To be successful in the enterprise, Apple needs to find partners that can build complex, end-to-end mobile solutions. In 2014, IBM was the first tech giant to do a deal to bring Apple’s development and design expertise into its consulting practice. Deloitte followed suit in 2016. Accenture Digital has now joined these consultancies as a major Apple enterprise partner. Each partnership has its own composition, but all center on building iOS applications for enterprise employees. I spoke yesterday with Apple’s Susan Prescott and Accenture Digital’s Gene Reznik to get some background. The formal announcement is here.

  • Accenture will formalize its iOS practice. This gives Accenture the same credibility as IBM and Deloitte have earned to build best-in-world iOS apps. We hope it also means Accenture will bring the important mobile web needs — progress web app technology — into the light of day.
  • Apple will place employees in Accenture’s digital studios, starting in San Francisco. This is a “fluid arrangement” that could include Apple employees working on specific Accenture client engagements. Having Apple’s employees close to enterprise customers is an important step forward for Apple’s awareness of what companies need.
  • Both companies will focus on employee applications and connected products. While Accenture Interactive builds many customer apps, Accenture Digital also builds IoT applications. Both practices will benefit from a pipeline to Apple’s API development and core services such as Apple HealthKit, Watch, and Siri.

This is a good thing for enterprise customers. This partnership will help companies with the hard parts of corporate mobility, including identify the mobile moment, designing the best experiences, engineering the platforms and processes to fulfill the promise in a mobile moment, and analyzing to optimize the engagement (see Figure 1). When we wrote The Mobile Mind Shift in 2014, we identified process and platform engineering as the most challenging and expensive part of the IDEA cycle, typically taking 80% of the cost and effort. And Accenture excels in re-engineering.

Okay, so it’s nice that Apple is helping Accenture and other consultancies deliver employee and consumer solutions on iPhones and iPads. But to really amp up the value of this partnership, Apple and Accenture will need to:

  • Establish repeatable playbooks for specific industries and business processes. This is the way Accenture helps clients move quickly (and make more margin doing it). Apple can support this effort in specific industries and countries.
  • Create a path to bring new feature and API requests into iOS. This is true enough for iOS and Apple’s services. But I’ll pitch also for a much closer look at how enterprises use mobile browsers. Apple lags Google in advanced browser features. Accenture can help Apple understand the importance of progressive web app technology. Why ?Because not every employee will use an app.
  • Scale the arrangement to serve the needs of enterprises around the world. A few Apple employees in one studio is nice. But 100s of Apple employees helping enterprise clients around the country is better.

Figure 1 The IDEA Cycle