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11/12/2012
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IBM Expands Mobile Security, Management Suite

With new BYOD and app development tools, IBM wants customers to look at mobile as an opportunity, not a risk.

Consultant services offered through IBM's Mobile Infrastructure Strategy and Planning Services rounded out the announcement. Riegel said the program will cover needs that range from developing a new mobile strategy from the ground up, to spotting gaps in an existing plan.

With app development and analytics built into its mobility platform alongside more conventional MEM capabilities, IBM is positioning itself as a one-stop shop, an advantage that Dell also touted in its recent announcements. Perhaps more crucially, IBM is also moving beyond mere security and management, taking the stance that mobile devices are opportunities, not threats to be locked down. The company isn't unique in this perspective -- but with a large suite of complementary services and tools, the company contends it is better equipped than many smaller vendors to help businesses actually execute a forward-thinking strategy.

One company taking this approach is TBC Corporation, which bills itself as "the nation's largest vertically integrated marketer of tires for the automotive replacement market." In an interview, John Capriotti, the company's VP of architecture and e-commerce, said that IBM products are helping TBC change the way customers interact with vehicle maintenance.

The automotive service industry can only inspire loyalty by establishing trust, he asserted, noting that most customers don't fully understand maintenance services but still want to know that they're not being exploited. TBC's answer is to provide educational content that empowers users to understand the services an automotive business is recommending, and to provide transparency by allowing users to compare the recommendations to the manufacturer's suggestions.

"The best opportunity to do that was on a mobile device," he said, noting that when his team develops an app, IBM's tools limit unnecessary user interface and equipment constraints and allow multiplatform deployments.

He added that the company wants ultimately to expand into apps that are built into cars themselves, and into augmented reality tools that allow users to see potential cosmetic changes depicted on their personal vehicle, rather than on a generic model. He remarked that TBC's efforts are still in an early stage but noted that its proof-of-concept builds have been successful enough to attract partnership offers from major companies.

Riegel said TBC considered other options when planning its initiative. He said that after bids were submitted, though, IBM offered "the only solution that lived up to the hype."

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