Enterprise Use of Apple Rising, but IT Resources Lagging

A new study found that while a majority of IT professionals now support Apple, they're not seeing added resources to help with the shift.

Apple enterprise

If you're an enterprise that still doesn't support Apple devices, you're part of a slim and shrinking minority, according to a new report from Dimensional Research.

The report was sponsored by JAMF Software, which creates management software for the Apple platform.

To answer a question of whether Apple devices are being managed as effectively and efficiently as other devices, the firm surveyed more than 300 IT professionals. It found that more than 90 percent of businesses support Apple devices; specifically, 91 percent are supporting iPhones, 89 percent support iPads and 60 percent support Macs.

More than half said they're supporting between 50 and 500 Apple devices; 14 percent said they support between 500 and 1,000 devices and 11 percent between 1,000 and 5,000.

The report, released June 10, called the pace of Apple adoption "frantic."

"In 2011, 67 percent of the companies indicated that Apple devices made up less than 10 percent of the end-user devices," states the report. "In just three years, 68 percent of the companies now state that Apple devices account for more than 10 percent of all end-user devices; 35 percent ... reveal that 25 percent or more of end-user devices are now Apple products."

User preference (78 percent) was the top reason cited for supporting Apple, the Dimensional Research study found, followed by higher productivity (35 percent) and the need for apps only available on Apple devices (29 percent).

When asked about the biggest challenges to supporting Apple devices, 50 percent said the readiness of their enterprise, just as many said the cost of supporting Apple devices, and 44 percent said inadequate tools for managing Apple software.

Twenty percent of respondents also said they expect to hire more staff to manage Apple devices, and 40 percent said they'll receive additional budget specifically to support Apple. Yet 43 percent said they wouldn't receive a budget increase, and 60 percent said existing staff will need to educate themselves about Apple products.

"Apple devices are not easily managed, contrary to popular perception," states the report. "While Apple has become prevalent in the enterprise, it is adding workload and additional challenges to the IT team."

Further, 25 percent of those surveyed said they are "not confident" in the device management solutions they currently have for Apple devices while 55 percent called themselves "somewhat confident."

"IT teams are in a challenging situation," concluded Dimensional Research. While Apple devices are increasingly prevalent, their presence isn't being matched with new resources and funds. They need to find solutions, the report added, "or face criticism from an increasingly powerful customer—the end user."

Couldn’t some resources, less needed as worker needs change, be shifted?

Tad Johnson, commercial marketing manager at JAMF, said Apple devices are replacing Windows devices and BlackBerry smartphones, to some extent.

“But the bigger story is that the relationship between users, technology and IT is evolving,” he told eWEEK. “IT groups are rearranging and re-prioritizing to prepare for this new reality.”

Apple, during its June 2 introduction of iOS 8, said it will offer new features for enterprise users when the OS arrives this fall. These will include new deployment tools for IT, so that devices can be provisioned online (instead of physically and one by one); expanded security features; and the ability for users to see how their devices are configured, managed and restricted.