In recent weeks, Apple introduced enterprise-focused updates at WWDC, Jamf filed its hugely successful IPO and Apple acquired Fleetsmith. This frenetic Apple-in-the-enterprise activity is generating lots of conversation. I spoke with Addigy founder and CEO Jason Dettbarn,to get his take on mobility, IT and Apple’s growing place in enterprise tech.
What next for Apple in the enterprise?
“We see Apple continuing to build more tooling and investment in the enterprise with MDM,” Dettbarn said via email. “Additionally, we’re extremely excited about Apple investing in fabricating its own silicon for Macs, as well as huge investments in macOS, and the provision of cross-functional iOS Apps now becoming available on the Mac.
He’s also got high expectations around the future of Apple notebooks.
“While it may take a few years, the modern laptop, through the innovations of Apple Silicon, may see its next large leaps in innovation,” he said. “Development right at the silicon layer means there will be advancements in enterprise security and management that will also be ground-breaking.
The cloud is coming
Dettbarn worked at IT vendor Kaseya before quitting his job and launching Addigy to build a cloud-based IT management platform for Macs.
He notes the built-in Unix core of Macs as part of his motivation for building the platform, noting the “infinite extensibility” of the platform. “The modern cloud platform era is here, and tools like Addigy are growing quickly,” he said.
We know that Apple’s market share has expanded in the enterprise, as iPods pulled Windows users onto Apple and the iPhone and iPad pushed enterprises to the Mac.
Dettbarn compares this shift to the recent success of Zoom. Like Apple, Zoom wasn’t adopted by the IT departments, but by executives and staff. “They liked the ability to build Zoom rooms, replacing highly coveted conference room real estate,” he said.
When it comes to enterprise adoption of the Mac, Apple’s original PC platform was initially relegated to the marketing department and C-level executives, but over time usage – and demand – grew.
“Apple’s commitment to privacy and security within Mac hardware and software has only strengthened IT’s adoption,” he said.
Strengths and weaknesses
What really works in the Mac’s favor?
Dettbarn pointed to the five years of usable life enterprises can expect from their Mac deployments. Echoing everyone from IBM to SAP, he noted that building products employees love and that also deliver compelling return on investment in terms of device lifecycle “is something Apple has nailed.”
Apple has also been developing features to help enterprises manage their Mac fleets more effectively. Third-party vendors large and small help fill in the gaps for the incredibly diverse needs of the business market – in part because most enterprises find it can be burdensome to keep up with new Apple features (Business Manager, Apps and Books, etc.) as they are introduced
Dettbarn is positive about Apple’s acquisition of Fleetsmith: “We believe Apple investing in the talent from Fleetsmith is key to providing a better experience for enterprise businesses,” he said.
Working nice with Microsoft
Microsoft has traditionally been the vendor for the enterprise, but it has pivoted its business away from platform provision and into infrastructure and service provision models, such as Azure or Intune.
Most Mac MDM vendors now support these at some level, which eases the process of managing Macs in business. “It’s a very important integration that Addigy provides for single-sign-on to the Mac via Azure and many other areas of growing compliance and management for both Windows and Mac together within the enterprise,” Dettbarn said.
The impact of COVID-19
No one can ignore the impact of COVID-19 on the way we live, work and learn today. The move to remote working hasn’t been universal – many of the most essential jobs, sanitation, nursing, emergency services, retail work cannot be handled remotely – and the pandemic really has highlighted who keeps the world going.
It has also revealed fresh problems around enterprise security. As more people have worked from home, the pandemic has exposed the inherent security vulnerabilities in doing so. “The pandemic has solidified the need to manage the endpoints no matter where in the world they are, providing the highest level of security and productivity for their employees.” said Dettbarn.
He couldn’t help but point out the inherent security advantages of Apple’s platforms for this, saying:
“I always find it ridiculous when companies complain about the cost of Macs, when it’s less than 1 percent of the employees’ annual compensation (amortized over average Mac lifecycle). Yet these assets are the pillar workhorses of productivity and company security.”
Solutions from MDM vendors help ensure Macs are updated, secured and protected without too much user intervention. “It can provide everything IT is used to and needs for full management, security, and the best overall experience/productivity for their users,” he observes.
What’s next for AR?
“Apple is really good about building a need with the underlying technology framework, and thus AR has not met its potential yet,” he said. “Apple didn’t ship machine learning alone, it released Face ID; they didn’t ship NFC, they shipped ApplePay. I do think AR is on the horizon, maybe it will be released through Apple Glasses…. Only Apple knows.”
Are you in the business of digital transformation? An enterprise embracing choice schemes, or a company who’d like to share your experience? I’ve spent years on a mission to learn everything there is to know about Apple in the enterprise, so please drop me a line. (And if you want initial advice to help guide your journey, feel free to ask.)
Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.