Services/apps mobile

IBM, Apple Tie-Up Moving Into Cloud

IBM has announced plans to bring Apple's Swift programming language into a cloud environment to spur app development, flagging success stories with several business customers using apps developed through its partnership with the iPhone maker.

The IT giant teamed up with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) in mid-2014 and has produced a variety of business apps for enterprise customers under its MobileFirst banner.

Speaking at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Phil Buckellew, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)'s vice president of enterprise mobile, told reporters that moving Swift -- the programming language used for iOS and OS X operating systems -- into the cloud would radically simplify the end-to-end development of apps, with major benefits for business customers.

"Today clients have to connect front-end to back-end systems and often the back ends are written in different languages and that creates conflict," he told reporters at a press briefing. "Bringing Swift into the cloud will allow the front-end and back-end teams to work more closely -- this is the next step in the IBM, Apple partnership."

That partnership has already given rise to more than 100 apps covering 65 professions and 14 industries, says IBM, which shared details of several projects during its partnership.

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Customers including Etisalat (telecom), Alior (banking), SAS (airline) and RWE (utility) claimed to have seen various business benefits as a result of commissioning MobileFirst apps.

Etisalat Misr, the operator's Egyptian subsidiary, has been making use of apps to help field technicians and IT employees operate more efficiently, says CIO Khaled Almansouri.

"We got engaged with IBM to provide us with a tool that allows technicians to go to basestations and do maintenance and update things on the run," he says. "We're trying to adopt the latest technologies to make sure we can survive in a competitive market."

Apps used by Alior have been designed to improve interactions with customers, while SAS is equipping cabin crews with technologies that will give them easier access to information about flight procedures and allow them to cut down on paper.

Similar to Etisalat, RWE is using an asset-care app that is aimed at boosting efficiency within field operations.

But Etisalat's Almansouri was the most enthusiastic about the benefits of the IBM technology, presenting it as a critical component of his company's digital transformation strategy.

"Most IT projects fail because of integration and data migration issues," he said. "IBM helps to simplify the business processes and is leading the BSS/CRM/billing transformation in our company."

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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