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Will this be the year of Apple in the enterprise?

Ryan Faas | Feb. 1, 2012
Apple has never been considered an enterprise technology company, but it owns a significant share of the mobile enterprise market, largely due to the success of the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.

This is a non-issue with iPad deployments, since pilot projects and testing can be started at any time. It's also worth noting that deployments can be managed with today's infrastructure. There's no need to adjust or upgrade Active Directory, Exchange or similar core technologies, which may be necessary for Windows 8 group policies and client management.

The second flaw in arguing that Windows 8 tablets will automatically beat the iPad ignores a core factor in the consumerization of IT and BYOD programs -- the influence and choice of users.

As users have grown more comfortable with technology, they've begun to play a more active role in IT decision-making -- and they may not want a Windows 8 tablet to replace their iPads. One of the reasons BYOD programs succeed is that they empower users to choose the technologies with which they are most comfortable and productive. Of course, in a BYOD program, IT's preferences often take a back seat to user choices to some extent. Even in organizations without a BYOD paradigm, users are exerting more and more dominance in their use of technology, at the expense of even informing IT in some cases.

This is a trend that will be very difficult to reverse, particularly as many executives, managers and mobile staff members have already become used to the iPad as an everyday tool. Coupled with that, there has been an embracing of iOS apps and their use in workflows for all manner of tasks that users may not see a value in changing.

In fact, given the growing need in almost every IT department to embrace, support and manage multiple mobile technologies, even the "familiarity with Windows" argument begins to falter. IT professionals have become accustomed to supporting other technologies like iOS and Android.

It's also important to note that, in addition to having a head start, Apple hasn't rested on its laurels with the iPad. The iPad 2 offered notable improvements over its predecessor. And iOS 5 offers a better experience than iOS 4 for professional tasks and even some management capabilities. That's a trend we can expect to continue in iOS 6.

A robust app ecosystem is another iPad advantage, particularly given that Windows 8 apps designed specifically for a tablet interface have yet to emerge. There are thousands of business tools out there already that are designed around the specific interface needs and advantages of the iPad's form factor, many of which are profession- and industry-specific. That includes a whole range of business intelligence, CRM, ERP and collaboration tools -- to say nothing of the potential for VDI solutions.

Whither Apple's relationship with the enterprise in 2012?


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