Apple's slice of the enterprise market has doubled in three years

Those Windows XP boxes may still be whirring away in the forgotten corners, but Apple's slice of the enterprise market has doubled across the last three years, JAMF Software will reveal in a report to be published tomorrow.

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Evidence-based

The company commissioned Dimensional Research to survey IT executives at enterprise firms across the U.S., finding that the number of Apple products used in these firms has reached new highs, driven by the popularity of its solutions among employees:

  • Nine out of 10 companies officially support Apple products -- iPhones (91%), iPads (89%) and Mac computers (60%).
  • 98% percent of respondents expect the number of Apple devices to grow at their business by at least 25% percent in the next three years
  • 91% percent of respondents say Apple device setup and enablement requires IT involvement, meaning 20% percent of enterprises plan to hire more staff to handle Apple product implementation.

We're not talking about a few devices, either: around 60% of enterprises support more than 100 Apple devices, while "nearly 2 in 10" support a thousand Apple devices or more. Six percent of those surveyed support more than 5,000 Apple devices.

This is a big change. In 2011 67% of companies said Apple comprised under 10% of end user devices. These days, 35% say a quarter of end user devices come from Cupertino.

Challenges

There's a few challenges, not least the feeling among IT pros that Apple's solutions lack key tools. And there are some problems managing these systems (a feeling that's likely good news for JAMF Software, which provides device management for Apple solutions in the enterprise). Just 20% of businesses surveyed felt that their current Apple management solutions are fit for purpose.

It's unlikely adoption of Apple products will slow any time soon; 98% of those surveyed expect the number of these devices to grow, and 30% believe growth will exceed 25% across the next three years.

To help mitigate device management challenges, Apple is introducing numerous enterprise-focused enhancements in iOS 8:

Enhanced IT management tools in the new OS include the capacity to push PDFs and eBooks to specific employees, and the ability to prevent users utterly erasing their devices by locking specific parts. It will also be possible to assign specific apps to open certain files, which should enable firms to keep their data inside their chosen apps and services.

  • Device Enrollment
  • Third-party enterprise apps
  • Security Passcodes for apps
  • Third-party keyboard support
  • Enterprise-focused improvements for Mail, such as mail encryption

JAMF Software's findings support Apple's own previous claims of enterprise success. For example: iPhone is used in 97% of the Fortune 500, and 91% of the Global 500 and 90% of tablet activations in corporations are iPads.

Ultimately, it's an interesting insight into how user preference has driven Apple to grab a strong slice of the enterprise market. It's proof positive that focusing on delivering the best quality user experience has encouraged its users to demand inclusion of its solutions at work. That's the best kind of marketing -- the kind of marketing you can't really buy, but must build: word of mouth.

Apple's annual improvements to iOS, the lack of fragmentation that characterizes its platforms and reputation for high security mean the future of Apple in the enterprise should be secure.

It's good news for Apple techs of course. While the influx of Apple devices is accelerating, "the availability of enterprise-ready Apple device management solutions is not meeting the needs of today's IT teams," JAMF Software observes. (While the company allowed me early access to its data for the purposes of this report, I am not associated with the company in any way.)

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