Apple’s greatest achievement has been to bring simplicity to computing. If you’ve seen a four-year-old navigate an iPad with ease, you have seen this simplicity in action.
The truth is, everyone talks about simplicity, but few people achieve it. There are many reasons for this. First of all, simplicity is hard. Our minds tend to pull information together into big, disconnected globs. The sharpest minds can turn these globs into neat, usable packages. Also, some people are afraid of simplicity. If you read academic journals, for instance, you will see complex jargon and long sentences. Behind the big words seems to be a fear of sounding dumb. There’s also something authoritative about complexity. When I was a consultant, I would say things to clients like, “Your data is overly de-normalized, and has a serious lack of referential integrity.” I could have just said, “Your data is messed up and we need to fix it,” but who wants to spend $200 an hour + expenses for that kind of talk?
Hans Hofmann, the German-born American abstract expressionist painter described the quest for simplicity as the effort to “eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Beginning to standardize on platforms like iOS brings this simplicity. Few things are as complex and dysfunctional as a modern corporation (even successful ones!). Pity, then, the CIOs who are expected to provide technology that keeps the mess afloat while being “innovative.” This push for innovation is often synonymous with mobile, and for good reason. More so than ever, mobile is where organizations interact with customers and how employees do their jobs. Providing great mobile experiences is yet another “must do” for CIOs.
So when it comes to imposing simplicity on an organization, one strategy would be to standardize on iOS as a mobile operating system for all employees. For one thing, this standard limits the variety of devices in the field. While losing out on some specific features on different devices, building custom apps becomes easier with a single operating system. Testing and distribution also becomes simplified, as well as change management and user adoption.
While Apple has traditionally been consumer-focused, with the release of iOS 8, it’s clear they have big plans for the enterprise. Forrester’s Pamela Heiligenthal highlighted this release in her report “What iOS 8 Means To Your Enterprise Mobility Plans.” Here, Heiligenthal notes that this release “…focuses heavily on cloud, security, data transfer, and storage, and mobile app teams are already in motion to take advantage of the new features.” And while there is no cure-all for security, Apple has pushed hard in the last few releases to provide enterprise-grade security. For example, Justin Stronk noted in CIO magazine that iOS 8 has the built-in ability to “encrypt individual messages, calendar, and contacts.”
Moving to the iOS operating system, with its rich set of enterprise features, is a logical step in simplification. What this strategy buys IT organizations is the ability to keep complexity where it is — in the business problems they need to solve. Clearly, Apple is ready for business.