Getting Macs into businesses despite the IT department

“Years ago computers were first bought mostly by companies to help with getting the jobs done. Next, after some time and the prices started coming down, company workers who saw how they worked at their job decided to get one for home “to do some work at home,” so that they could “get ahead” at work. Getting a computer for work and home is almost standard practice today among Americans,” Dennis Sellers writes for Macsimum News,

“But recently with all of the problems with Microsoft’s Windows problems and headaches more and more people are either switching from Windows to Macs at home or seriously considering switching. The reason? They see and experience all of the problems that they and their IT department has with the computers and the sometimes draconian way the IT department handles ‘new requests’ for changes to a worker’s computer; it becomes a fight to get things done. Some of the draconian ways the IT department handles things are necessary because of the lack of consistencies by company personnel, but this also prevents better tools like the Mac and Linux to break through the IT Windows shield,” Sellers writes.

“So more and more company employees are ditching their Windows computers and buying Macs for home,” Sellers writes.

“Is this the end of the issue? No. Because what we’re now seeing is that because of the downsizing, rightsizing, and other aspects of corporate shedding of jobs is that now the these workers are ‘thinking for themselves’ and switching to Macs because they know the problems they could have if they bought Windows for their own home and start up businesses,” Sellers writes. “…An interesting trend with the home purchases of Macs is that some of those hard-working people that are still working in corporate America are beginning to see what all older Mac users see: the myth that Macs are incompatible with Windows just isn’t true. They have been using their Macs at home for a while and are seeing how Macs can be favorably used in their work situations. They’re beginning to take their Mac laptops from home into work with them. They not only enjoy working on a Mac, but since they have fewer problems they’re able to get things done quicker on them at work.”

Sellers asks, “Would you rather take 30 steps to get something done on a Windows computer or about half that on a Mac? Then there are those who don’t use their work computer for much and don’t use all of its features because it’s too difficult to try to find out how to get something done or to get an answer to do a task. And some folks are simply tired of the number of reboots on a Windows system compared to a Mac. All these things result in saved time when using a Mac. It also means that employees are more productive when they’re happier—and that saves money for the company. Most of the problems come from the IT departments who see managers and directors buying Macs and tell them ‘so you bought into Apple’s marketing schemes’ when they bring in their Macs from home. But will upper or senior management listen to these cries of wanting better quality from the computer purchases?”

Sellers argues that Macs will come through corporate America’s back door in his full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There are many other reasons why the “IT guy” doesn’t want to discuss Macs, from job security to quite powerful psychological issues. More on the latter here: Defending Windows over Mac a sign of mental illness.

Related articles:
A corporate view of Apple’s Boot Camp announcement – April 07, 2006
Apple takes No. 1 spot in western Europe education; next step: overcome corporate IT ‘mistrust’ – March 05, 2006
Can Apple’s switch to Intel processors help Mac crack Windows’ corporate desktop stranglehold? – February 27, 2006
Is it time for your business to consider Apple Macintosh? – January 26, 2006
InformationWeek: Intel-based Macs won’t cause many businesses to replace their Windows PCs – January 16, 2006
Survey shows Apple Macs owned by nearly 10 percent of US small and medium-sized businesses – February 17, 2005
Group of America’s largest corporations complain about software vulnerabilities, security expenses – May 20, 2004

32 Comments

  1. Anyone know some good references that break down (in an unbias way) the advantages of keeping my mac at work versus switching to a PC? From a networking standpoint, I’m a pain to deal with, or so I’m told.

    I feel that telling them using a PC goes against everything I beleive in just won’t cut it.

  2. Why can’t this article be picked up by the AP? That is exactly what mainstream America needs to hear.

    Case in point – yesterday, it took me and hour and a half to do something on PowerPoint that I could have done on Keynote in 10 minutes AND it would have looked a hell of a lot better AND I could have done it the way I wanted to and not made so many work arounds/hack jobs to get it done.

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  3. MDN is likely wrong in their surmise that I.T. people are scared of losing their jobs due to Macs.

    I found that many, but not all I.T. people, just don’t have a clue about Macs and so are fearful of the unknown more than they are of it taking their jobs away. They also still see them as “graphics” or “media” tools rather than as a serious business computer.

    I used to work in an I.T. dept. of a medium sized company and they were PC all the way – even so far as getting a PC to be used as a “media” machine, despite my strong recommendations of a Mac for editing company videos, burning DVDs etc. The machine sat idle most of the time and I was often called to help those who had to use it (which of course, was like rubbing salt into my wounds.) This was a few years ago, but I still remember the intitial installation and testing the various apps such as DVD burning which of course crashed on startup and needed updating, which in turn required registration…. no easy to obtain downloads that day. It was a pathetic experience compared with iLife coming preinstalled and just working.

    Part of the problem is also the business software available – it’s a heck of a lot easier just to presume that a piece of software will run on your office PCs running Windows w/o having to spend the time researching whether it will (as you do with Macs and corporate software.) I can also picture some of the larger vendors snickering at you when you ask about Mac support.

    The most widespread not-available-on-the-Mac product used at that company was probably MS Access. Most departments had some staff with databases using MS Access as a back end (either by firing up MS Access or by using its libraries and having a stand-alone app written by an external 3rd party). It’s the most common choice for many people – despite its flaws. I hated it – it didn’t use standard SQL but some twisted, bastardized version, corrupted files regularly, and basically sucked in a lot of ways. It’s a product which has had its time and needs to be rewritten, but even if MS did so, it’s highly unlikely they’d port it to the Mac given its strategic importance in securing, and now maintaining, a Windows foothold.

    Someone mentioned Oracle – they do have a version of its database for Mac OS X, but I’m not sure about their other tools (appears from above comments they do support Macs – this is great news!)

    It’s interesting to note that many years ago, a brilliant early Business Intelligence product known as Gentium was developed (later changed names to Gentia) It was originally authored on the NeXT system, and ported to Windows. Nowadays I don’t know what’s happened to it (Google searching reveals it’s been bought out and can apparently be run in Java) My point is that NeXT of course is OS X’s heritage – if only it would be taken more seriously perhaps more amazing business tools will be written or ported across to Macs.

  4. I wanted.

    You are on the money. While IT people usually object to macs it is the availability of native biz software that kills the macs on the enterprise.

    Also a lot of software vendors use tools that are tied to proprietary MS technology so even if they wanted to support macs it would be difficult for them.

    I may acquire a biz that will require me to use a scheduling app on MS Access (yuck!) so I may host it at someone’s server and access it via my mac browser so I don’t have to deal with installing Windows on my environment.

  5. The lack of mac in enterprise is this:
    Outlook.
    Yeah, it’s just an email program, but it integrated with a calendar and contacts. And it works on exchange. Apple needs to CLONE outlook and implement in OSX natively. Entourrage is not enough. Change it’s name to MacOutlook, and you’ll uptake.

  6. LC:

    Check out:
    http://securityawareness.blogspot.com/2005/09/mad-as-hell-finale-recommendations-and.html

    This is a site with downloadable Total Cost of Ownership spreadsheets showing how much less Macs cost over time.

    Also see John Gruber’s excellent essay at:
    http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/broken_windows

    Finally, go to the article here on MDN called “Symantec: Microsoft’s ‘improvements’ to Vista could cause instability, new security flaws” at:

    http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/10213/

    and if that one isn’t enough, there are lots of great additional stories about how insecure Windows is and Vista will be. Good luck.

    Bibliotech

  7. I am currently porting several large Access databases to Filemaker Pro 8 Advanced. Thanks to several improvements in FMP 8 Advanced this is proving to be a simpler project than I expected. Of course, mid-project, Filemaker has released FMP 8.5 which may be even better, but my point is that Access databases can be converted to a cross platform solution fairly easily now. Hopefully I can use this experience to help more of my clients switch the Macs.

  8. As posted in a previous MDN news item, its my firm belief that any real market share gains for the Mac are going to have to begin from the corporate market place. For the consumer its ALL about perception.

    The “Average Jo”, assuming they’ve even heard of the Mac in any meaningful way, remains squeemish[sp?] about switching because he/she simply doesn’t know what to expect, and if something goes wrong, the feeling is understandably that there may not be anyone to help bail them out. Here’s my point: The more the average pc buyer sees Macs being used in corporations, the more secure they will feel making, what is perceived to be, a major change. (It will be perceptually tried and true by the business community.)

    All of this is of course based on mountiains of misconceptions perpetrated most often by IT pros in the form of cute and often cutting cliches about buying into Apple’s marketing schemes, the difficulty in getting Macs on the local network (yes I still hear that one alot), and etc. Even many IT pros honestly believe what they’ve been told about Macs, or more to the point, how terribly confusing the world will be if anything but Windows is used for business.

    As I said before, you have to look towards where it all really begins, and that’s in the halls of academia. I don’t know what it is exactly, but this we can all be sure of – Up and coming IT pros are almost exclusively taught
    Windows, and all things related to Windows. This is the bottom line.

    Other operating systems should be included in every IT program in every school in every country, period. IF there’s a conspiracy (illegal operating practices by a corporation) going on, then I beleive this is where it really happens – in schools. Maybe the very first thing an IT student is hit with is the idea that there’s no need to waste time with Macs because there aren’t enough of them being used in business to worry about. Maybe the next false doctrine they’re hit with is that to preserve their job security they must be experts in Windows and nothing else.

    On this later idea, its a myth to think that, just because a company uses more Macs no IT pros are going to be needed there. While fewer IT personal would be needed, Macintosh IT pros are none the less desperately needed in the work place. I can tell you from personal experience that I’m tired of doing our IT department’s work simply because he won’t have anything to do with Macs, and when you’ve got more than half a dozen Macs in the work place, it starts to get hard to get your work done.

    We need more Macs in the corporate workplace, and we need many more IT pros that are expert with Macs, and UNIX for that matter.

  9. Question for PC Support Gurus:

    I have an HP laptop given to me from work and I have a MacIntel running both Boot Camp and Parallels. Can I just Ghost (or other clone app) the HP to either of the Mac’s BC or parallels partitions and get it to work with all the standard apps and VPN stuff our IT department has pre-configured on it? I would then give back the HP or not use it as I cannot work without both environments, yet don’t want to carry both around.

    The three big Windows issues for me are access to the VPN (Internet Connect wont work for some reason), Exchange calendars (Entourage is not feature complete in delegation) and access to the server’s drives. If I can get these working I don’t even need virtualisation.

    BTW it was through the consumers (like CEOs) that MS displaced IBM in the office. Apple looks to try the same tact.

  10. John Denver’s missing head: “So more and more company employees are ditching their Windows computers and buying Macs for home,” Sellers writes.

    Data?”

    —> I have to agree that this is anecdotal evidence at best.

    “The thing of it is, many don’t even know that’s the overriding reason for their preference for Windows, and contempt (often hatred) for all things Apple.”

    “Make an all in one imac with a standard 17″ and 19″ screen (not cinema widescreen which is a pain for office applications), option out the airport and Blutooth (for security purposes), strip the iLife software, and sell for $999 ($100 more than the educational model). I’ll buy 50 as workstations tomorrow.”

    <u>Just food for thought – I am NOT a PC apologist:</u>

    One *BIG* thing that is being overlooked here – The Mac’s closed architecture(except for the PM’s). If you’re administering a large number of PC’s and a hard drive crashes, what does IT do? – They already have a replacement imaged drive ready that they can pop into your machine in minutes – easy replacement. Same goes for other components – graphics cards, CD/DVD drives, power suppliies etc. If you were administering a large number of iMacs, cracking them open and doing the same is not so simple (Although with a properly trained hardware person they can get the job done, but it is still a more involved process). If you’re using ALL PM’s then it’s not a factor *except* for *initial* cost. Not too long ago someone named “Dave” posted that he was administering iMacs and had to keep them running 24/7 for backup purposes. He said his machines had a *high* failure rate (I believe he said 100%). While this may be an exceptional case, swapping components on iMacs is much more difficult. And it voids the warranty (Apple may have special provisions for IT support though, so I can’t say this definitively). Anyway, it’s just a point to ponder.

    BTW: My brother is a music professor at a medium-size university. His building is ALL MAC – ALL PM’s too. With that setup, component swapping is just as easy as a PC. His IT guy must be lovin’ it. Speaking of that, he has only mentioned one person when he talks about the IT dept. There may be only *one* guy overseeing all the Mac’s in his building (I’ll have to verify that when I talk to him next).

    I suppose my point is that Apple has no lower cost alternative to the PM that gives easy accessibility to the innards and *HAS SLOTS*. A small form-factor PM would be *AWESOME*, but from the news stories, I don’t know if they will ever come out with something like that (recent stories are indicating that the logic board will be about the same size as the current PM’s).

    Anyway……..

  11. ©:

    when I was facilities manager and later IT manager of all Mac sites (300+ each), we never swapped out just the hard drive. There is no way we would do work on a staff member’s desk changing drives, video cards, etc. We would always replace the whole unit (we kept about 4 pre-configured iMacs on standby for repairs or new staff sprung on us). We would then bring the faulty machine back to the IT Department and work on it off-line, copying any recovered data back to the new unit via Timbuktu.

    With servers we kept all data on external firewire drives. If any server component died (apart from the external drive) we could have it up and running on a new iMac in 10 minutes downtime at most. This totally shock my IT manager peers and the PC-trained support staff we got in (before we were able to Mac-train them into a better way of operating).

    The staff member’s productivity was paramount, so getting them back up asap was more important than the inconvenience for us in breaking open a computer case. In the end there were very few we had to fix this way anyway.

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