Apple's Dramatic Rise in the Enterprise Tests CIOs

One in five information workers now uses an Apple product for work, says Forrester. Is Microsoft's dominance at an end? One thing is for certain: CIOs must deal with the Apple impact.

It's Apple season, even in the enterprise.

Macs, iPads, iPhones and other consumer devices are pouring into companies at an alarming rate, creating all sorts of problems for CIOs, according to recent reports. The consumerization of IT trend sweeping the nation has led to a spike in security breaches, shady vendor selling practices, and rogue end-users.

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One in five information workers uses an Apple product for work, according to a recent Forrester survey of 10,000 respondents across 17 countries. The type of Apple product is evenly split: 11 percent using iPhones, 9 percent using iPads, 8 percent using Macs, 6 percent using two or more Apple products.

"Microsoft is still a dominant presence in personal technology for work with Windows for PCs and the Office productivity suite," writes Forrester analyst Frank Gillett. "But our data shows that Apple is already present with 41 percent of executives. Coupled with Microsoft's absence on mobile devices, this signals that Windows' dominance is at an end."

Earlier this week, Apple posted monster earnings for the holiday quarter, $13 billion profit on $46 billion revenue, which included record sales of iPhones, iPads and Macs.

On the enterprise front, Apple says nearly all of the Fortune 500 approve iPhones for employees and are actively using iPads to improve workflows, business processes and customer engagement. Some 1.5 million iPads are being used at education institutions.

Forrester's survey wasn't as rosy as Apple's own claims, yet the results are still impressive: 46 percent of companies have issued Macs to employees, 27 percent support the iPad, and 37 percent support the iPhone.

The iPad is looking more like the future. Another Forrester report released earlier this month predicts CIOs will pour $19 billion into Apple computers in 2012—$10 billion in iPads, $9 billion in Macs—up from around $12 billion last year. Enterprise IT support and interest for the iPad exceeds Mac levels, Forrester says.

Slideshow: 15 Ways iPad Goes to Work

And then there are employees who bring consumer gadgets to work without IT's approval.

YouSendIt, a business content collaboration services provider, conducted a joint survey with GigaOM Pro that shed light on such rogue behavior. Nearly two-thirds of business managers reported using a consumer product or service for content collaboration that IT did not know about or sanction.

So what's the early fallout from the consumerization of IT? For CIOs, it ain't pretty.

Avanade, a business technology services firm, surveyed more than 600 C-level executives, business unit leaders and IT decision makers late last year. A shocking finding: More than half of companies reported experiencing a security breach as a result of consumer gadgets.

Even worse, the majority of companies are not investing in training for IT staff or employees to manage the risks.

CIOs trying to corral the consumerization of IT face daunting challenges, mostly courtesy of Apple. Online services such as Box, Dropbox and Evernote are applying Apple's lesson of courting individual workers rather than companies at large in order to grow their businesses, Forrester says.

Mobile upstarts at the AppNation Mobile Enterprise Summit held in San Francisco earlier this month were told to take a cue from Apple and court business end users, such as line-of-business managers, which amounts to an end-run around the CIO when selling software and services.

"By the time IT learns about SaaS, the business is already using it," Tom Gonser, founder and chief strategy officer at DocuSign, told the crowd.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.com

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