While Apple is the go to smartphone and tablet device manufacturer for a majority of North American consumers, breaking into the enterprise market has traditionally been far more difficult. Windows machines have dominated the business world since the 1990s. This creates plenty of barriers for businesses that are looking to transition to Apple, beyond just the upfront capital costs.
Many IT managers and support teams have spent their entire careers working solely within the Windows ecosystem. This can inevitably lead to the shoehorning of ill fitting Windows-based standards and practices when tasked with managing Apple devices.
However, we’re witnessing a gradual shift towards increased Mac OS and iOS device usage among businesses. What’s more, we could see a continuation of this trend, driven by factors including the bring your own device to work trend, employees using their own devices while homeworking, and the perceived value-add of Apple device usage when recruiting staff, especially millennials.
Therefore, businesses that embrace either a hybrid-OS environment, or decide to transition fully to Apple devices, need to carefully plan their transition. And while the barriers may seem high, this shouldn’t deter you from making a decision that’s in your long term interest.
Be Aware of the Challenges
The first thing you must do is assess the challenges within your organization in order to understand the scope of work. If you have in-house IT management and support teams, what is their knowledge level and competencies when it comes to working with Mac OS and iOS devices? The chances are they will require at least some training to bring them up to speed with the new environment they will be responsible for maintaining. Factor in the time and cost of this training into the project budget.
If you outsource your IT management and support functions to a Management Service Provider (MSP), do they provide support to Apple devices? If they don’t, you’ll need to find a new MSP before you start the transition.
The next consideration is data security. If you’re operating in a sensitive industry such as finance or healthcare, you’ve no doubt already invested significantly in security protocols in order to achieve compliance standards. Assess how transitioning away from Windows machines could impact on your security protocols and if any remedial work is required in order to maintain compliance as part of the transition.
Budgeting and costs should also be a major consideration for any business. There may be a lot of “hidden costs” that aren’t immediately apparent, especially if the project manager lacks experience with Windows to Apple transitions. These can include the costs associated with Windows software compatibility issues, updating data security protocols and upskilling IT support teams (as mentioned above), the potential higher fees if moving to an Apple-certified MSP, and updating Windows legacy infrastructure.
Another key consideration is any mission-critical software that is Windows-only. This is often the case with software that was built in-house, but can also be the case with commercial software.
Plan Smart Solutions
If your project management and IT teams lack experience with Windows to Apple transitions, then this will make overcoming the challenges and avoiding common pitfalls all the more difficult. It’s in these instances that many businesses partner with an experienced Apple-certified MSP. Not only can an MSP procure devices and software on your behalf, they can also project manage the transition. This can help with proper budgeting and cost containment, as it’ll reduce the risk of the project plan omitting any significant expenses.
When it comes to data security considerations, decide whether this can be comfortably managed in house, or whether this should be outsourced to an agency with expertise in this area. Again, if you’re contracting the services of an MSP, they may be able to help you with this. However, if your business conforms to specific compliance standards, such as HIPAA or NIST, ensure that the MSP you’re partnering with has the required certifications to handle this.
Mission-critical Windows-only software is a knotty issue that must be appropriately managed. If it is possible to develop a Mac OS compatible version, weigh up the pros and cons of this, to decide whether this is worth the investment, or if it’s a better option to maintain some Windows machines specifically to continue running this software.
Should My Business Transition to Apple?
It’s undeniable that transitioning to Apple comes with a high price tag. Apple devices cost more on average than Windows and Android devices, and the implementation comes with plenty of other costs attached as well. However, once a business has made the initial investment, they will often recoup this cost in reduced support costs and higher productivity.
In a recent Forrester’s study it concluded that Apple devices have less off-time and are easier to fix, and have a longer lifespan with many businesses supporting Apple devices up to seven years old, which saves on replacement costs over time. In similar research by IBM, it concluded that Apple users submit fewer support tickets and a single engineer can manage more devices compared to Windows machines.
When it comes to productivity, the same Forrester’s study concluded that switching to Apple devices improved employee performance and engagement, increased retention rates by 20%, improved sales performance by 5%, and provided an extra 48 hours of productivity per employee over three years.
So should your business take the plunge and transition to Apple? Well, as with most big decisions, it depends. The only way to make an informed choice is to to understand what’s involved in the transition, how much it will cost, and what the impact of this is likely to be.
However, whether you transition fully to Apple devices or not, the chances are your organization already has some Apple device usage among your employees. Therefore, basic support for Apple devices, either in-house or externally, is becoming increasingly important for all types of businesses.
Written by Steven Freidkin, CEO of Ntiva, an MSP providing IT services, cybersecurity services and IT consulting for today’s technology-dependent businesses. Steven works with Ntiva clients to align their organizational initiatives and growth efforts with technology; developing strategic growth plans for Ntiva; identifying opportunities for business development; and last but not least, creating an environment for top technical talent to develop.