IBM recently launched IBM MobileFirst, a blended offering of products, services, and strategy consulting that's focused on helping enterprises make the move into enterprise mobility. Recently, I had a chance to speak with Michael Gilfix, Director of Enterprise Mobile for IBM, about the new MobileFirst initiative.
Gilfix explained that IBM is excited about their MobileFirst initiative because mobility has become the primary access mechanism for employees and customers to interact with businesses. It's also important to note up front that IBM MobileFirst is mobile device agnostic. This should open them up to the widest range of customers and make them a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) vendor of choice for some enterprises.
IBM MobileFirst might be the key for some enterprises to lay down an enterprise mobility strategy and infrastructure or just make the move into BYOD for their employees.
IBM MobileFirst elements
The IBM MobileFirst initiative includes the following offerings:
- IBM MobileFirst Strategy & Design Services, including IBM Interactive (IBM's own interactive agency), mobile infrastructure strategy and planning, and a mobile strategy accelerator
- IBM MobileFirst Platform, a selection of IBM infrastructure for the enterprise, including IBM Mobile Foundation (IBM Worklight - Enhanced and IBM WebSphere Cast Iron), IBM MessageSight, and other IBM testing and design tools
- IBM MobileFirst Management, including endpoint management, service assurance, and telecommunications expense management
- IBM MobileFirst Security, including app scanning, access management, and a VPN
- IBM MobileFirst Analytics, covering mobile and digital analytics tools
- IBM MobileFirst Development & Integration Services, including development, integration, and application management for enterprise mobile technologies
Gilfix also explained how IBM MobileFirst, "It's driving a different thought process for how those interactions can become and ultimately what gets people excited in the new business model or the way of thinking differently about involving users in those interactions, in those sets of business processes with the business. So, the MobileFirst concept is think differently, or think mobile first about those business interactions — and in turn, helping enterprises change how they interact with their end users."
From a software standpoint, Gilfix said, "We want to provide them (businesses) with the technologies they need to be the digital platform that's going to enable these new sets of business processes to be formulated for them." Gilfix broke it down, "The way they can build applications and deliver them to customers. The way they can test those applications so they are of the highest quality experience. We give them an analytics platform so they can deeply understand what the users are doing, what the employees are doing, and figure out how to optimize that channel. We give them security technologies, in the case of things like BYOD or this new mobile channel, especially because information becomes so much more portable, we want to give them back some of that control so they can control their enterprise assets."
Gilfix further explained, "We want to give the IT organization the operational tools they need to have onboard and manage these new sets of devices. So, all these things equal what is really the modern day digital platform that these businesses need to operate."
With MobileFirst, IBM is providing what it normally takes a company to source multiple vendors for separate consulting, service level, and business agreements. IBM is becoming a centralized source for end-to-end mobile technologies, infrastructure and strategies, and they do offer a convenient source of mobile expertise for their current customers.
IBM MobileFirst and BYOD
An area where IBM MobileFirst is bound to gain traction is BYOD, because the initiative is truly cross-platform and not tied to any sort of IBM mobile device partners.
Gilfix got to the heart of how BYOD fits into MobileFirst, "From an enterprise perspective, a successful BYOD program must serve the employees wherever the are. The war over who controls the mobile opportunity continues. The enterprise says ‘Hey, listen that's great. But this is about productivity for my employees'. Where we can add value to that organization is helping them to serve all manner of devices in a cost effective way, and that lets their employees have choices about their particular devices and removes the barriers and the friction for them to be on board and productive."
Going to IBM MobileFirst for BYOD strategy and infrastructure means:
- Centralized management across all device classes
- Applications sharing code across all devices
- Testing across all platforms without having to rewrite code
- Analytics across all mobile device classes
More startup and established companies are jumping on the BYOD bandwagon, and with IBM's reputation and MobileFirst strategy, they could easily end up on the top of the BYOD trend while others fade away, leaving behind trade show swag or an unanswered PR pitch.
IBM may face a challenge when trying to communicate their expertise in the ever-changing realms of mobile app development, mobile security, BYOD, and other enterprise mobility issues that keep corporate CIOs up at night. This is because IBM MobileFirst brings interactive strategy and a few other consulting/strategy elements to the forefront that IBM is not readily known for in some markets.
IBM MobileFirst shows a "mobilization" of the traditional IBM products and services approach that's so well known across many markets and industries. The time is right to unify strategy, development, and infrastructure to best serve enterprises with no mobile expertise in-house, especially for SMBs who want to go mobile. What are your thoughts about IBM MobileFirst? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below,
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.