Apple's new world: enterprise IT

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Driven by mobile, Apple is emerging as a significant player in enterprise IT. It’s a big change. After all, ever since Microsoft claimed enterprise IT dominance toward the end of the 20th century, the sector has traditionally resisted Apple as it continued to focus on the consumer and multimedia sphere.

That resistance thawed when the iPhone spawned the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, and today Apple has a strong position. “Among corporate smartphone buyers, iPhone customer satisfaction was 95 percent. And of those planning to purchase smartphones in the June quarter, 79 percent plan to purchase iPhone,” said Apple CFO, Luca Maestri during the Q2 2017 conference call.

Gartner claims Apple, Samsung, and Google have become the top three IT vendors by revenue, with the iPhone maker far ahead of its rivals. Through a series of partnerships, the Mac maker is working to consolidate this new enterprise position.

Apple, Cisco, and cybersecurity

Enterprise partners include multiple systems integrators, big brands like IBM, SAP and even Cisco. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, spoke to Cisco developers at the recent Cisco Live! Event, where the two firms made joint announcements around cybersecurity and more.

We are really excited about the deeper partnership between Cisco and Apple,” Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said.

Cisco will introduce the Cisco Security Connector program for iOS devices in 2017. This provides a variety of enterprise-focused management tools, boosting compliance, security and data integrity.

Cisco and Apple are also developing a corporate cybersecurity insurance scheme that promises lower insurance premiums to enterprises using iOS and Cisco solutions. The premise is that if you use the most secure platforms then you should not need to pay the same for your insurance as those using less secure platforms. Cisco believes its solutions used with Apple’s form a more secure combination than any other offer in the space.

“We will do this by enabling continuous security monitoring and a measurable reference architecture that includes technologies from Apple and Cisco,” Cisco explained.

Cisco and Apple have also worked to integrate access to Cisco’s WebEx and Spark collaboration solutions from within iOS 11. This is important, as “over 27 percent of work-related calls are now made on a mobile device,” according to Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s General Manager IoT and Collaboration. These key partnerships and support from the more established names within enterprise IT are driving the Apple story in the space.

Good Technology says iPhones accounted for 72 percent of all enterprise smartphone activations during Q1 2017, while iPad accounted for 81 percent of tablet activations.

The economic case

There is an economic argument in favour of iOS for enterprise mobility. Forrester claims an airline deploying a suite of iOS enterprise apps can expect up to a 48 percent ROI across three years, with a 30 percent cut in development costs and a 10 percent reduction in operating costs.

Apple’s growing mobile presence is also boosting Mac adoption, with IBM switching most of its employees to the platform. Over 100,000 are expected to be using Macs by the end of 2017. IBM claims to save up to $543 per Mac in contrast to Windows TCO.

When (and if) Cisco and Apple manage to convince cybersecurity insurers of the relative security of their joint solutions, the notion that enterprise users can save on insurance costs will introduce a new strand to Apple’s economic case to enterprise IT.

Windows XP remains the third most popular OS in the work (7 percent, says Netmarketshare). Despite the recent WannaCry attack, that’s twice the market share of the Mac. Apple’s challenge now is to migrate the goodwill it has built in the mobile enterprise to stake space in the PC replacement cycle.

Read more about security, mobility and collaboration from Orange Business Services. 

Jon Evans

Jon Evans is highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men’s interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.