AT&T and IBM team up for business-focused mobile apps
Guest post by Cara Hogan, WebSphere Insights magazine
IBM and AT&T have broken new ground with a collaboration marrying IBM MobileFirst and the ever-growing portfolio of AT&T APIs and cloud offerings. The combination of the two technical powerhouses has attracted attention from developers, academics and business leaders alike, all hoping to make native app creation easier and less expensive and to deliver a better-quality product.
The partnership came about because IBM and AT&T leadership shared the goal to grow their company’s mobility market share, according to Edward Schmit, Executive Director ATT Developer Program at AT&T.
“IBM had purchased Worklight and was heavily looking at how to get more enterprise developers to use it,” Schmit explains. “AT&T also wants our APIs to be used widely by many different developers. It made sense to have our APIs exposed through the IBM tool. We thought there’d be interest to developers knowing that AT&T and IBM were working together in this space to bring extra value to them.”
With two very different sets of expertise, Schmit says that the companies together offer enterprise-level customers valuable solutions that help them stay on top of the latest mobile technology. IBM Worklight saves developers time coding for individual devices, and pushes apps out to iPhones, Android and other operating systems automatically. The IBM products are further strengthened by more than a dozen of AT&T’s APIs available to enhance the design and functionality of apps, including useful features like location identification, SMS or payment capabilities, according to Schmit.
“API usage is exploding,” Schmit says. “These APIs have become required in the app marketplace. That’s just what your users are expecting. What is your ROI from adding location or messaging to the app? It keeps users engaged. The better the app works, the more likely you’ll keep working in it.”
Creative application of APIs benefits businesses in big ways
There is a growing market for new and innovative uses of the APIs that already exist in the market. Speech recognition is already in place in many apps, but is also considered a key area of growth by AT&T. Both the accuracy and latency of the technology have improved in the past few years, poising speech to become more useful to both the business and the end user, Schmit says.
“Speech is one area that is finally hitting the sweet spot of performance and you’ll see more of it,” he notes. “People are more familiar with using it for personal assistance, but there’s a variety of uses. A software company we’re working with is using speech to load personal information into a form, so people can leave a note or message by voice and everything [is transcribed]. It’s a new way to do customer service.”
AT&T is also working with emerging APIs that can make big impacts on enterprise apps. One of the newest is called In-App Messaging from Mobile Number, which is growing in popularity according to Schmit. This API allows users to invite friends to use an app by text message. The key difference is that the message appears to come directly from the user’s cell phone number, rather than from the company.
“For example, you’re inviting someone to dinner from Yelp or to play a game from EA. You send that invite into their SMS mailbox, so it comes directly from the other user,” Schmit says. “The invite is coming from the other person’s SMS box rather than the app, increasing engagement and making it seem more personal. It gets a higher number of return clicks because it’s an invite from a person, not the app.”
This is an excerpt from an article that appears in the July-August-September 2013 issue of WebSphere Insights magazine—the independent, digital publication for IBM WebSphere solutions. To read the full the article and sign up for a free subscription, visit www.websphereinsights.com.