There is a general misconception that Apple is strictly about consumer tools, but the fact is that the company has a big presence in the enterprise just by the sheer number of iPhones and iPads in the business world. It also has some high-profile partnerships with hefty enterprise vendors like IBM, SAP and Cisco. Today, Apple announced that it is building on those relationships with a brand new partnership with Accenture, the global consulting firm.
The companies plan to work together to help customers build advanced digital projects on iOS devices. Apple of course brings its iOS expertise to the table. Accenture comes into play because it understands how to connect to legacy backend systems that are lurking inside every large enterprise organization. The company has also long worked with established companies that are trying to become digital operations. Both of these are targets for the new project.
Ten years after the iPhone debuted, there are more in-house iOS programmers and more mobile development projects than ever before, but companies have struggled to take advantage of iOS to build digital tools to truly transform organizations and how they operate, according to Susan Prescott, VP for apps, markets and services at Apple.
“We’ve seen an increase in development efforts within companies. In fact, in the last three years, the number of in-house iOS developers has doubled,” she said. “So the demand is definitely there, but enterprises still need great partners to reinvent workflows and tap into backend systems.”
She adds, “This partnership with Accenture is about taking that further. What’s really exciting is that this isn’t just about optimizing existing apps and business processes — it’s about designing new apps and experiences using new technologies.”
Apple is looking to work directly with Accenture and enterprise customers to help them dig into enterprise data, and find new workflows that they have never considered before. This isn’t unlike what it has been doing (and continues to do) with IBM, but Apple says it’s going to have a seat at the table with Accenture personnel and share their expertise around iOS to help solve unique enterprise problems — and that is a big difference with this project.
As for Accenture, Gene Reznick, senior managing director for technology ecosystem and ventures for the firm, says they are looking to capitalize on some specific areas with this partnership including helping to create “engaging user experiences.” They hope to improve how organizations interact with customers in a digital way, something that continues to elude many companies. Secondly, they want to make that experience as meaningful as possible by building connections to relevant back-end systems and surfacing helpful data.
While this could take many forms, they see exploiting the burgeoning area of Internet of Things, where they could build iOS applications to help monitor large industrial machines or other complex operations from an iPad or iPhone. They could supplement this idea by building augmented reality applications with Apple’s AR development toolset, ARKit to help with training or repair assistance right on the iOS device.
For starters, the teams will work together in San Francisco, but the hope is that over time, they will expand the project and build additional teams at some subset of the 30 Accenture Studios located throughout the world.