Apple CEO says the future of enterprise is mobility

The best businesses will use mobile devices to lift productivity

When it comes to improving productivity, Apple CEO Tim Cook says businesses don't need their employees to work harder -- they need to change how they work.

"There's no more time in the day, so you have to transform your business." he said during a conversation with Box CEO Aaron Levie at the BoxWorks conference. "And so today, that means embracing mobility in a big way."

It's something that he thinks companies haven't been doing enough of -- Apple included. While there are plenty of applications that can handle traditional enterprise tasks like email, Cook said he doesn't see enough applications that are fundamentally transforming the way that people work. In his view, it's a major opportunity.

Apple has focused on enterprise customers quite a bit over the past few years, both by developing features for its products and partnering with other companies in the enterprise space to boost its business credibility. Enterprise sales were worth $25 billion in revenue to Apple from the middle of 2014 to the middle of 2015, without counting devices that consumers purchased and brought to work themselves. According to Cook, his company is just getting started.

While Apple is competing closely with Microsoft, Google and others to pick up enterprise customers, Cook said that businesses should be working with technology companies that are partnered with other players in the industry. In his view, Apple's partnerships with companies like IBM, Cisco and Box are a point of strength, since those companies can use their expertise in particular industries to enhance Apple's products.

"I think if you're a CIO or you're in a company, you want to do business with someone who's part of an ecosystem, not someone who's in an island somewhere," Cook said. "Island days are gone."

Cook also took an opportunity to fire a shot at Windows 10, saying that Apple has no plans to merge its mobile and desktop operating systems. In his view, merging mobile and desktop operating systems subtracts from both of them, which is exactly what Microsoft has done with its latest OS.

Microsoft and Apple are still competitors, but Cook said that there's also a big opportunity for the companies to work together on products like Office for iPad.

"Apple and Microsoft can partner on more things than we can compete on," he said. "And that's what the customer wants."

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