Enterprise use of Macs about to expand ‘substantially’

Anecdotal data indicates companies are about to expand their Mac deployments 'substantially,' says Apple-focused MDM solutions provider MobileIron.

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If you’re in the business of supporting heterogeneous mobile/desktop computer deployments in the enterprise, then you already know which way the industry is shifting.

MobileIron gets a Mac

MobileIron today introduced the latest edition of its MDM solution for enterprise IT, bringing in support for iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra.

I exchanged some thoughts with the company’s chief marketing and strategy officer, Ojas Rege, who shared his insights into Apple’s growing grip on enterprise IT, which he called a “night and day transformation from 2010 to now.”

The story of Apple’s growing grip on enterprise markets begins with BYOD and iOS, but driven by cost and TCO advantages, macOS is now also seeing wider adoption.

“Today, Apple provides two of the primary computing platforms for the enterprise, which was not the case in the prior decade when BlackBerry owned the smartphone and Microsoft owned the desktop,” says Rege.

“Employees like using Macs, but enterprise adoption was historically inhibited by cost and security. Now, the hardware cost gap between Macs and PCs is shrinking due to high residual value for Macs and favorable leasing terms. That makes large-scale Mac deployments cost effective.” IBM says Apple is now “pervasive” in the enterprise.

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What drove Apple adoption in the enterprise 

What’s happened is that consumers entering the workplace drove adoption of iOS devices.

Noting this, Apple in 2010 put lots of investment into iOS 4 security solutions and reached out to partners (such as JAMF, IBM, MobileIron, and others) in an attempt to make it much easier for enterprise IT to support its platforms in mixed OS networks.

This attempt paid off.

Rege observes: “Over the next several years, iOS users and particularly millennials started to show preference for Apple Macs. As Apple began unifying the security models of iOS and macOS, IT became more comfortable supporting Macs for employees.”

While you can still find pockets of resistance to Apple adoption, the arguments they make seem increasingly weak as enterprise ecosystems mature into mobile, cloud-based, platform agnostic deployments in which security and usability are defining end user need.

Enterprise support for Mac and Apple has now become the smart choice.

Apple meanwhile continues to build strong partnerships across the existing enterprise ecosystem, while survey after survey show that where its products are deployed by enterprises, businesses see employee satisfaction, usage and productivity benefits.

The MobileIron story

MobileIron joined Apple on its ride into the enterprise in 2009. Apple’s Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall even mentioned the company’s fledgling MDM solutions during the keynote introduction of iOS 4 in April 2010.

“We were just a young start-up with a handful of customers on the cusp of an enterprise revolution at the time,” Rege recalled.

“Receiving a public shout-out from Apple was an incredible moment I’ll never forget. We have continued to work closely with Apple ever since, and almost 100 percent of our customers support Apple operating systems.”

Signs of a Mac renaissance in the enterprise 

With millions of unsupported computers requiring immediate replacement, the signs are that Mac use in enterprise IT may soon reach a fresh renaissance.

“Our anecdotal data indicates that companies are on the verge of expanding their Mac deployments substantially,” said Rege, “which seems consistent with what we’ve heard from the industry analyst community.”

Apple also has another advantage.

The incoming employee base already puts its faith in Mac. “Most of our customers have Macs, and what they’ve told us is that the new generation of employees — millennials — all want Macs,” says Rege.

His anecdotal claim is supported by the evidence.

Multiple reports claim Apple has become the number one brand among millennials.

Many more reports confirm — again and again — that Apple’s users are the most loyal and the most engaged in contrast to any other computer/mobile platform.

This is pester power at its best, and it’s driving employers to provide Apple tech to incoming employees. This is in itself driving an increase in use of Macs across the enterprise, and will be a big consideration during the next enterprise upgrade cycle.

Security matters

One big problem — at least among traditionalists in tech support — is security. Ask any Mac user, and you know that the platform is far more secure than its competitor. But it doesn’t work like a PC, and that means the platform doesn’t fit into some existing enterprise security architectures.

That’s been excuse enough to suppress Mac deployment, but CIOs can now demand Mac support: MobileIron’s security suite provides an easy-to-deploy protective shield that is designed to meet the most stringent security protocols.

Apple’s recent announcement of a security-focused partnership with Cisco should also act as a change agent, illustrating as it does Cupertino’s deep focus on providing best-in-the-industry security across all its platforms.

It’s not just about technology

All these changes in the IT landscape are deep.

We see changing user behavior, transforming expectations and rapidly proliferating digital — often cloud-based — workflows that extend all the way from the desktop to a wearable device.

We see data analytics yielding real-time business insights that can suggest new products and services to business lucky enough to be equipped to meet these newly revealed needs.

I asked Rege how he sees enterprise IT changing in the next few years, he said the following:

Speed wins. As Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, said, ‘In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish; it is the fast fish which eats the slow fish.'

"The fundamental disruption for enterprise IT across the next few years is not technical; it’s changing the clock speed of the organization. Application deployment time shrinks from two years to two months, while application lifecycles shrink from five years to one year.

"A developer can quickly make a service available to the world (cloud) and end users can (will) use it whenever they want and wherever they want (mobile). The move to mobile and cloud drives innovation and constant change in the application landscape. Every single IT process from design to procurement to operation to migration will need to be 10 times faster in order to create business advantage.”

It seems clear that in order to realize the digital transformation opportunity, enterprises need to make sure their technology investments enable them to deliver new levels of agility and responsiveness.

Engagement in the technologies and the devices they run on are critical within this emerging business environment.

What do I think?

I think it’s pretty clear which platform provider delivers the most engaging experiences that may unlock the opportunity of this transformation.

Are you seeing Macs deployed across your enterprise? Does your business already use iOS devices? How big a change has this been for your company? What works well, what works less well? Please let me know via Twitter (below).

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