Cisco’s Mac choice scheme confirms Apple’s future in enterprise tech


Two-thirds of employees would use a Mac at work if given the choice, and companies that fail to offer hardware options to their employees are making a mistake.

That’s one of the inferences I see reprised in a report exploring Cisco’s approach to Mac deployment across its business that crossed my desk last week. Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin looked at Cisco’s Mac enterprise team, now led by former IBM CIO Fletcher Previn.

At IBM, Previn shared vast amounts of internal data to show that employees preferred Macs and those who do cost the company less in tech support, are more loyal, and they’re more productive.

“Mac users are happier and more productive,” Previn said.

He believes the IT you provide to workers reflects how your company thinks about its employees. One way to show respect: offer them platform choice.

Bajarin says too many companies don’t — and even those that seemingly do offer platform options do so half-heartedly, without full tech support. 

“Often, it means getting cut off from managed upgrades, support tickets, and often lack of access to applications,” he writes. “Most IT organizations keep the Mac users in their organization at arm’s length.”

When given the choice, users go Mac

But that’s not the case at Cisco. The company says 59% of new hires are choosing Macs and 65% of existing workers switch to Apple’s platform when they get the chance to upgrade.

There are 56,000 Macs in use at Cisco. These work alongside 68,000 Windows PCs (under 50% of which are used by internal employees). There are also 56,000 mobile devices, 85% of them running iOS.

This tech stack is spread across 500 offices in 99 nations with 140,000 employees requiring tech support.

Cisco has found that when employees using Windows laptops were given the chance to upgrade, 24% of them chose to switch to Mac.

The direction of travel isn’t terribly hard to see. IDC estimates the average penetration of Macs in use across US enterprise has already hit 23%.

The employee experience is your business

Employee satisfaction benefits from choice and the desire to use the same great technologies at work that’s available at home. Business must see that failing to provide tech choice erodes employee experience, which in turn generates poor productivity and damages staff retention. This demoralization also reduces employee engagement, which then impacts the customer experience.

In other words, not offering device choice is bad for business. No wonder Bajarin believes there’s a great deal of “pent-up demand for Macs in the workplace.”

We know the demand is accelerating because, as Jamf CEO Dean Hager once told me, “Technology isn’t just part of the employee experience, it is the entire employee experience. So employers are going to want to make it a good one.”

The evolution of enterprise tech

The momentum Apple has built in the enterprise has spawned a vast ecosystem of enterprise-friendly solutions providers who can help integrate its kit into existing deployments. Cisco even spoke at Jamf’s annual JNUC event to explain how it supports Macs across its business. (You can watch that video here.)

That means for most organizations there is no good argument to deny Apple’s platforms full white-glove tech support, device management, or managed upgrades.

At Cisco (as at IBM, SAP and elsewhere) we’ve seen big companies bring Mac expertise in-house to ensure users on their teams don’t suffer through a second-rate experience. Why, to coin a phrase, live like the Jetsons at home and the Flintstones at work?

“The Mac has become an essential workplace tool and there is no escaping that reality,” writes Bajarin.

Considering all the recent evidence, it’s hard to do anything but agree.

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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