IT department strategies change over time as industry trends emerge. More businesses are moving away from a top-down, device-focused management policy to a more user-centric IT model. There are many reasons why this change is taking place, with the shift to supporting Apple products in the enterprise being the chief catalyst. Let’s explore Apple’s influence, among other emerging industry trends that are shaping IT departments.

Apple on the rise
By now it’s no secret that Apple devices are being brought into the workplace through BYOD, employee choice and corporate-issued technology programs. Employees want to use the platform they are most comfortable and productive with—and for the younger workforce—that is often Apple. In a recent employee choice program survey conducted by JAMF Software, we discovered that 3 out of 4 employees choose Mac over their windows counterpart. Which, really confirms reports that Apple adoption is increasing in the enterprise.

When one looks back at Apple’s strategic moves over the past decade, this shift of Apple in the enterprise is clear. Back in 2008, native Active Directory and Exchange support were added to the Mac. This laid the groundwork for Macs becoming first class citizens on corporate networks. Apple continued enabling Mac growth by building in a mobile device management (MDM) framework and full disk encryption in 2010 and 2011. Finally, in the last two years Apple has partnered with IBM, Cisco and SAP to help transform the way employees work. To quote Tim Cook from the October 2015 earning announcement, “I doubt very many people knew we have a $25 billion enterprise business that we’ve quietly built in not too many years.” 

Device management solutions trying to keep pace
As previously mentioned, most IT departments are structured for a top-down management approach. Through years of evolving management tools and industry trends, there has emerged client management and enterprise mobility management tools—to manage laptops/desktops and the latter to manage all mobile devices. This was a good approach when mobile devices weren’t as smart or productive. Today, mobile devices like iPad and iPhone are capable of advanced business processes and productivity. So, when employees have their laptop managed with one management tool and one service portal, while their mobile device is managed by another, you get an inconsistent experience for users.

To address this inconsistent experience, device management vendors have tried to rally around the concept of unified endpoint management (UEM)—having one tool to manage everything. However, this leads to the refrigerator-toaster-combo scenario where you end up with one tool that doesn’t do anything great. UEM tools often drive up complexity and support costs because IT needs to play to the least common denominator, as opposed to embracing the richness of a native platform. For UEM to truly work, Apple, Google and Microsoft would have to band together and make a standard management protocol—not very likely. At JAMF, we believe the answer to this is to simply focus on the user and embrace the Apple platform.

By focusing on the Apple platform, IT can deliver the unique Apple user experience and put users at the center, rather than the devices. The Apple experience means it starts in the box versus starting with IT. IT also means day zero support of new operating systems and embracing Apple native tech, services and apps— as opposed to building in complex containers.

Apple’s Device Enrollment Program has allowed progressive IT departments to move away from traditional imaging since enrollment happens automatically during setup. This means IT can provide that unique out-of-the-box experience for new Apple devices by simply shipping Mac, iPad or iPhone directly to the user and allowing them to set it up. The less efficient way is to ship all devices to IT so they can manually image and provision them—costing substantial time and money.

Keeping current with Apple OS updates can be critical not only for security, but also for user satisfaction. Users expect to be able to update the same day as Apple releases a new operating system. The other way is for IT to dictate when OS upgrades can be deployed, often causing tension between users and IT.

Finally, focusing on the user means providing a native Apple experience and embracing the platform, not trying to build around it. This is evident in the implementation of the management software and whether or not vendors build up containers or leverage the system. 

To learn more about the emerging trend of user-centric IT and see how the Casper Suite can enable your organization to embrace the Apple experience, watch our video: Keeping Pace with IT and Technology Trends