Mac adoption in enterprise grows, survey says

Parallels survey finds that more than 55% of businesses now use or permit the use of Macs.

Apple, Parallels, macOS, Mac, enterprise, enterprise IT, OS X
Willis Lai/IDG

With Apple’s online WWDC 2020 event promising huge news for the entire Apple ecosystem, spare a thought for the company’s push into the enterprise, where most businesses now already use or permit the use of Macs.

Change already happened

Parallels recently published a survey exploring Mac use in small and medium-sized enterprises; it found that 55% of businesses are now Mac-friendly, and this extends across a broad range of industries.

Who's using the Macs?

Creative and marketing departments, of course, are on board. But it was IT departments making the most use of the products, the survey found. What is IT using these Macs for? Software development, apparently, perhaps reflecting the need to create cross-platform apps for connected enterprise – or perhaps just because the cost of ownership is lower and the platform more reliable – as both SAP and IBM have previously confirmed.

Many of these Macs reflect the trend toward BYOD in most enterprises, though it is slightly concerning that many of these personal devices used at work “lack device management and control.” That sounds like a data problem waiting to happen. (Use Jamf or something, people.)

It’s also interesting that these Mac deployments in business are global – though just 9% of SMBs have more than 1,000 Macs across their organization.

Why use Mac?

The research suggests the main driver for use for most businesses is performance, with Macs perceived as the best tool for the task. Security, Apple device compatibility, ease-of-use and the fact employees prefer using Macs are also cited as major reasons.

Employees already want to take the devices they use at home to work, and at home they often use Macs.

[Also read: 10+ reasons enterprises need an employee choice program]

When they must, many (42.2%) SMBs use client-based virtualization tools to run Windows on the Mac (which, of course, Parallels makes). However, the main reason not to use a Mac at this time seem to be “concerns around application compatibility."

That last element will hopefully raise some alarm bells within Apple, given that we now expect to be told of the company’s plans to migrate Macs to its own self-developed ARM-based A-series processors: Will these run Windows? Will these new breed of Macs be compatible with the sometimes enterprise-unique applications the company’s growing business market needs?

We may find out at WWDC 2020.

The cost of ownership of Macs against PCs remains a stubborn myth that impedes Apple’s growth in the enterprise space. While IBM has gone on the record to state that on a per-device basis, Macs work out much cheaper to run than PCs in the long run, that initial sales cost still gives enterprise IT purchasers pause for thought.

Of course, IBM first began challenging the "Macs are more expensive" trope back in 2016 when it explained how it saves more than $500 when employees choose a Mac rather than a Windows PC for work.

It is possible that a move to its own processors may enable Apple to offer Macs at lower prices, but that's unlikely given the company usually pushes the value envelope in preference to price. Either way, we must wait and see if this flips the needle of enterprise market share – that the needle is flipping should not be in doubt.

The survey explains that around half the IT professionals spoken to believe Mac market share is climbing:

“Because the respondents are IT professionals, many hold positions that allow them to observe these trends from an authoritative vantage point (for example, system administrators, IT managers and helpdesk staff),” it explains.

This tallies with recent Changewave data that showed Apple as a top three vendor in the enterprise space, which is a position that would have been unthinkable not long ago.

With WWDC looming, it will be interesting to see to what extent Apple’s plans embrace its hard won position in the enterprise markets, and to what extent its plans move the envelope (for or against) in the space.

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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