12 thoughts on the new Apple enterprise

With Apple's place in the enterprise growing, what do CIOs need to understand today as they make decisions for tomorrow?

Apple, enterprise, iPhone, iPad, Mac
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Apple’s growing place in enterprise IT means you’re already seeing more of its logos appear in meetings, conferences, and in the field. What do enterprise CIOs need to understand today as they make decisions for tomorrow?

Complexity sucks

It doesn’t matter how important your business process is, there really is no excuse for fiddly and complex user interfaces, often used features that are nested deep in the innards of the app, or inconsistent software behavior. If your workers are using better computers at home, or better mobile devices, then they will use consumer applications to do the same task no matter how much you warn them about "Grey IT."

Policy is meaningless

That brings me to my next point: security policy. Again, there’s no excuse for overly complex or anti-intuitive security policy outside of a high security business. (Someone at the FBI may expect to follow complex security protocol, but someone at another large firm probably won’t.)

You see, while the protocols may have been designed to protect company data, the more you forbid employees from doing ordinary tasks they’re used to doing more efficiently using their own solutions, the more likely you are to create a scenario in which an employee somehow breaks protocol, something bad happens, and they then don’t let you know about the crisis event. Security policy needs to be as friction-free as user interfaces. This doesn’t mean you’re left insecure — quite the reverse — a security policy people follow to is going to be inherently more secure than one they ignore. Use MDM, containerization, and all the other helpful tools available to help your business secure its data.

Technology is meaningless

It doesn’t matter how much reassurance you’ve been given by the experts you’ve hired to advise on your digital transformation, nor is it important how many squadrillion dollars you may (or may not) have spent on the tech you think will help drive these new efficiencies. If the eventual solution is too kludgy, inefficient, unreliable, or otherwise full of friction, then your employees will not engage with it. Oh, and don’t humiliate them by telling them you are paying them so they have to do as you say because that’s when you will discover ...

Tech is an HR matter

We are used to using technology. I’ll repeat that: WE ARE USED TO USING TECHNOLOGY. Most consumers (at least in the most economically developed nations) already use iPhones, Macs, and iPads at home. If you insist on making your employees use solutions they consider second rate, you will see the cost of recruitment and retention rise. How much does it cost to identify and hire someone? How much does it cost to train them? If the tools you force employees to use are less effective than the products they use in their own lives, they won’t stick around. This will impact business efficiency, productivity, and staff morale. So, why not look to the top, because ...

It starts at the top

If your C-class executive teams all want to use Apple products, then it’s reasonable to assume most of your employees want to use them, too. If your business depends on tech (and all businesses today just about do), then surely it makes sense to ensure your workers have the best available tools? In addition, if you want your employees to start using some new digital processes to get things done, you'd best make sure you're using them, too. If it's not good enough for you, why is it good enough for them?

Ignorance is not power

What platforms are your new employees used to using? How much time and money do you want to squander training them to use something else?

Windows are open

Well, perhaps not entirely, but Microsoft gets that it has lost the mobile wars and understands that the future of computing is more mobile than PC-based. That’s why it offers Office 365 (which works almost everywhere) and why it invests so much cash in developing enterprise-class solutions that work in the cloud.

Legacy is legacy

I often hear Enterprise Platform Change Deniers claim that Microsoft still dominates the enterprise, or that Macs/other Apple products just aren’t compatible with their existing software infrastructure. To them, I offer an observation: If the software your business relies on is incompatible with Apple products, then there’s a reasonably high probability it’s also incompatible with other third-party applications, services, and solutions.

Given that the future of business is partly based on effective technology partnerships, then be warned that victory in your industry will more likely go to those of your competitors who figure out how to transition their tech infrastructure to more compatible platforms that are more extensible and more analytical, too.

Security and privacy aren’t luxury items

Security doesn’t stop with your enterprise software solutions — cloud-based or no. It also depends on the platforms you use. Given that malware attacks are climbing at an astonishing rate, surely it makes sense to migrate systems to platforms that receive regular OS updates that are then quickly applied across the whole ecosystem. Your tech support and security teams will have a much better time if all the tech solutions used across your company are running the most recent OS software and the most recent security patch.

The same applies to privacy — you don’t want sophisticated criminals to piece together access to your back-end systems through a series of cunning phishing attacks on your employees, particularly if those are made easier by non-existent platform security upgrades being available for their handset or device.

Cost is not what it seems

It’s not just the cost of the solutions. It’s also how much it costs to train people to use them; the cost of support and upgrade; the cost of security; the price of HR, recruitment, and staff retention; the cost consequences of grey IT impacting robust enterprise systems or violating GDPR; the cost of tech support, software licensing and compatibility; international business standards support; and more. Not to mention the usable life of the solutions you put in place. When enterprise CIOs get to upgrade those legacy computing systems, they’d be well-advised to consider the cost consequences of the things that aren’t even included in the bill as they reach their decisions.

The first hurdle is the hardest

It was only a few years ago that Macs in the enterprise were a rarity. That meant enterprises choosing to use Apple’s platforms had to figure out all the integration challenges by themselves. That’s no longer the case, with oodles of third-party vendors offering a range of services designed to make Apple enterprise integration easier. This should boost enterprise buying confidence.

What does this mean?

I’ll put it this way: Enterprise chiefs looking to upgrade their technologies will find it easier than ever to migrate to Apple. I think they probably will.

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