Mac is more popular in business now than ever before. While sales of PCs continue to grow at a single-digit pace yearly (all sales globally, notwithstanding the pandemic years), Mac sales took a major jump shortly after the introduction of Apple silicon—their M1 chip. And incredibly, based on surveys conducted in 2021, Mac enjoys a 23% share in the U.S. enterprise market. That’s a seismic level of share growth in just two years from 17% in 2019.1 This level of popularity in business was unthinkable just 10 years ago when IT departments still had a myriad of objections to the macOS platform.
Why Is This Happening?
- The performance of Apple’s new M1 and M2 chips—in terms of processing speed and battery life—has been a driving factor.
- With full control over the production of their own processors, Apple was able to launch a MacBook Air that sells for just over $1,000—a price point previously unheard of in the Mac world and one that’s quite palatable for most IT departments.
- The employee experience has become increasingly strategic in nature due to its direct impact on recruiting and retaining talent. Device choice is a big plus in the employee experience ledger.
Is Your Organization Behind the Curve?
Most companies have Mac devices floating around. They’re considered critical for certain roles—like graphic design and development. But a healthy percentage of organizations still have not embraced Mac as a legitimate alternative for general knowledge workers.
If your company falls into that category (let’s call it the “Mac-less” category) and you’re reading this article, you’re probably at least considering a change that will have a substantially positive impact on your organization’s employee experience. If you’re looking for some tips on how to make the transition as painless as possible, you’ve come to the right place.
If you’re Mac-less, you’re probably not managing the few Mac devices your organization already has with device management software. This may or may not be a problem, depending on whether you’re currently using a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) solution to manage your other (non-Mac) devices.
UEM is a device management system that’s capable of managing almost any platform and device type for any use case. If you have a UEM right now that does a good job of managing macOS, your shift to the “Mac as a choice” paradigm is going to be a matter of organizational change management for the most part. Depending on the skills your existing admins possess, you may need to do some hiring to get macOS expertise in-house—and get those people some training on how to operate your UEM’s macOS functionality. If your UEM solution vendor is a good one, they’ll have free online or fee-based live training—as well as professional services—all of which can help get your team up to speed. All things considered; this is going to be the most painless of all the possible situations the Mac-less might find themselves in.
If you’re using a UEM solution that does a poor job of managing Mac, or if your current device management system doesn’t manage macOS at all, the rest of this blog is for you. With many years of experience working with companies that have made this transition, we can make some suggestions—and tell you WHY we’re making them.
One theme you’ll notice throughout this article is FLEXIBILITY. You need flexible tools to help future proof your org. With flexible tools, IT will be ready to handle new needs, requirements, or regulations as they present themselves.
Multiple Device Management Tools? Not Ideal.
You’ll need device management software to manage all the platforms your employees use at any kind of scale. Most organizations that have embraced Mac (let’s call this the “Mac-Co” category) have at least four or five different operating systems to manage. This includes at least two desktop operating systems—possibly three if they have a significant number of Linux machines—and two mobile operating systems. Companies that utilize rugged devices and wearables for frontline workers may have up to nine different operating systems they need to manage.
This may seem like a daunting task, and a situation that can only be addressed using a handful of disparate device management systems. But in most cases, it’s best to consolidate as many of these platforms as possible using a single and effective device management solution. Notice the use of the word “effective.” Not all UEMs can manage all OSs effectively, so it’s a good idea to run proof-of-concept tests (POCs) to find out if these tools have the functionality you need. And you’ll want a UEM that supports devices whether they’re “bring your own device” (BYOD), corporate owned, or corporate owned/personally enabled (COPE). Even if you don’t enable all those use cases today, someday you might. This kind of flexibility, even if it seems like something you don’t currently need, helps you future proof your technology.
But why the need to consolidate, you ask? Why not field five different device management systems, or have one for each different OS?
A Team of Specialists? Not Ideal.
Let’s start with the training required to effectively operate multiple systems. While disparate device management solutions are used to accomplish by and large the same things, the way they operate can be quite different. Vendors and/or resellers will make various solution-specific training programs available when you sign up for them. As a result, you’d wind up with a team full of specialists: people who are solid on one system but not much good on any of the others. If one of them is sick for a day, things could get ugly. Or, far worse, if one of them leaves…well, you can clearly see that this is not the most effective form of team composition.
But if all your admins are using the same device management solution, then it’s much easier to have a team of generalists, each of whom can effectively work on any type of operating system.
Too Many Integrations
Here’s where flexibility becomes key. Let’s consider what happens when you want to expand your stack with solutions beyond device management. Example: Your company is growing, and you want to implement an advanced analytics tool that can create in-depth reports and dashboards that will make your job easier and make your team more proactive. A tool like that needs a great deal of data from your device management software. If you have four different device management systems, that’s four different integrations you’ll pay for and maintain. Because every time any one of your systems is updated, there’s a risk one or more of your integrations will need to be massaged—especially if any of them have been customized in any way.
Now consider that there are tools you’ll want to look at beyond analytics. What about remote support solutions? Automation? Advanced mobile protection? Digital employee experience management? We’ll discuss the value of these things later in this article, but if you’re using multiple device management systems, every time you upgrade your IT management capability, you also upgrade your complexity at an exponential rate, making for a brittle bundle of technology.
There are many other factors to consider as well. It’s easier to create a true partner relationship—to get to know multiple people in the organization who can help you, and to have your voice heard—when you’re managing more devices with a single vendor. You can probably think of several more benefits as well, like having to go through the renewal process with just one vendor, and so on.
As good as modern device management can be, the best solutions will allow you to automate the most tedious tasks with macOS and other platforms. Think about what your team of admins does every day. Which tasks take up the most time? In an advanced device management solution, an effective automation engine should be built in—and should be able to do a MYRIAD of things, including:
- Automate your updates
- Automate complex or group app deployments
- Automate desired state management based on specified criteria or sensor values
These are just a few examples of the many things you should be able to do with your solution. But automation is not necessarily a panacea, because automation tools can be difficult to use. In many cases there are so many scripts involved, you almost have to be a programmer. So be careful when selecting a tool—you don’t want to force your team members to write pages of script in order to get any automation—at all—out of your tool. That’s a good way to ensure the tool is never used.
Of course, the engine must include the ability to import scripts. This allows experienced admins to develop the most highly advanced automated workflows. But it should also be equipped with a GUI that just about any admin can use to build out relatively complex automated workflows. A UI that allows users to drag and drop building blocks—like applications, sensors, and canned scripts—and add them to a canvas is a great way to get your entire staff involved in automation.
Look for Expansion Beyond Device Management.
As organizations grow, they invariably require IT solutions beyond device management. It would make great sense to purchase those solutions from your device management vendor if the vendor can provide these peripheral tools as well. But the fact is that most vendors tend to be very limited in the additional tools they offer beyond device management. Which is unfortunate because a device management vendor is the one software company able to create the tightest, most bulletproof possible integration between its device management software and its peripheral tools.
Other than ensuring the most reliable integrations, there are two other reasons to go with a company that offers its own IT solutions beyond device management.
- First, that company knows its own device management system better than any third party ever will. It knows every single field of data that’s available. it knows how its customers use that data. It has studied what its customers want out of that data. Therefore, it knows best how to build an analytics tool, an employee experience management tool, or a remote support tool on top of that specific device management solution.
- Secondly, and just as importantly, the device management vendor can tie all these systems together so they work hand in hand to make each other better. For instance, the employee experience solution can not only pull data from device management, but also from the advanced analytics tool—if you happen to have that as well. This type of cross-pollination just isn’t possible if you’re forced to rely on third parties to build out your full suite. And that means you just can’t get the same richness and depth of functionality out of third-party tools.
Managing macOS devices with the same device management platform you use to manage your other devices lets you streamline and simplify your management processes and software licenses. The flexibility of a true UEM with low/no-code orchestration furthers your team’s capabilities and potential. For more information on the topics we’ve addressed here, please see the links below.
Resources from VMware
• Learn more about VMware Workspace ONE for macOS management
• Download the e-book to learn even more about Workspace ONE for macOS management
• Learn more about Freestyle Orchestrator, the built-in low-code/no-code automation engine in Workspace ONE
• Learn about VMware Digital Employee Experience Management, a solution that can help IT move from reactive to proactive
1 Secure Mac, 2023, The growth of Mac in the enterprise