IBM and United Airlines announced a partnership on Thursday to build out a suite of enterprise iOS apps to be used by the airline’s employees. The apps will be a part of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS project, and will be used by more than 50,000 United Airlines employees.

The apps will be part of United’s overall digital transformation strategy, a press release said, and will leverage analytics for greater context. The partnership is also part of United’s goal to “untether its global workforce” by giving them access to data on devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

“This enhanced strategy with mobile solutions from IBM and Apple allows United Airlines employees to tap into the right information at the right time to instantaneously address the needs that matter most to passengers,” Dee Waddell, global managing director for travel and transportation Industries at IBM, said in a press release.

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One of the goals of the new apps is to improve customer service for passengers with a connecting flight. According to the release, airline employees will have access to more useful data to help passengers find connecting gates when they arrive from their flight, for example.

The use of more mobile devices could also help free up customer service employees in the airport itself to move around the gate area and help customers where they are, instead of staying behind a podium, the release said.

“We want to put our employees in a position to deliver exceptional service at every step of the travel experience,” United’s vice president of operations technology, Jason Birnbaum, said in the release. “We have incredible employees out in the field who rely on technology to help our customers. The mobile solutions and working closely with IBM and Apple enables us to provide innovative solutions for them on an unprecedented scale.”

The new partnership leverages IBM’s Mobile at Scale for iOS, which the press release describes as an “app design and development model for the rapid development and deployment of multiple iOS apps.” In addition to helping United design and develop the apps, the approach will also help with app maintenance over time.

As another part of the partnership, United employees will be able to access IBM Studios in certain cities, and will be working with a dedicated IBM iX team who will help with app delivery and integration, the release said.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. IBM and United Airlines are partnering on a suite of enterprise iOS apps for 50,000 of of the airline’s employees.
  2. The apps will be focused on customer service, in part, helping employees assist travelers in finding their gates and keeping employees from being stuck behind a podium.
  3. The apps will be developed as part of IBM MobileFirst for iOS, and United will work with a dedicated IBM iX team on the app deployment and integration.