At the end of last week, Apple announced a new partnership with SAP to revolutionize work on iPhone and iPad. After their somewhat unexpected partnership with IBM and the success of the MobileFirst apps this partnership almost seems par for the course. In fact, according to reports, IBM welcomed the partnership as they are close to both companies.
IBM isn’t explicitly mentioned as part of the pact disclosed Thursday, but its presence looms large and the company’s global services chief Bridget van Kralingen is almost gleeful about the potential for getting in on the action.
After all, IBM is tight with both companies. SAP is one of its closest allies for cloud services, and the two renewed their vows in early April. The two years since IBM and Apple teamed up to co-create a series of business mobile apps have also been fruitful: as of December, there were more than 100 of them in the ever-expanding catalog across a broad range of industries. Not coincidentally, van Kralingen was intimately involved negotiating the prenuptial details of both deals, if you will, in her role as senior vice president of IBM Global Services.
“You’ve got this confluence of skills—interactive experience and design, combined with strong analytics, all within the context of a specific industry,” she told Fortune.
Now that Apple has teamed up with SAP too, IBM’s consulting teams can work on an even broader range of mobile apps that link more closely to SAP’s widely used array of back-office systems, van Kralingen said.
Apple moving into the enterprise market has been inevitable ever since the rise of Mac sales that came with the introduction of the iPhone. As soon as users enjoyed using Macs, iPhones and iPads at their homes it was only time they would prefer to use them at work. With a pretty clear vision coming out of Apple now that the iPad is the device of the future that will essentially replace the laptop, it makes perfect sense they want to sell them to enterprises. Apple provides the hardware, SAP and IBM the cloud platforms, consultants and business apps.
From the beginning, Apple has seem to be focused on hardware, apart from maybe the Education & Health areas. Apple has referred out most enterprise app consulting. Is partnering with IBM really any different in their minds then referring similar business out to consulting shops? With the IBM partnership they have just lubed the rails for enterprises that have been legacy customers of Big Blue to start buying iOS devices. With SAP's cloud platform receiving the Apple stamp of approval and ensuring the SDK and apps are being built in Swift, Apple is helping SAP in the competitive cloud market and welcoming legacy SAP customers to buy iOS devices. Now add in the fact IBM has a partnership with SAP to consult on their platform and we call that a win/win/win for all three companies involved.
It was inevitable that Apple would enter the enterprise market in some manner. Previously, it was probably much more a passive effect but paired with two of the largest legacy companies in business software, Apple is now definitely weighing in.