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bigtincan in the Apple-IBM Sandbox

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on Unified Communications & Collaboration


bigtincan in the Apple-IBM Sandbox

By: -
14 May 2015

Much ado was made about Apple’s recent record iPhone sales, its inroads into China, and the “state of play” of Apple Pay, Apple Watch, and the like.  If you are an Apple newshound, you also might have noticed some of the financial analysts wringing their hands about the deflationary iPad sales.  “Have we hit ‘peak iPad’ sales?”  “Are they dropping 20%-30% year over year and does this spell doom?”  “Has Apple lost the tablet wars?”  Well, 12.6M iPad sales in its Q2 2015 isn’t shabby (with sales up in China), even if year over year growth is down.

But everyone knows by now that tablets have a longer deployment life / slower replacement cycle than iPhones.  Many consumers use them as entertainment devices; many knowledge workers use them as light-weight extensions of their production PC’s and Macs, for travel and specific tasks.  And many schools and corporations are buying them for their learners, or asking their learners to BYOD.  Yet even though Apple has been vocal that it has been working with IBM on business applications, very little has been publicized about what that process looks like after the first round of ten MobileFirst apps were announced back in December, 2014.

I’ve had several briefings recently with bigtincan, a mobile content enablement platform, but what caught my eye is that earlier this month it announced that it is one of a select group of application designers chosen by Apple to participate in the IBM partnership.  The goal is to help accelerate iOS and iPad adoption in the enterprise with its mobile content enablement platform, bigtincan hub.

What, you might ask, is a “bigtincan hub?”  Good question.  Sitting somewhere between a real-time collaboration tool like web conferencing or video conferencing, and an on-demand webcasting or streaming platform, and a content management system designed to automate the delivery of company media and training materials, bigtincan is a “built-for-mobile” platform.  It focuses on five areas: 1) security and governance – role-based content management; 2) accessibility on mobile devices; 3) a single application experience for addressing multiple types of content; 4) measurement and intelligence, including some of the metrics we in the collaboration universe like such as how people engage with content; and 5) automation of content delivery, supporting everything from their own forms builder – invaluable for field service use cases – to rich media delivery.  bigtincan offers its own file sync and share capabilities, but its customers can decide if they want content to be located on premises or in the cloud or on the devices themselves (surprise, surprise most go for the cloud).  They have editors for Office documents built-in, and real-time collaboration so that a field rep can, as an example, discuss material with colleagues using audio and video.

Back to the Apple relationship.  Apple isn’t doing all the heavy lifting – that’s been the beauty of the Apps store from the beginning.  It’s relying on IBM to drive sales and the back end hooks into enterprise data systems so necessary for iPads to be more than toys for business.  But “landing” a relationship with Apple can be transformative for a small company, and even though bigtincan claims more than 400 customers already, you can bet its developers and sales and marketing folks are salivating at this opportunity.

What bigtincan is now leveraging in its bigtincan hub from recent iOS8 releases include TouchID, encryption, the Today widget, the ability to add content from iCloud and other iOS8 enabled apps directly to a bigtincan “story”, and native support for Apple Mac desktop client & iMac retina display.  bigtincan also has implemented Apple’s Handoff technology on the iPhone, iPad and for the Web to “seamlessly” enable hub users to work with content across all screen sizes. bigtincan provides a proprietary approach for content rendering that enables the secure distribution and use of all types of content, including webpages, RSS feeds, HTML5, interactive forms, rich data driven content and multimedia such as video, audio and images. bigtincan hub also works with iWork content.

So just as some of the leading video and web collaboration vendors have been working on handoff technologies in recent years, the content management gang is doing the same.  Oh yes.  On the social side, bigtincan includes live, document-level video chat that lets users see and hear colleagues during direct feedback and editing sessions (two-way audio and video only at this time); published social feeds; rating, subscribing and sharing, and SocialIQ (real-time content metrics that inform who is doing what with content “in the field.”) 

I think a platform architected from the ground up for mobile, with a slew of use cases in sales enablement, training, field service, and marketing – that can be integrated easily into an organization’s workflow – is one to watch.  We’ve written recently about PlayerLync and its content distribution capabilities to tablets; bigtincan is another of a new set of vendors likely to gain traction in large and mid-market enterprises (AT&T, Thermo Fisher, and a slew of smaller companies are among its user base – I like the case study that describes an auto dealership saving $100,000 a year using bigtincan hub among its 130 sales reps and employees.)

While the collaboration vendors large and small have hitched their wagons to the Apple iOS for their mobile apps, we’re hoping the bigtincan relationship with Apple (and presumably IBM) will grow and show more of what’s possible with deeper partnerships for building collaborative technologies.