Last month I read a very interesting article on Techpinions by Tim Bajarin. Tim recounted his recent family trip to Disney World and explained how they use RFID wristbands to manage access to the park and hotel rooms and even pay for meals once linked with a credit card. Tim thought this type of functionality could be one of the pillars of Apple's upcoming iWatch. I was reminded of the article this week when Apple and IBM announced their enterprise partnership. I can imagine a world where enterprises deploy thousands of wristbands to employees instead of RFID employee badges. IBM would write enterprise or even company-specific applications and Apple would supply the hardware. Maybe they wouldn't even be wristbands at all, they could be a little dongle worn around the neck or clipped to a pocket. This could enable all sorts of other features:
- automatic locking and unlocking of laptops and tablets based on proximity (or a factory worker's machinery or UPS driver's truck ignition)
- step tracking to determine efficiency of building/warehouse/factory layout
- step tracking could also be used to give a high-level view of employee activity while in the office
Apple and IBM have a huge opportunity in the enterprise outside of just iPhones, iPads, and productivity applications. I don't know the enterprise software and services industry well enough to determine if IBM was the best partner, but they're clearly a capable one with sufficient scale to make a meaningful push into the enterprise.