Apple's iOS dominates enterprise mobility, data shows

When it comes to actually getting work done, iOS is responsible for 82% of mobile enterprise activity — even the Mac punches above its marketshare weight.

Apple, enterprise, Mac, iOS, iPhone, Egnyte
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Fresh Egnyte data confirms what I’ve been saying for years: iOS absolutely dominates the enterprise, and Mac usage effectively eclipses that platform’s market share.

Apple's real world

Data scientists at Egnyte analyzed 25 petabytes of customer data and 4 million enterprise-related activities performed by enterprise employees to figure out how businesses are working today.

They found that 82 percent of work done on mobile took place on iOS, while 25 percent of work done on a desktop was via macOS.

I find the latter statistic quite thought-provoking — how come Macs are used to get 25 percent of enterprise tasks done, yet Mac market share remains 5 to 9 percent. Clearly where Macs are deployed, they are being well used.

I spoke with Egnyte’s chief strategy officer, Isabelle Guis, to get a few more insights, beyond those she wrote in "Enterprise Insights: How Businesses are Getting Work Done."

“Apple still has a very consumer-facing identity and has not positioned itself as an enterprise-grade vendor like Microsoft,” she said. “Microsoft solutions are still viewed as more secure and more robust. Therefore, when it comes to company-wide standards (in terms of IT), Microsoft tends to still be the de facto standard.”

There are some signs of this changing.

Since Apple announced an iOS enterprise-focused partnership with IBM, the company has reached useful partnership deals in the space, including the recently announced Accenture deal for enterprise mobility.

That seems to be a good plan.

“Building a strong ecosystem of technology partners to support any business applications organizations need is critical to win over this sector,” said Guis.

Macs for the enterprise?

There are some (myself among them) who think Apple’s success in enterprise mobility will inspire more businesses to invest in Macs.

The Egnyte CSO isn’t convinced:

We do not see a strong correlation between smartphone preference and desktop preferences. The trends in our data actually show the opposite. … It is purely a matter of users selecting what each vendor is best at.”

That means Microsoft will continue to dominate the desktop, at least for a while. All the same, cross-platform compatibility is becoming increasingly important.

“The time of vertically integrated solutions where your phone had to be compatible with your desktop and your browser needed to be on the same OS is over,” said Guis.

“For one vendor to be selected for all interfaces (browser, phone, desktop, etc.) you need to be the best at all of them, which is nearly impossible with all of the specialized roles within organizations these days — HR, Finance, Marketing, Sales, and so on."

Interoperability is critical

It’s fair to say that enterprise technology was relatively monolithic toward the end of the last century. One technology software vendor pretty much dominated the market.

However, the impact of BYOD and mobile computing has broken that monoculture.

Security concerns, business efficiency and the need to support offsite and onsite mobile infrastructure mean most enterprises are rapidly becoming more heterogonous.

This increasing diversity means technology and software suppliers must focus on interoperability. Customers need this to support increasingly digitized workflows.

“Given that users are getting more sophisticated and they are working with whatever tool/device helps them get their work done most efficiently, vendors are being forced to become more interoperable with one another. Rather than switch their entire workflow to one vendor, they will continue to mix and match as they see fit,” said Guis.

“If you deploy a solution that is robust on Windows but heavily lacking on the iOS side, your business will significantly struggle,” she wrote.

I believe C-suite executives making purchasing decisions will be interested in taking a second look at Apple’s desktop ecosystem, particularly since IBM confirmed Apple’s solutions are way cheaper to run than those from Microsoft.

Meanwhile, as enterprise users look to cloud, SaaS and connected data solutions, software is replacing hardware in an increasing number of tasks. I can’t help but imagine that now a platform that accounts for just 10 percent of the market is being used for 25 percent of the desktop computing tasks taking place within the modern enterprise, it is only a matter of time until the platform itself proliferates in the enterprise. Guis’ analysis does seem to favor further evolution of mixed platform setups, defined by actual mission-related need.

Beyond the personal cloud

Apple’s iCloud isn’t really an enterprise product. Nor, for that matter and despite their popularity, are off-the-shelf consumer solutions such as Dropbox, Box, and so on. Enterprise users look to secure, bespoke cloud services that are in tight control and maintained in line with corporate security protocol.

To further its reach within enterprise markets, Apple will need to maintain its investment in partnerships by bringing in enterprise standard applications such as Office or Creative suite and by consistently placing focus on security in cloud service provision.

“The major X-factor here for Apple is their ability to create those seamless experiences with security in mind,” says Guis.

She noted some heavily publicized phishing attacks on iCloud as staining the company’s reputation for security, saying, “They will need to strengthen their reputation in that area by adding more security features and improving their messaging around security/towards businesses, or fostering significant partnerships with security companies.”

Apple’s security-focused partnership with Cisco and plans to introduce lower cost cybersecurity insurance for enterprises coalescing around Apple/Cisco solutions matches that need quite well.

You don’t even need to read between the lines to see that the impact of mobility on Apple’s enterprise business has been utterly profound.

With digital processes weaving themselves inside almost every business process, the long-term effect seems likely to transform Apple’s future business.

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