IBM rolls out MobileFirst, eyes role as enterprise mobility enabler

Big Blue increasingly sees the mobile enterprise as the equivalent of its e-business, analytics and smarter planet efforts.

IBM on Wednesday aggregated its mobile tools into a portfolio dubbed MobileFirst with an aim to be an enabler for corporations looking to turn multiple screens into revenue drivers.

Big Blue increasingly sees the mobile enterprise as the equivalent of its e-business, analytics and smarter planet efforts. Not too surprisingly, IBM is wrapping software and services together to pitch its mobile wares.


According to IBM, enterprises are leaving billions of dollars on the table by not transforming fast enough to take advantage of mobility. To back up its products, IBM said it will double its investment in mobile in 2013 compared to 2012.

"Many customers are using mobile as a channel and business transformation needs to start internally on the back-end and then extend to the mobile experience," said John Ponzo, CTO of mobile research for IBM, in a recent interview. "Companies also need to manage the data and have control."

Among the moving parts of MobileFirst:

  • IBM's MobileFirst Platform rolls up Worklight, a development tool, single sign-on and Rational testing tools for apps.
  • MobileFirst Security scans vulnerabilities at the app level on mobile operating systems. The security tools are designed to scan and enforce policies for internal and third party mobile apps.
  • MobileFirst Management is an update to EndPoint Manager to support bring your own device programs with additional security tools. The mobile device management approach from IBM targets all screens from the desktop to the smartphone with policies by device.
  • MobileFirst Analytics is an expansion of its Tealeaf CX Mobile tools to model customer behavior on multiple screens.
  • An expanded partnership with AT&T to aid mobile app development.

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On the services front, IBM is rebranding a relatively quiet design unit under the MobileFirst moniker. The design and strategy services consists of workshops as well as IBM Interactive user interface knowhow. IBM is also offering development, network and integration services.

IBM's plan with MobileFirst is to target its key verticals such as retail with point-of-sale applications, healthcare and transportation.

Ponzo noted that companies often see mobile as a channel but miss that it's an opportunity to transform processes and streamline operations.

And that mobile push is likely to come from a CXO. Michael Karasick, vice president of research at IBM's Almaden Lab. "It usually takes a visionary CIO or CTO to start mobile transformation and then others follow," said Karasick.

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