"The reasons employees want more control are many, but our surveys show that the top reasons why they spend their own money on technology (which gives them control) is that it makes them personally more efficient and productive, it allows for a better work/life balance, and gives them higher job satisfaction," Johnson says.
"Twice as many employees want Macs than have them already," he says. "All of the research is there. So what IBM and Apple are doing is legitimizing what's already going on."
It's also worth noting that Apple's $25 billion enterprise business represents just one-eighth of its annual revenue.
Tom Mainelli, vice president of devices and displays at IDC, says Apple isn't alone in this push for greater adoption among businesses. While Google's Chromebooks are primarily popular in the education market, an increasing number of companies look at the cloud-based devices as legitimate options as well, according to Mainelli. (IDC is a sister company of IDG, which owns CIO.com.)
IT touch points wane amid the rise of Apple devices
One of the biggest challenges for IT is coming up with "Apple-like" deployment methods for Macs, according to Dean Hager, CEO at JAMF Software. That quintessential Apple experience needs to begin at the point of purchase and continue earnestly through deployment and ongoing management, he says.
Apple devices should be deployed in a way that doesn't position IT as being restrictive, Hager says. "The users should not see that the management of the device is in some way preventing them from using the device to its full capacity," he says. "They should see the management of the device as something that's unleashing the power that they wouldn't otherwise have."
One of the first things CIOs notice when they roll out Macs is "zero-touch deployment," according to Hager. When Hager took the reigns at JAMF in June, he received a company-supplied MacBook and iPad with nothing but small Post-It notes affixed to the outside. "There wasn't a team of people loading up my machine, it was still shrink-wrapped on my first day of work," he says. "There is no need for IT to ever touch that system that goes to the user. Furthermore, the user doesn't even have to implement a command."
"I think only a fraction of businesses are aware this possible yet," says Hager. "If you're an IT shop and you slaved over imaging 10,000 Microsoft devices and you just deployed your first 1,000 MacBooks and you never touched them, what is the next thousand devices that you want to deploy?"
Despite IBM's wholehearted embrace of Macs in the workforce, they can represent real challenges that CIOs and IT leaders must overcome, including higher up-front costs and compatibility issues with legacy infrastructure, applications, hardware and accessories.
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