While most years the “C” in WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) seemed to stand for “consumer,” this year Apple gave the enterprise equal attention. Apple put work into updating and adding new features and capabilities that will make it easier for enterprises to maintain security and foster collaboration —without compromising the user experience that Apple customers have come to expect on iPhones and iPads.
One thing that has become clear is that no matter where you stand, there is work to be done to ensure enterprise apps will be ready this fall and there will be major business ramifications if you hesitate.
Research from Good Technology reveals that 76% of enterprises are now formally supporting BYOD. To meet the demand for personal devices in the workforce, the latest version of iOS includes features and updates that will help enterprises support BYOD, both from a security and a productivity standpoint.
Certain features and functions of applications, however, will not work if you have not made the necessary updates, potentially resulting in delays in use or app failure. What are some of the enterprise implications of these features?
The biggest security feature, however, is the activation lock. It will prevent the reactivation of a lost or stolen iPhone without the owner's iCloud account details. Within the MDM/BYOD conversation, this feature helps ease some of the fear of the CIO in regard to the lost or stolen iPhone that has access to the enterprise system.
Security: Apple has integrated features such as enterprise single sign-on, per-app VPN and activation lock, which will ease the user experience and increase security significantly, providing advantages that third-party solutions cannot, such as deep integration with iOS services and device features. With single-sign-on, users will be able to login once and authenticate across enterprise services. Some third-party mobile management solutions already do this, but the deep integration into iOS will make the process more seamless and enable a better user experience. Meanwhile, per-app VPN will provide enterprises with a more efficient access option and should lower the load on the company’s network.
With the new Multitasking APIs, enterprise apps can also keep content up to date while running in the background. It will provide a better experience for updating data after push notifications, and it will speed up app startup.
Enterprise productivity and collaboration: Enhancing security often sacrifices productivity and collaboration, but Apple has put steps in place to prevent this from happening, such as AirDrop Sharing for Apps. Enterprise app developers can integrate real-time sharing of documents and content, providing a more efficient platform for sales tools, presentation tools and knowledge/collaboration tools.
Control Center is another welcome feature that enhances productivity, which has been in Android for a while. Users can quickly access frequently used controls, such as toggling various antennas.
Enterprise Contextual Computing: Apple has now added iBeacons, which is Apple’s term for Low Energy Bluetooth or Smart Bluetooth. This feature will allow Apple devices to become a tighter part of the Internet of Things ecosystem. iOS devices can integrate with third-party low energy Bluetooth transmitters to enable indoor navigation (i.e. tours, maps, etc.), device presence awareness and automated physical-world workflow tracking (i.e. what service ticket should I work on based on what building I just walked into). All this indoor collection of location data can be done even without a GPS system installed.
In June 2013, Apple updated its developer website to note a 93% adoption rate of iOS 6 on iPhone, and 83% on iPad. This is far greater than the number of users that have adopted the most current version of Android’s mobile operating system.
Passbook’s Enterprise Implications: As of June 2013, Apple had 575 million iTunes customers, most of whom link credit cards to their accounts. A recent report estimates that Apple has more consumer credit cards on file than any other company in the world, including Amazon. If Apple is able to integrate a mobile payment tool into the Passbook app and connect to all of those credit cards, developers are much more likely to work with the platform. This could be a big boost for mobile couponing and bridging physical world campaigns with digital passes.
As further proof of iOS’s significance to the enterprise, Apple CEO Tim Cook reported that 94% of Fortune 500 and 75% of Global 500 companies are testing or deploying iPads. With high adoption rates of iOS 7 anticipated, the enterprise implications should not be ignored.
Enhanced security and other enterprise-focused features pave the way for Apple to become the enterprise device brand of choice, especially with the increasing prevalence of tablets in the workforce. Enterprises are overwhelmingly choosing iPads as their tablet for business use.
The end-user experience is what ultimately drives the success of an app, however, and the changes with iOS 7 will affect the design as well as how users interact with applications. In order to avoid these laps in functionality for enterprise apps, organizations need to act now and prepare for the rollout this September. If not, businesses may be faced with losing their audience — which ultimately means a loss in profit. Those that make the leap have the opportunity to set themselves apart.