Apple has become an HR issue for enterprise IT

If you want to attract and retain the very best employees, you let them use a Mac and iPhone, explains Jamf CEO Dean Hager.

Apple, iPhone, Mac, iPad, enterprise, Jamf, enterprise IT

If you want to attract and retain the very best employees, you let them use a Mac and iPhone, that’s the message of the latest employee choice survey from Jamf. I caught up with company CEO, Dean Hager, to discuss Apple’s bright future in enterprise IT.

Enterprises go Mac

It wasn’t so long ago Apple was a minnow in the enterprise pond with perhaps one or two percent share (or less).

You may have found a few Macs in the creative department, but you won’t have seen them much elsewhere. No one had even heard of an iPhone, and those smart(ish) mobiles that did exist usually had keyboards and tiny displays.

Even in 2010, Steve Jobs explained:

“What I love about the consumer market, that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that we come up with a product and we tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves.”

Jobs explained that the people who use products in the enterprise don’t get to choose them for themselves, adding (to laughter), “and the people who make those decisions are sometimes confused.”

In the background, people had started noticing more and more Apple logos in meeting rooms, at conferences, and in other enterprise scenarios. I saw for myself that in the boardroom, C-class execs were excited by what Apple was doing. Apple’s place in the enterprise looked more positive than ever before. Executive enthusiasm quickly hit the shop floor.

Things changed

These days enterprises let their people choose the platforms they want to use. This activity is happening at colossal scale. IBM, GE, Concentrix, Oath, SAP, and Capital One already have hundreds of thousands of Macs in active use across their companies. iOS is becoming pervasive across the enterprise. Apple recently revealed Europe’s Intesa Sanpaolo bank is deploying iOS apps, and LensCrafters is equipping 7,000 employees with iPad Pros.

These corporations are not simply following an imaginary trend. Apple is becoming a must-have platform in enterprise IT, partly because incoming employees like its products more than others.

A few highlights from this year’s Jamf report into device choice help establish this:

  • 68 percent of enterprise workers say technology choice makes them more productive.
  • 77 percent say they’re more likely to choose to work or stay at a company that offers device choice.

What happens when enterprise employees are given a choice?

The Jamf survey shows they choose Apple: 72 percent will choose a Mac and 75 percent an iPhone or iPad, in contrast to 28 percent who’ll choose a PC or 25 percent who might opt for Android.

“People buy what they want to use at home and hope they get to use the same platforms when they get to work,” said Hager. “If they are not issued the system they want to use, they’ll do as much as they can on their own Apple device and only use the work computer when they have to do so.”

IT has become an HR issue

“We now know enterprise employees will make life and career choices based on the technology they are asked to use,” Hager added.

“What this means is that the decision to deploy Macs (or iOS) is no longer for IT alone, but also a decision for HR and CEOs as they strive to attract and keep the best people,” said Hager.

“IT has become an HR issue.”

(Jamf has been running user choice surveys for years, but this year’s results also chose to evaluate the impact of these choices on how employees feel about their jobs.)

Fletcher Previn, vice president of Workplace as a Service at IBM, generated huge attention in 2016 when he revealed IBM to be saving up to $543 per Mac deployed in the company when compared to a PC over a four-year period in terms of TCO.

IBM gets the wider significance of this support. It knows that people will choose to apply to work on strength of the technology choices it makes available. To exploit this opportunity, it now tells people it permits use of Apple products in its recruitment videos.

The new Jamf data simply confirms this.

The first few percent

Apple already has good messages around security, privacy, ease of use, and more.

The fact that you can deploy its products in the enterprise and be confident those products will receive timely software and security updates, meaning any enterprise apps will work consistently across the technology fleet, is attractive. Seventy-six percent of iOS devices in use worldwide now run iOS 11, the most recent Apple data shows.

The move to deploy Apple products in enterprise IT means an ecosystem of third-party service providers, solutions developers, and systems integrators has emerged to help business make the migration.

That’s significant. Until very recently, moves to deploy Apple products required enterprises to figure out their own way to navigate any integration, management, and deployment problems they encountered. Businesses looking to do the same today enjoy a rich collection of experience and skills to help them navigate the task.

Thinking back to Jobs’ remarks in 2010, Hager observed: “Just six or seven years ago Mac [enterprise] deployment stood around 2 percent.”

Now, with 70 percent of employees desiring to use Apple’s products at work, there seems to be a real opportunity for a much bigger enterprise IT transition.

“What was the harder journey: growing from one to nine percent market share, or climbing from 10 to 70 percent?” asked Hager. “Because once you have the paradigm shift, management changes ... I would argue that the toughest part of the journey has already happened.”

The take-away?

Enterprises must understand that the technology choices they offer to employees will have a significant impact on productivity, recruitment, and staff retention. They now have a rich ecosystem of support to help them deploy new platforms in their business. Everyone benefits — users get familiar platforms they like, enterprises probably save some money over time, and Apple — Apple gets to build iPhone, iPad, and Mac market-share even as established PC players in the enterprise space enter decline.  

“When employers combine the freedom of technology choice with Apple, the results are stronger employee retention, productivity, and job satisfaction,” said Hager.

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Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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