Why Apple Sucks in the Enterprise

By Daniel Chalef posted 06-16-2011 08:54


If Apple's recent iPad sales are anything to go by, they're absolutely killing it. Last week's iCloud announcement also positions them well to capture the consumer cloud storage market and further entrench them as the online music store leaders.

Clearly iCloud has an important document management angle with its ability to store and share documents.  What does that mean for the ecosystem of vendors in this space?

And what about the mid-market and enterprise?  

Here platform vendors need to build an effective ISV channel to reach customers with often complex and bespoke requirements.

Microsoft got this so right with Windows that their dominance has thus far lasted over 30 years. My employer, KnowledgeTree, is a cloud document management software vendor servicing mid-market customers in finance, operations, HR, and legal. KnowledgeTree’s customers include Global 2,000 customers such as Alcatel-Lucent, Orbitz, Miramax, and Fujifilm.

We recently launched an Android tablet app and would like to do similar for the iPad and iPhone. Unfortunately our customers are yet to see the app in the iTunes App Store: it has been stuck in Apple's "app review" purgatory for 2 months.

We'd love to work with Apple, and so would our customers. Is this delay related to Apple's iCloud consumer offering, or does Apple need to learn a lot more about how to work with enterprise software vendors?

While other vendors have recently made moves to kill their ecosystem (yes, you Twitter), I'd like to view this as a learning curve issue, rather than a premeditated effort at squashing a tangentially competitive ecosystem.

Why should Apple work to build an enterprise ISVs ecosystem? Simply put: the mid-market and enterprise are lucrative, and while Apple has to date relied on consumer driven corporate adoption, their consumer market share growth (and margins) are about to face stiff challenge from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and Nokia. Apple's iPads are often purchased by our customers with the sole purpose of using our apps.  Support your enterprise ISV ecosystem, become the de facto platform in the enterprise and you retain your margins and growth.

Why should Apple approach enterprise ISVs differently to consumer app developers? Enterprise ISVs have complex release programs with many moving parts. We need to deliver on our commitments to customers, and actively engage with the media and analyst communities around our launches. This requires much planning, and some element of certainty around release dates.

So, what does Apple need to do to fix this situation?

  1. Transparency - we know Apple has recently attempted to fix the black hole that is the iTunes app approval process but being responsive with meaningless templated emails does nothing to cure the approval process of its byzantine feel. Apple: assign a relationship manager to enterprise ISV partners, give us a real person to email, and empower them to do their jobs, even if it is to reject an application for non-compliance with your T&Cs. 
  2. Consistency - And secondly, transparency goes hand in hand with consistency: a coherent and well understood interpretation of your T&Cs, both by Apple's own team and its partners. Apple, be open, upfront and consistent in your interpretation of these T&Cs. If you reject an app for reasons other than your T&Cs, have the courage to communicate your reasons and amend your T&Cs. As a platform vendor you have an obligation to do so. We need to understand the rules of the road, and they can't be applied capriciously.


#iCloud #Apple #documentmanagement