace, MobileFirst could allow IBM to make a more concerted effort for businesses’ budgets.