Apple’s Enterprise Invasion: Why Winning in Consumer Means Winning in Enterprise

Ben Bajarin / January 26th, 2012

There used to be a time when I would go to tech industry events, trade shows, internal company meetings, etc. and I was one of the few in the room with a Mac. I took great pride in that fact, but now the Mac is gaining everywhere. It’s in schools, hospitals, labs, construction sites, restaurants, consumers’ homes, coffee shops, and now increasingly in the enterprise.

With this observation in mind it should come as no shock that Apple blew the doors off their latest earnings and recorded all time sales of Macs. My analyst colleague, Frank Gillet at Forester, shared his research which showed that 1 in 5 Global workers now use an Apple product for work.

So what is fueling this trend?

Apple Products Cost Less to Support

When I worked at Cypress Semiconductor, I moon-lighted from time to time and helped our IT department by solving Windows problems. I prided myself on the fact that I could troubleshoot Windows with the best of them. I could navigate my way in and out of all of the different and common Windows conflicts. Then a funny thing happened. I switched to the Mac and all of a sudden troubleshooting became a thing of the past. That reality is now hitting the enterprise IT departments.

A recent survey by the Enterprise Device Alliance which surveyed IT professionals in large enterprise environments that have a mix of Macs and PCs overwhelmingly found agreement with IT managers that Macs cost less than PCs to support. IT managers noted that Macs presented higher up front acquisition costs, but also noted that the long-term benefits were worth the tradeoff.

When it came to Mac adoption in the enterprise, ease of technical support and lower total cost of ownership were among the top reasons for the switch. Number one on their list–employee preference.

Bring Your Own Device To Work

If you follow this industry even a little bit you keep hearing about the “consumer-ization of IT” or the “Bring Your Own Device” trend. Yes, both trends are real and IT managers are diligently working to allow employees to use whatever devices they want at work.

We recently interviewed SAP’s CIO Oliver Bussman. He shared with us that inside SAP they have 14,000 iPads and 8,000 iPhones deployed. That is a total of 22,000 iOS devices compared to the 20,000 Blackberries deployed to his workers. SAP, like many other companies is working to cater to their employees’ device preference. And Mr Bussman shared an interesting perspective with us. He said that he now has to pay closer attention to what is going on in the consumer market because if he doesn’t, he would not be able to stay ahead of the game. His workers use and learn how to make things like the iPad work for them at home. Then they come to him and say they want to use it in the office as well. After his visit to CES, Mr. Bussman recorded a video of his thoughts on the consumer-ization of IT and it is worth watching as he has a very important perspective on the subject.

The Right Product for the Right Job

In the construction industry they say that “every job is easier with the right tools.” Perhaps for too long, due to the Windows monopoly on most businesses, IT managers have been forced to have workers use the same tool to get a multitude of jobs done. But now devices like the iPhone and iPad in particular are proving more effective in many situations like field force and sales force automation.

During our interview Oliver Bussman also shared with us that he was able to deploy 300 iPads to his global sales team in just 4 weeks. In many enterprise solutions, the iPad, and touch computing in general, is just a better tool for the job.

IT managers need to effectively empower their workforce to be productive and equipped with the tools they need to be successful. Apple products are now becoming a critical part of the enterprise tool set.

Apple’s focus has not been the corporate IT accounts. Apple has always been a consumer product company waiting for a pure consumer market to mature. Now that the consumer market for personal electronics has matured, it appears to also be an enterprise strategy. Demand for Apple products is at an all-time high with consumers and their latest earnings prove this. What no one really could have predicted was that to win in enterprise you had to also win in consumer. It seems logical, but hindsight is 20/20. That reality is now fueling growth in Apple’s favor from every corner of the technology sector. The scary thing for Apple competitors is that they are just getting started.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
  • bbrewer

    Nice article, well written.

  • Jack

    Apple didn’t have to market itself to the corporations, it simply made good products and the employees demanded to have them at work.

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