The Applefication of the Enterprise, Part V: Apple’s Ecosystem

In Part IV of this series, I provided an example of an organization in dire need of some Applefication. In this concluding part, I look at Apple’s ecosystem.

Think about what has happened over the last five years in the technology world. In a word, the developments have been amazing. Trends and events that we are only beginning to comprehend include:

  • The consumerization of IT has changed the game. Period.
  • iPhones are replacing Blackberries, even in many conservative organizations.
  • Apple stores have redefined retail, bringing unprecedented levels of energy to malls.
  • iTunes’ one-click purchasing saved the music industry–and iBooks is on track to do the same thing with college textbooks.
  • 3-year olds use iPads.
  • iPads are replacing traditional laptops for many employees.
  • Private app stores are emerging.

We’ve seen the start of an important emerging trend: the Applefication of the enteprise. And if you think that Applefication is confined to knowledge and white-collar workers, think again. Even blue collar workers are increasingly using iPads and iPhones in the workplace.

How Apple is Conquering the Enterprise

While more expensive than their alternatives, Apple products are worth a premium in the eyes of many consumers. Credit their ease of use and popularity and elegant design. And it is this very popularity that should ensure the continued development and support of new and existing apps. Translation: Apple’s ecosystem is stronger than ever, something hardly lost on technology decision makers in large organizations.

This is critical. Imagine the horror of CIOs that bought HP TouchPads en masse in July of 2011, only to find out weeks later that HP was effectively killing the device.

Whoops.

Apple’s penetration of the enterprise stems from many factors. Exhibit A: Its ecosystem. The strength of Apple’s ecosystem means that enterprise apps will continue to be developed for its products–and probably at an increasing rate. Force.com and Jive software are but two examples.

Apple’s ecosystem includes–and, in fact, may center upon–the rapid deployment of apps. While apps don’t really work for complex ERP and CRM apps (yet), the AppStore model better is clearly a superior one. Launching apps requires far less IT involvement and cost relative to traditional deployments. While initially proven in the consumer space, companies like Genentech are adapting it to the enteprise world.

And the model just makes sense, especially among talented, in-demand employees–many of whom who have left jobs because they were forced to use deficient technologies.

Finally, while not a major factor, Steve Jobs’ death shed light on his genius. Today, it’s just plain hip to be associated with Apple.

Competitor Missteps

As brilliantly as Apple has executed, that alone doesn’t explain the whole story. No, we have to look outward. Apple can credit a number of other external factors for its increasing enterprise penetration, including:

  • End user and IT frustration with existing applications, infrastructure.
  • Too many chiefs. Many IT departments are fed up with attempting to navigate complex EULAs, OEM agreements, and support issues among a cadre of vendors such as Microsoft and PC manufacturers like Lenovo.
  • Disappointment with ROI on past IT projects.
  • A new breed of CIOs and IT heads. These folks are less conservative and more open to new ways of doing things.
  • Microsoft has fumbled the ball a few times. Vista bombed (look at its adoption rate in big companies) and the company failed to embrace cloud computing early on.
  • HP hemmed and hawed on its PC business.

Of course, with respect to the tablet, until recently the iPad until recently faced no legitimate alternative. While that has changed with the success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, the iPad is clearly a superior—if more expensive—device.

In the next part of the series, I’ll take a look at the future.

Category: Enterprise2.0
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