Opinion: How Apple has changed enterprise computing, forever

By Jonny Evans

Led by the fast-emerging BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend,  Apple [AAPL] is crunching into the enterprise market, creating a growing market share with the Trojan Horse of its mobile devices and a fast-growing interest in its Macs.


We need promises that deliver

With Windows 8 the latest Microsoft promise to woo the corporate markets, this is a time of decision. Many enterprise-class tech purchasers are looking at whether it's worth upgrading to the next MSFT OS on strength of the firm's mobile-meets-PC promise, or whether to take on any of the two main alternatives for this dream you see around today: Apple or Android.

Despite my reservations concerning Google's moral prerogative when it comes to the way it created Android (I'm an Apple Holic and do feel the feeling of betrayal between Apple and Google has some good reasons to run deep) it must be said that in conjunction with iOS and OS X, these two big firms have freed the enterprise world from the rubber-clad silvery handcuffs of the Microsoft-based hegemony. And the latter firm's CEO, Steve Ballmer, has been unable to crack the whip to preserve the firm's control of the corporate world.

Evidence-based dreaming

This isn't just a pipe dream. Think on this:

-- A UK YouGov survey recently claimed iPad usage in business has doubled in the last year.

-- An Aberdeen Group survey points out that 96 percent of businesses have at least one iPad in use.

-- SAP now has at least 3,300 corporate--owned iPhones and over 11,000 iPads -- a move which has reduced tech spend by a significant amount.

That's just Apple's ecosystem. Google still has work to do to deliver a truly credible alternative to Cupertino's lead -- there's over 500 samples of Android OS malware in the market, with Websense predicting this will rise to "thousands" this year. What does that mean?

It means that at this stage, faced with a choice between re-investment in Windows 8 and the subsequent investment in PC upgrade for machines capable of running that OS, or a move to the credible and secure Apple ecosystem, tech buyers face a truly credible choice for the first time in years.

I said, evidence-based

And this is happening. Recent Gartner and IDC figures show a huge slump in the PC market worldwide -- but also reveals that Mac sales continue to climb, delivering Apple a PC marketshare in excess of 10 percent for the first time in years. I can still recall a time when critics, trolls and naysayers said this would never happen. A note to them: it did.

So what's next? I'm not arguing Apple will ever take over the enterprise, but it must be true to say that true security comes from not being 100 percent dependent on any one OS or computing platform. It makes the chosen platform too attractive to malware-makers: check out the domestic users with broken, virus-laden PCs they can't afford to fix as evidence of this.

The future of enterprise tech will not be Microsoft's. Instead the future will consist of heterogeneous collections of mixed-platforms. This will benefit everyone. Business will gain a more stable work environment. Consumers will benefit from their data shared with and within enterprises being safer than before -- at least, they will in the event enterprise users get it together to make the right decisions to ensure rock-solid security across all platforms.

Make good decisions, please

Virtual Private Networks; App installation policies; usage agreements for private devices on corporate networks; malware protection; fast software upgrades and switched-on, flexible disaster management policies will be among the topics which will matter deeply to business IT planners.

The danger is that in the event the wrong choices are made, then the promise of a global, heterogeneous and secure computing environment could be undermined.

Assuming these questions are resolved, then it's clearly arguable to say that, since 1997, Apple has ably fought back, disrupting not just the MP3 player, digital music, mobile and tablet markets, but also the enterprise sector.

Smart education

Intelligence led its decisions. Rather than compete directly, brandishing its cutlass of platform superiority, Apple achieved this PC tech revolution not through a frontal attack on Microsoft's hegemony, but through a focus on delivering the best devices out there, buoyed by the massive success of the iPad, iPhone and iPod.

Later this week, Apple will change the way our children learn, delivering tools which enable independent publishing and bang-up-to-date, responsive and attractive solutions which will end up making textbooks not something children should read and learn from, but things they want to use. And this will disrupt that market, too, answering the age old question once asked by a former US President, "Is our children learning?"

I hope the plan works. What are you expecting?

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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