What's needed to consolidate Apple’s enterprise gains?

Apple's recent moves show it wants to consolidate its place in the enterprise.

Apple, iOS, Mac, enterprise, mobile, business

Enterprise adoption of Macs, iPads, and iPhones grew dramatically during the pandemic. Apple and its enterprise partners want to consolidate this expansion in 2022, which should be another big year in hardware investment.

Delivering a growth strategy

We’ve been watching the Apple in the enterprise expand rapidly throughout the pandemic; 2021 was a record year for hardware sales as companies invested in computers and devices to support hybrid teams. Apple evidently benefited.

Apple in the business sector is now served by more MDM providers than ever and competition among Apple-focused enterprise service providers is intensifying. Why? Because enterprise demand for Apple products has never been higher, and — pushed by employee preferences — deployment continues to grow. At the same time,  enterprise spending on devices climbed 15.1% this year and will maintain those levels (albeit with slower growth) into 2022, according to Gartner.

Apple surely wants to maintain its foothold of this expanding market. It knows M-series Macs are winning converts, even as enterprise iPad sales continue to grow. With a view to maintaining this momentum, Apple Business Essentials is a strategically important step to make its solutions more attractive to business users. The scheme acts as a gateway to provide smaller businesses with an easy-to-manage entry point into the larger world of MDM solutions served by Apple partners, including Jamf.

Get your lease on

But enhancing the availability of support for Apple devices isn’t the only trend in the enterprise space the company is trying to address. There’s an emerging desire among enterprise users to lease their technology hardware, claims BNP Paribas.

The BNP Paribas research shows 76% of IT hardware continues to be purchased outright in Europe, but suggests businesses are moving toward access, rather than ownership. That’s not surprising, given that 77% of businesses already lease vehicles. Leasing computers makes sense — particularly while handling limited budgets during international crisis.

Apple perhaps is quietly working to meet the growing desire for leasing tech. We recently learned of an arrangement between Apple and financing partner CIT under which US businesses can lease their Macs from as little as $30/month/machine. The scheme makes it easier for companies to field Apple devices across their business – and may also help them deploy devices across remote teams as hybrid workplaces are normalized.

We don’t yet know if this push reflects a wider global strategy to enable business users to access Apple as a service, or whether it reflects a single offer from one place. But even this isn’t the end of the story.

What follows deployment?

That’s because even with effective MDM solutions and leasing schemes, businesses have a lot of work to do to unlock the opportunities of digital transformation. Pre-pandemic, a Deloitte survey showed that despite huge mobile device deployments, many enterprises continue to use dated business practices.

That report describes simple, but critical, key tasks that can’t yet be handled by mobile devices: 59% of employees can’t complete timesheets, for example; 39% can’t file holiday requests; and just 41% are able to approve invoices on mobile devices.

This reflects a reality in which many businesses haven’t yet shifted their mindset enough to change existing business practices, and changing them poses additional demand on tech budgets. Gartner says 65% of corporate board members want to accelerate digital transformation projects.

There’s a need to meet those pain points head on — particularly when enterprises are juggling a big basket of challenges, not limited by but including: COVID-19 issues, supply chain challenges, a mass move to hybrid work, employees who want  technology choice, the Great Resignation, considerations around office space reduction, and the need to deploy new kit to support the new workplace.

This cornucopia of challenge is nurturing recognition that investment in new digital business processes may be essential in order to help businesses navigate these sometimes-conflicting problems.

While Apple Business Essentials and the new business leasing scheme may help resolve some of these pain points, the next stage to consolidate Apple’s gains in the enterprise market will depend on partners such as IBM, Cisco, SAP, and others delivering accessible tools Apple-wielding businesses can affordably use to quickly and easily digitize their business processes.

Perhaps Apple might encourage such development by creating an App Store for the enterprise?

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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