That word “comprehensive” in the title of this article is not exactly an overstatement. IBM has pulled together a new mobile solutions platform – or suite, or suite of suites – that does indeed deliver on everything and the kitchen sink as far as enterprise mobile software and mobile services are concerned.
To do so, the company is doubling down on mobility – literally, as IBM is doubling its investment in mobility. It’s an attempt to take mobile one stop shopping to its limits.
To make this grand plan a reality, IBM announced today what it has dubbed IBM MobileFirst. The feature set includes, among many other things, support for security, analytics, app development software, cloud-based services and what IBM considers deep mobile expertise born from its experiences, with evolving over 1,000 customers into mobile enterprises over the last few years.
Add to this its own evolving workforce of thousands of mobile experts, 270 patents in wireless innovations, and the 10 mobile-related acquisitions IBM has made in the past four years, and you certainly get that “everything and the kitchen sink” sense of things.
IBM MobileFirst is designed to help enterprises build a total and integrated mobile strategy – and emphasizes a top-down strategic approach over a more tactical grassroots approach. That is not to say that MobileFirst won’t support the latter – it does.
But IBM is clearly focused on encouraging businesses to take the larger strategic view of mobility.
Inherent to the platform in its entirety is the notion of agile mobile development – whether the plan calls for rapid BYOD deployment and securing devices, custom mobile application development, or creating mobile tools to take advantage of new business opportunities, the foundational goal is to get your business there fast and to drive new revenue growth – without cutting any corners.
Effectively taking advantage of an integrated mobility strategy means that business must, more often than not, tie together mobility, cloud services, connectivity to numerous enterprise back ends, big data collection and analysis – often in real time, social business integration and of course leading-edge security.
It’s a tall order to successfully pull off each individual piece of such a comprehensive strategy.
Doing so to maximum benefit across all of these components is a major undertaking – and no company, save for the likes of IBM and its competitors – such as SAP and Hewlett-Packard – are in a position to deliver on them. Further adding to the complications is the need to provide both a cloud-based and a managed services capability. Managed services leave enterprises strategizing about their business needs rather than their technical IT needs.
IBM MobileFirst Packs an Integrated Mobile Punch
The newly consolidated platform delivers the key elements of a mobile application and data platform with the management, security and analytics capabilities needed for most enterprises to successfully build their mobile strategies. Anyone familiar with IBM’s mobile offerings of the last several years will certainly recognize the core elements involved.
The key components of MobileFirst include:
IBM MobileFirst Platform: Updates include expanding the capabilities of IBM Worklight to simplify deployment, as well as the ability to deliver single sign-on capabilities for multiple applications. A new beta of the Rational Test Workbench for mobile helps to improve the overall quality and reliability of mobile apps.
IBM MobileFirst Security: IBM has extended its context-based mobile access control solutions and has expanded the mobile application vulnerability testing capabilities of AppScan, which now also provides support for Apple iOS apps.
IBM MobileFirst Management: New updates to IBM Endpoint Manager include enhanced support for BYOD programs and increased security standards that are critical for all facets of government – federal, state or local, and regulated environments – especially healthcare.
IBM MobileFirst Analytics: IBM is also expanding its Tealeaf CX Mobile solution to give enterprises more visual insight into mobile behaviors – this is absolutely critical for gaining a clear understanding for where improvements are needed and to create exceptional, consistent and delightful consumer experiences across a broad range mobile devices and mobile operating systems.
Of course no IBM platform would be complete without IBM also being able to supply expert global professional services capabilities – and for those larger companies that can afford it there are no better professional services to be had. Much o IBM’s global reputation rests on their professional services teams and it was inevitable that IBM would extend those services to mobility in a carefully planned way.
IBM now has thousands of mobile experts that have built deep enterprise mobility chops over the last few years across more than a dozen industries. IBM MobileFirst professional services teams will help customers establish mobile strategies, design and architect the actual IT requirements, and will implement them as well.
These services are defined as follows:
IBM MobileFirst Strategy and Design Services: Customers can look here to map out mobile strategies. The services include design skills from IBM Interactive to build compelling mobile experiences. IBM has also added a new Mobile Maturity Model, capable of assessing how well a business is progressing toward a mobile enterprise. New targeted Mobile Workshops, meanwhile, aim to help customers develop applications, architect infrastructure and accelerate mobile progress.
IBM MobileFirst Development and Integration Services: IBM offers services that help organizations roll out a mobile infrastructure and manage mobile application portfolios and BYOD environments. Enhanced Network Infrastructure Services for Mobile provide IT network strategy, optimization, integration and management. Mobile Enterprise Services for Managed Mobility help manage and secure smartphones, tablets and devices across a business. Mobile Application Platform Management helps speed deployment of mobile infrastructure to develop mobile applications more easily and quickly.
An Ecosystem of Mobile Resources for Business Partners and Developers
IBM hasn’t limited MobileFirst to products and services directly affecting customers. It has also looked to broaden the reach of the tools highlighted above through its extensive ecosystem of business and developer partners. These partners are critical to IBM’s outreach to as wide variety of customers as possible. It is usually the case that partners are the ones that best understand customer businesses inside and out – an absolutely critical component of getting any strategic mobile solution right.
These MobileFirst capabilities include:
For Developers: A newly announced relationship with AT&T that targets enabling developers to enhance mobile apps by using IBM Worklight to access AT&T’s APIs in the cloud. By doing so developers will have a powerful tool at their disposal to tap into AT&T capabilities to quickly and easily create mobile apps with features such as speech recognition and mobile payment capabilities. IBM is also rolling out new technical assets on developerWorks and CodeRally, a developer game community.
For Business Partners (ISVs, SIs and Resellers): With Ready for IBM MobileFirst, these important partners will easily be able to embed mobile technologies into their solutions. Software Value Plus delivers mobile certifications, workshops and a variety of business incentives.
For Academics: IBM is clearly leaving no stone unturned. MobileFirst also looks to help train new generations of mobile developers. IBM will offer new faculty grants for curricula development, and will make IBM Worklight available free of charge for the classroom and online training to teach both students and faculty to develop for mobile environments.
And finally, it simply would not be an IBM solution if IBM didn’t also find a way to include IBM Global Financing - the lending and leasing arm of IBM - in the mix. MobileFirst services here will help companies to affordably transform themselves into mobile enterprises. “Credit-qualified” customers can take advantage of simple and flexible lease and/or loan packages for the IBM MobileFirst portfolio. The goal is to allow any business to acquire essential mobile technology and services while also managing cash flow more effectively.
All in all, it is truly a whale of a program. As with anything IBM, it strives to be comprehensive. For those large companies that can afford it – and more often than not this means for those companies with substantial scale that need to get their mobile acts together quickly – IBM is now there to help. If a company is already a Big Blue shop the odds are those customers will look to MobileFirst first, or even as a replacement for a wide assortment of third party platforms they have cobbled together over the last several years.
And with IBM Global Financing ready to step in for credit-worthy customers, what could be easier or safer? An interesting question indeed.
IBM has pulled together a good website home for IBM MobileFirst – complete with nice visuals and a detailed storyline. Check it out.
Edited by Braden Becker