Long dominated by Windows-based PCs, enterprises are increasingly turning to Apple devices – and reporting significant benefits from making the strategic change.
Long considered to cause interoperability and integration issues, Apple devices such as Macs and iPads were usually relegated to marketing and creative departments. The workhorses driving day-to-day business processes remained very much in the Microsoft universe.
But the tide is shifting. Industry research shows that, in 2015, more than 300 million Apple devices were shipped around the world. For the first time, that is more than the total number of Windows-based PC shipped during the same period.
One of the key drivers is the popularity of Apple computing devices among consumers. Intuitive interfaces and stylish designs have made them popular replacements for traditional PCs in the home. Now employees are demanding similar benefits in the workplace… and employers are taking notice.
A recent survey conducted by JAMF found 73 percent of business managers believe technology choice is important for encouraging employee productivity. Rather than forcing staff to use provided devices, increasing numbers are offering a choice or implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. Interestingly, growing numbers of staff are selecting Apple as their device of choice.
Apple and enterprise IT
As well as appealing to the desires of employees, having an increasing proportion of Apple devices in an organisation can also deliver benefits to the IT department. When people are able to use a device with which they have become familiar in their personal lives, their need for support actually decreases.
Those organisations where Macs and iPads have increased in numbers report lower call volumes to help desks and a reduced load on the IT team. It is important not to underestimate the power of employee self-sufficiency and the benefits this can deliver to an organisation.
Apple itself has also helped by increasing its focus on the enterprise market. This began back in 2006 when the company adopted the industry-standard Intel processor, making the task of writing software for the platform significantly easier.
Apple followed this step with the implementation of ActiveSync for Microsoft Exchange in 2008 and the introduction of Mobile Device Management in 2010. Both initiatives helped to reduce the management load on the IT department.
These moves were followed by the introduction of a disk encryption system for Apple devices in 2011, a partnership with IBM in 2014, and another with Cisco in 2015. Each served to further strengthen Apple as a force to be taken seriously in the enterprise market. As a result, the number of devices in use has continued to climb.
Improved user support
A shift to Apple device usage can provide an organisation with an opportunity to reframe the overall relationship between the IT department and users. Rather than the old ‘them and us’ attitude, which is endemic in many places, a more cooperative relationship can be created.
Some organisations are installing facilities that mimic the Apple Genius bars found inside the company’s retail stores. Rather than staff logging problems, they can simply call by and speak face-to-face with a technical expert should any issues arise. The result is a drop in helpdesk tickets and more productive staff.
Organisations are also reporting an increase in self and peer support. Because users are used to finding their own answers when using devices at home, they tend to take a similar approach in the work environment. This, in turn, can eliminate many of the most common calls to the company IT help desk.
Real business benefits
From a business benefits perspective, a shift to Apple devices can deliver demonstrable results for an organisation. Freed from day-to-day management tasks, the IT team can instead focus on the business mission and spend time and resources on projects that will add more value in the future.
The finance department can benefit too. Because Apple hardware tends to hold a higher residual value than other devices, better leasing arrangements can be achieved as they can be resold at the end of the term for a higher price.
Offering the option of using Apple devices in the workplace can also serve to make an organisation a more attractive place to work. With the battle to attract talented staff a constant issue, any factors that can help attract talent has to be welcomed.
The bottom line is that a growing presence of Apple devices in the enterprise can deliver productivity improvements, cost reductions and an overall change in staff attitudes and engagement. It’s certainly a trend that’s worth further investigation.
by Jamie Davidson, country manager – ANZ, JAMF Software