Apple + Cisco: The Partnership to shake the Enterprise Mobile Market

Mobile Sep 30, 2015

Writing the last post about Mobile Performance, one of the news that shocked me was the partnership between Apple and Cisco. I began to dig deeper about this, and I understood that this needs a complete post to talk about this profound partnership. When you see this kind of alliances about two massive companies, you begin to look for answers, but the real deal is to make more questions:

  • Wants Apple to bet in big for the Enterprise world?
  • Why Cisco?
  • Why now?

All these questions came to my mind when I read Chuck Robbins’s post about the news:

I’m thrilled about our new partnership we announced today with Apple. We are coming together to optimize Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps, integrating iPhones with Cisco environments and providing unique collaboration capabilities on iPhones and iPads. Together, we will enable mobile apps and experiences that deliver the quality and experience we need while meeting enterprise requirements for management and security.

Like you can see, I marked some keywords in the words of Chuck. They made public all areas of collaboration, but I think that this alliance has a deeper root.

Following the investigation about the topic, I found the post from Rob Soderbery (SVP, Enterprise Products and Solutions at Cisco), and inside his words, is even more key information:

Together, Cisco and Apple have embarked on this partnership that will help businesses adopt new ways of mobile work where the real-time business insights, information sharing, collaboration and communication experience is awesome every time and anywhere. It’s time to move past email and BYOD to mobile transactions and enhanced business execution.

Will Slack be part of this journey? Who knows !!!

Ummm, these words has made to think about the profound message inside them. In simple terms: they want to help to every kind of business, SMEs or large corporations to improve its internal communications in a Mobile world. Now, I make you a question to you: Is Slack not doing the same? Will Slack inside in this strategy? Fast Company has made an incredible article describing how Slack has changed the workplace landscape in so many companies; that they are using Slack’s channels for every team and for every possible discussion:

Garnering tens of millions of corporate users as an independent company could be hard for this and many other reasons. But Slack might be an attractive takeover target or strategic partner for a bigger company. Butterfield swears he isn’t interested in selling. “M&A generally doesn’t work,” he says, alluding to his experience with Flickr, which, since the Yahoo acquisition, has been overshadowed by newer photo services like Instagram. “The special culture is crushed, the pace of innovation is slowed.” He also admits that this is exactly what he’d say if he was, in fact, trying to sell the company.

Personally, I think that Slack could be a great vehicle for Apple to enter in the Enterprise world using Mobile communications like its spear. And if the problem is the current valuation of Slack: $2.8 Billion; Apple has the capital to do it.

But if you are asking my opinion, I think Slack could be a better fit inside Cisco, and now I will tel you why: if you read my post about the #SecurityEverywhere strategy by Cisco, you should have read its innovation framework: Build, Buy and Partner. They have created this, thinking in the long term, and it seems it works very well. One key driver of this, is precisely Hilton Romansky (now, he is the SVP and Chief Technology and Strategy Officer), the man in charge of the M&A strategy at Cisco; and I think he should be the guy to convince to Stewart Butterfield to be part of the Cisco’s journey.

Other reason would be the other acquisitions that Cisco has made in the collaboration space like Collaborate and Tropo, which could be integrated with Slack in less of two years, but I would love to see the company like as independent (like they did with OpenDNS) and improve the security features at Slack, because they have the right tools and people to do it.

So, Will Slack be part of this strategy by Apple and Cisco? I don’t know, but it could be very good time to see this happen. If you read two posts from Kevin Spain, a partner at Emergence Capital about the Mobile Enterprise opportunity, you will understand why this is too massive to ignore. The first one is on TechCrunch, and he said there:

There are more than 3 billion people globally who work in some capacity. Yet only 20 percent of them have ever had access to technology to help them perform their jobs more effectively. That leaves 2.5 billion workers not being supported by technology today. Some of them are in industries like construction, an $8 trillion a year space that spends less than 1 percent of its revenue on IT. Others are in manufacturing, the world’s fourth-largest industry with 40 million workers globally — it spends less than 2 percent of revenue on IT.A significant portion of those 2 billion-plus workers without technology are in the developing world, with 50 percent in Asia-Pacific, 10 percent in Latin America and another 10 percent in the Middle East and Africa. This global opportunity is enormous, and mobile technology is uniquely poised to capitalize on this market as the heavy infrastructure improvements necessary for hard-wired solutions are expensive and time consuming to deploy.

The second post was in his personal blog, and he said:

Emergence Capital recently held its second annual Mobile Enterprise Forum in San Francisco. This event brought together nearly 150 entrepreneurs who are building the next generation of enterprise applications for mobile devices.The day was full of amazing interviews with leading CEOs in the enterprise space including Stewart Butterfield from Slack, Aaron Levie from Box, and David Obrand from Yammer. We also had fireside chats with several up-and-coming companies in the mobile enterprise market including Augmedix, Expensify, PlanGrid, and Shyp.

So, in my personal opinion, Slack could be part of the Cisco’s strategy.

Will Twin Prime Inc be part of this journey? Who knows !!!

In a second moment of the post, Rob mentioned three sentences very important to analyze:

Now the title of this post was partly in jest. The three areas are all important, but the key to providing this awesome user experience we are after resides in the underlying network. Only if we make our network natively aware of these new mobile applications and capabilities will we be able to improve the user experience. Let me share with you the areas we will be focusing on initially:
  • Security and connectivity — Delivering a no-compromise WiFi experience, including working together to ensure high performance connectivity, fast roaming and service assurance, all the while ensuring end-to-end security of the enterprise service.
  • Prioritizing business applications — Ensuring we can deliver new mission critical enterprise traffic differentiated from the best-efforts consumer and non-mission-critical services. This is where the idea of a Fast Lane for iOS applications emerged, and how we will make that real.
  • Accelerating applications — Implementing new approaches to accelerate application response time, reduce the load on the network and eliminating disruption due to operating system and infrastructure upgrades.

I will focus in the third sentence: Accelerating applications. Twin Prime has created a very innovative solution for this hard problem, and when you review some of the names behind the company, Kartik, the CEO of the company came from Cisco, and is Robert Krohn (VP Software Engineering at Cisco Systems), who is in the Twin Prime’s board of directors who are part of Cisco too. So, Twin Prime could be inside this strategy too perfectly.

Shared vision…to enter in China?

Finally, in the Chuck’s post, the last sentence about the shared vision opened my mind to think beyond:

Together, Cisco and Apple will help employees and businesses collaborate and innovate anytime, everywhere, with an amazing user experience every time. We will do this by delivering a high-performance mobile experience for every employee, and a powerful collaboration platform for every business. This partnership is made for today’s mobile, digital world and we could not be more excited about what is possible as we move forward together.

Then, a comment of a user call Gil said this:

WOW!! This is huge. Cisco and Apple… Together! This will be the move that will really separate us from the competition and will make us the global consumer and enterprise leader

You should be wondering in this point what is the deal here with China. It’s a very tough market, and like Gregg Keizer (ComputerWorld) said in his post about this partnership:

If the iPhone works better on a Cisco-based network, Moorhead speculated, the San Jose, Calif. company could use that as a potent sales weapon when going head-to-head with competitors like Juniper Networks. Meanwhile, Apple could pitch its iPhone and iPad to enterprises as not only a replacement for land-line telephones and expensive video conferencing gear, but preferred throughout by virtue of the new technical benefits.

And when you see to both making big bets in China, this partnership could been seen very well in the Asian country for SMEs and large companies. Apple since the last year is opening more and more Apple Stores in China, and based in the own words of Tim Cook in the past BoxWorks, the company makes $25 billion a year selling to businesses now (He said too: “We haven’t even started yet”)

Cisco for its part, is making strategic investments to work seamlessly with the companies Chinese government; for that reason I see this joint effort a good weapon to enter for the big door for the country of the ink and the fireworks.

Conclusions

To conclude, like I said in the beginning of the post: we don’t know about the roots of this strategic partnership, but if we analyze with calm everything they said about it; this could redefine the Future of Work, and the Future of Collaboration in the Enterprise world; and if in the process, Apple or Cisco acquire Slack, or Cisco acquire Twin Prime; believe me: there are not bad ideas, they will be working in the right path to dominate this massive but hard market, including the difficult Chinese market.

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Marcos Ortiz Valmaseda

Editor at The Panda Way, where I help companies to earn more income through #investing. Cloud Data Engineer in the morning at Grupo Intercorp