It was a little more than two years ago that the company entered a groundbreaking partnership with Apple to enhance the mobile enterprise space.
IBM executives, speaking at the company's World of Watson conference in Las Vegas, positioned the move as part of an overall rollout of enhancements to IBM Watson technology, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to support human interactions with intelligent bots at a scale rarely seen.
"All of this means at its core we're working on Watson to make sure it can read at scale, reason with a purpose, learn with each outcome and interact with us naturally," IBM Watson General Manager David Kenny told attendees at the conference.
On the Ground and in the Air
The company has optimized several new advancements to work with the iOS 10 speech framework -- including IBM Natural Language Processing, Watson Conversation and other Watson APIs -- enabling millions of workers who use the MobileFirst technology to control apps with simple voice interactions. The improvements are intended to help companies gain more insight into customer behavior and interactions in the field.The extended relationship with Apple is the most interesting thing that IBM announced at the conference, according to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
One of the new apps that workers can use in the field is Find & Fix, which lets field technicians use an Apple iPhone or Apple Watch to select jobs based on proximity and priority. That is probably more effective than passing by a preselected calendar to decide how they move from area to area without data on how complex every task will be.
Workers also can use the app to get turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic and parking information. Likewise, laborers can utilize the Apple camera incorporated with the telephone to output standardized identifications and speak with off-site experts by means of FaceTime.
The relationship with IBM is going to be very important for Apple's enterprise business, observed telecom analyst Jeff Kagan.
A Bank's Experience
Since launching the Apple partnership two years ago, IBM and Apple have worked hard to expand the use of IBM technology to the mobile worker, and to get Apple devices into their hands.
"A lot of us thought the real power of this relationship would result from IBM putting Watson behind Siri," noted Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
"This isn't that, but it is showcasing the power of Watson on the iPhone, and that is certainly a big step in a similar direction," he told the E-Commerce Times.
The companies earlier this year announced an agreement with Alior Bank, based in Poland, to use three MobileFirst apps -- for scheduling, sales and signing up new clients -- along with 1,300 Apple iPhones, iPads and MacBooks deployed to the bank's workforce.