An Exercise in Teamwork and Project Management: Apple and IBM Join Forces.

21 July 2014
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The times, they are a-changing…

I admit that when I first read the news, I did a double take and had to look out my office window to make sure pigs were not flying.

I mean, I could just picture Ron Burgundy saying: “…and in other news, Hell has officially frozen over.”

After all, wasn’t it just a little over 30 years ago that the late, great Steve Jobs:

♦ Penned the infamous, sarcastic print advertisementWelcome, IBM. Seriously”, which was meant to highlight IBM’s relatively late entry into the nascent IT market;

♦ Declared open war on IBM when Apple introduced the Macintosh to the masses through its not-so-subtle, award winning, Ridley Scott directed, Big Brother inspired  1984 Super Bowl XVIII commercial;

♦ Was photographed by one of his peers happily giving the “one finger salute” to an IBM sign in New York;

♦ Stated, in a 1985 Playboy Magazine interview, that: “If, for some reason, we make some big mistake and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter a computer Dark Ages for about twenty years.”

And the list goes on and on (and on and on!) [1]

Then again, the 80’s were a long time ago…

For the last 30 years, IT and the way we use computers have both evolved at a geometric rate.

The infamous PC vs. Mac wars that were raging almost a decade ago are all but over, and the personal computers and laptops that were once an intricate part of our personal and professional lives have gradually been replaced by mobile devices.

In this day and age, this peculiar partnership not only makes sense, it’s a win-win situation.

Think about it:

IBM no longer manufactures hardware and computers for the masses and the company has stopped developing its own OS. Instead, the corporate giant has transitioned to mainly focusing on cloud services, business processes, security, big data and analytics for the corporate world.

In fact, when it comes to providing corporate solutions, IBM has attained a level of market penetration that is far beyond the reach of Microsoft, let alone Apple.

The latter, on the other hand, has spent the better part of the last decade and a half focusing purely on the consumer market. However, the user-friendliness and capabilities of their products, namely the iPads and iPhones, have slowly but surely won over corporate users.

Their devices, which were once characterized as powerful, good looking toys, have now become formidable business tools.

That being said, it’s no surprise that the companies released the following joint statement to announce this historic partnership:

The landmark partnership aims to redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change. [2]

Apple and IBM’s shared vision for this partnership is to put in the hands of business professionals everywhere the unique capabilities of iPads and iPhones with a company’s knowledge, data, analytics and workflows.” [2]

Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? It may very well be.

However, the challenges involved in bringing this vision to fruition will be tremendous.

According to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Virgina Rometti, CEO of IBM, it all begins with setting a common goal and a clear vision for this project, both of which rely on leveraging the strengths of these two entities that naturally complement each other.

Cook confirmed that Apple set the wheels in motion and began speaking with IBM a couple of years ago about possible partnerships.

The enterprise arena is where the two companies felt they could come together:

“It [This partnership] takes the best of Apple and the best of IBM and it puts those together. There’s no overlap, no competition, they’re totally complementary, and more than anything, it focuses on the enterprise customer.” [3]

As you can see, the blueprint of this project is simple: Capitalize on what each stakeholder does best.

Inasmuch, it appears that Apple and IBM have found the Yin to their respective Yang:

♦ Apple will add a new class of service to its AppleCare Program and Support aimed at enterprise

♦ On-site support will be provided by IBM’s engineers.

♦ The companies will collaborate to build IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions.

♦ IBM will begin to sell iPhones and iPads to its corporate customers.

The common goal: Introduce to the corporate world mobile devices with access to complex data running in the cloud.

There you have it, the recipe to any successful project: Plan, Define Areas of Responsibilities, Collaborate and Deliver.

Should they pull this off, these two titans will be able to create and exploit a new technology, increase their respective market share, increase their customer base (and revenues of course) and once again – as they’ve done it before – redefine the IT playing field.

Steve Jobs once famously said: “We’re here to put a dent in the universe.”

I don’t believe he’s turning in his grave right now. In fact, I think he’s resting quite peacefully: His pride and joy’s former nemesis is now a powerful ally.

I dare you to imagine the Keynote Speech he would have delivered to announce the news.

Me? I can picture him standing beneath a backdrop similar to the one below, grinning from ear to ear and paraphrasing Joe Rogan: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the iBM era…

If I were Samsung/Google and Microsoft, I’d be getting a little worried right about now.



1. Five Steve Jobs Disses on IBM Before Apple Teamed Up With an Old Rival
2. Apple and IBM Team Up For Major Enterprise Mobility Partnership
3. Apple, IBM team up on mobile devices

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