by Natalie Miller • @natalieatWIS

Big Blue announces partnerships to drive mobile adoption and empower developers

New IBM MobileFirst platform promises accelerated mobile strategizing, enhanced security

Published February 25, 2015


A quick glance around any restaurant, train car, waiting room, or even the sessions and hallways of IBM’s InterConnect conference in Las Vegas makes one thing abundantly evident—mobile phones are everywhere and constantly in use, and not only at play—these devices are also part of daily workflow.

The demand for mobile applications is on the rise, and organizations must push out a growing number of apps to meet that demand. An IBM survey revealed that 85 percent of companies expect to have a backlog of up to 20 mobile apps slated to be delivered.

“We’re seeing how mobile has been disrupting industries, large and small, with new solutions focused around changing costs, ways to deliver better customer service, and allowing companies to build new revenue streams,” says Phil Buckellew, Vice President, Enterprise Mobile.

At its mega cloud and mobile conference on Tuesday, Big Blue announced several new partnerships that aim to help clients drive innovation and meet customer expectations.

A first-of-its-kind partnership, IBM and Juniper Networks have joined forces to provide real-time network behavior insights to help customers improve mobile experiences, address increasing Internet of Things (IoT) demands, and realize the many opportunities gleaned from big data.

“Data and insights in transforming systems of engagement,” says Bob Picciano, Senior Vice President, IBM Analytics.

As we move into the cognitive era, Picciano says, the economic value of IT is about the insight gathered from the abundance of data. “Cloud is the fabric that is enabling a lot of this capability, but really, what’s underneath cloud is network,” he says. “In order to really be influential in achieving this greater ability to effect change and unlock IT value, it’s really important we have innovation at the network level.”

Picciano explains that by providing real-time predictive analytics at scale, in the network, organizations can look at network behavior, identify bottlenecks, and better service clients who are experiencing issues.

Through this partnership will emerge a new solution in which Juniper Networks’ MX Router Service Control Gateway will integrate with IBM Now Factory analytics. “It’s extremely exciting,” says Dr. Ahmed Guetari, Vice President of Product Management at Juniper Networks. He explains that the key factors that make it a special partnership poised for success is market readiness, aligning world-class innovation from both companies, and using IBM to integrate on Juniper’s discreet environment to leverage and present the data.

IBM says the partnership will allow for full visibility of subscribers and VPN behaviors—not just who the subscribers are, but their behaviors, what they consume, etc.—presented in a way that brings swift understanding to the data to improve the customer experience.

IBM Bluemix fosters innovation
How startups and enterprises are innovating with IBM’s platform-as-a-service, Bluemix, has also been tested and showcased at InterConnect2015 this week. On Tuesday, IBM announced a new collaboration with global cosmetics manufacturer Shiseido, in which mobile apps have been built for the company’s nearly 10,000 beauty consultants in Japan to help them better engage with clients. 

Shiseido is using the IBM MobileFirst Platform to develop and secure these enterprise applications for its “Beauty Tablet,” which has multiple modules and capabilities that gives consultants a one-stop shop for communications with clients, scheduling, reporting, and other tasks—such as learning from each other through sharing tips and tricks and photos of their work—to help these employees work smarter.

Another first is IBM’s collaboration with Citibank and the launch of the Citi Mobile Challenge, which takes the hack-a-thon concept to the next level by gathering a group of developers as an ecosystem to own and build financial-service applications for digital banking.

The three-month challenge will be a global tour—beginning in Europe, where 700 new mobile apps will be evaluated and four winners selected. Then it’s on to Latin America and to three countries in the Asia Pacific region, where several grand winners of the entire mobile challenge will be crowned.

“We are very proud that Citibank chose IBM Bluemix technology as their strategic underpinning for this mobile challenge,” says Sandy Carter, General Manager of Cloud Ecosystems and Developers.

Developers who take this challenge will receive free access to the IBM Bluemix platform and technical mentoring from IBM on Bluemix and a variety of concepts in cloud, hybrid cloud, and data services, explains Carter. Developers also will have access to cloud training and, in each country, IBM will form FinTech (financial technical) communities to foster further innovation through a series of meet-ups.

The winner of the most innovative application will be enrolled in IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program.

The new IBM MobileFirst
Mobility, both externally and within enterprise workflows, has the ability to heighten productivity and yield better customer experiences, but it also opens the door to potential threats. The need for security and managing risk is magnified as more mobile apps are built and used by customers and employees.

To make it easier to continue to deliver new innovations with security built into the strategy from the outset, IBM has released a new IBM MobileFirst platform. Offered as a cloud-based or on-premise modular, which allows organizations to consume only the services they need and want, the platform better positions those organizations to effectively manage an increasing number of apps and drive successful adoption.

“We are seeing a historic shift in how criminals operate,” explains Caleb Barlow, Vice President, Mobile Management and Security, IBM. Organized crime, on a global scale, is sophisticated and operating much the same way as those in the enterprise—it’s a 9-to-5 operation. Losses from cyber attacks are growing, and the biggest problem area is mobile, says Barlow.

“As we’ve all accelerated the path to mobile and we are opening new opportunities for businesses on mobile, it’s important that we build mobile applications with security by design,” he says.

A recent study of the top 100 applications on both Google Play and The Apple Store show that all of those applications have hacked rogue versions on third-party app stores. These rogue versions not only take users’ information, but also have massive brand implications. Consider the fact that 67 percent of companies allow employees to download non-vetted applications on work devices and that nearly 40 percent don’t scan their own apps for security vulnerabilities before putting them on the market, and it’s clear that security must be a priority when building applications. A top security feature of IBM MobileFirst is security scans of the mobile application code, which, according to Barlow, makes it more difficult for a hacker to create a variant of the application.

The new MobileFirst Platform also gives organizations more flexibility and ensures developers can use tools they choose. In addition, it’s optimized for native development, HTML5 development, or a combination approach.

The platform includes several new capabilities, including a technology called Presence Insights, which draws proximity, awareness, and location-based services to allow companies, such as retailers, for example, to use sensors or beacons in store locations to build applications that better engage with customers. It also draws on the importance of data by adding a Cloudant module that allows organizations to store, sync, scale, and connect to mobile data in enterprise systems.         

The ability to deal with data at scale means applications can do more of what consumers and businesses want, says Buckellew, the Enterprise Mobile VP.

IBM also says the platform will allow IT professionals to focus on the business value of each application and look at its own mobile strategy and how it addresses specific business problems. This configurable suite of tools and a focused approach to application development will ensure organizations compress time to value and look at the complete mobile strategy.

“We are very excited about the capabilities that we’ve added to the MobileFirst platform,” says Buckellew. “We know it’s going to help organizations work off this backlog of applications that they face and deliver greater value to their customers.”



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