IBM: Every Mac we buy is making and saving us money

“The video shows Fletcher Previn, VP of Workplace-as-a-Service at IBM telling the 2015 JAMF Nation User Conference about IBM’s huge Mac deployment project,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “‘We really view the Mac@IBM program as driving transformation as IBM becomes a more agile enterprise,’ Previn explained.

“That’s a fairly critical admission from the company as it means IBM believes that enterprises hoping to fully embrace the opportunity for digital transformation should think about adopting solutions from Apple,” Evans writes. “‘40,000 or our employees never come to work in an IBM office,’ Previn said. Historically, there has also been long-term demand from employees who’ve wanted to use Macs at IBM. ‘This is something people want, it makes them happier and makes them more productive,’ he said.”

“IBM now has 130,000 Mac and iOS devices deployed and is adding an additional 1,900 Macs each week, using Apple’s Device Enrolment Program to facilitate the process. These thousands of Macs are supported by just 24 help and support staff. The Mac support team effectively support 5,375 employees each,” Evans writes. “That’s not a lot of support staff. Just 5 percent of IBM’s Mac using employees need to call the help desk; In contrast an astonishing 40 percent of PC using staff call the help desk.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s gratifying to finally see reality being recognized. Better late than never!

We told ’em so – over eight years ago:

Note to CEOs: Your IT department should not be making final hardware and software purchasing decisions. They should be supporting your company’s technology needs. You should get independent viewpoints (find people who recommend Macs and make them explain why) and retain the decision-making role for yourselves. Don’t settle for Windows-only shackles. A marked increase in productivity and reliability for your company is there for the taking. You can get Macs and seamlessly integrate them into your business – even if all you do at first is run Windows on them. You can explore Mac OS X and better ways of doing things according to your own timeline (hint: start by using Keynote instead of PowerPoint for your presentations and watch your audiences perk up). Just don’t expect your IT people to ever recommend Apple, as they may have ulterior motives for sticking with Microsoft.MacDailyNews, January 2, 2007

Why are so many people so afraid to imagine an end to the dark ages of personal computing? Too many MSFT shares in the mutual fund? We have no such problem. Apple Mac will embrace, then extinguish – whether analysts grasp what’s happening or not.MacDailyNews, March 23, 2007

One device, Apple’s iPhone, is far more evolved than anything else on the market today. The IT dinos will be — gasp! — forced to accommodate the employees; a rarity, we know, but watch and see… The IT guys are in for a rude awakening and the iPhone is only the beginning. They will have to accommodate the iPhone. Too many important employees will demand it and IT won’t be able to stem the tide. The fact is that business people will decide which device they want to carry and their businesses will adapt to it. Just as they did with “Microsoft-incompatible” Research In Motion’s Blackberry. Apple’s iPhone will be a success with business users whether the IT guy wants it or even whether AT&T and Apple tailor marketing to businesses or not.MacDailyNews, June 19, 2007

Note to CEOs: Who runs the company, you or the IT guy? It’s your job to make the decisions and it’s the IT guy’s job to implement your decisions that relate to technology. Just as with Macs, you need to educate yourself instead of relying on someone with their own, possibly hidden, agendas to make extremely important technology decisions for your company. Most of you could be saving a LOT of money right now, but you aren’t because you’ve delegated an important part of your company’s decision-making to people who, frankly, in our experience, aren’t capable of making good, sound, strategic, long-term decisions. Most IT guys (and we know many) are not open-minded enough to be able to consider new, better, more efficient, more effective options that would benefit your company. In fact, most IT guys we’ve met will throw up road blocks and repeat myths until they’re blue in the face in order to avoid change. Especially change that might make their department less critical or smaller. Bottom line: most of you CEOs have given the IT guy way, way, way too much power. It’s time to take it back. — MacDailyNews, June 19, 2007

Now we know why IT support hates Macs (hint: Windows PCs = job security) – October 19, 2015
IBM: Corporate Mac users need less IT support than those stuck on Windows – October 18, 2015
Just 5% of Mac users at IBM need help desk support vs. 40% of Windows PC sufferers – October 15, 2015
Companies need to get ready for Apple iPhone onslaught – June 19, 2007


    1. Good Morning Vietnam!
      Hold on…..Good Morning Iraq!……No, wait……Good Morning Afganistan!…….No, wait…where are we now? Oh yeah, Good Morning Ukraine….No?……Syria?

  1. We have many macs deployed in our enterprise, of course our Windows machines far outnumber them but when given a choice a lot of people choose the mac.

    Can’t say that we have had a lot of problems with them, most of our issues have been around Active Directory and been easy to fix.

    We certainly hear from our windows users far more than our mac users.

    1. Do you have issues with saving files to Windows servers? In our environment we frequently get issues with file permissions and saving/moving/renaming files.

      We also have issues with our Macs literally just shutting down (kernel panic) when you try to access the server (saving/dragging/moving files.)

        1. Same here. I just make my macs connect to our mac servers using AFP. About 18 months ago we had a huge permissions issue with Office and Adobe programs saving to our mac servers. I gave up and turned permissions off on the mac server shared drives.

  2. We here had known this for over 20 years. And during those 20 years, there were many small or mid-sized businesses that created those feel-good stories about Windows-to-Mac migration and subsequent productivity increase and support cost decrease.

    However, when IBM deploys hundreds of THOUSANDS of Macs to their staff, then we aren’t talking about a 40-people law firm anymore. This isn’t just Outlook/Word/Excel/Powerpoint, generic, off-the-shelf tools user base. While large number of those at IBM are likely your average office drones looking at Excel or Word, there are certainly many custom apps and systems for ERP and CRM. This being IBM, many of those will likely be running on some RS-6000 UNIX back-end, and an X-window interface on the desktop (which is more-or-less platform-agnostic). The most important part is central management of deployment and security of all those Macx. This has most often been the biggest, most common argument of your ordinary MS IT doofuses — without the flexibility of AD, you can’t manage multi-Mac deployment (never was really true, but you simply couldn’t argue).

    It is going to be that much more difficult for any IT doofus to argue against mass deployment of Macs when IBM is not only successfully doing it, but also saving money in the process.

    Steve would have likely smiled reading this. Quite a change from their first shot at IBM, over 30 years ago:

    1. Windows won its foothold back in the ’80s via the IT doofus meme “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. The meme apparently still holds, except IBM finally changed horses. Yea, IBM.

  3. Towards the end of his talk, where he shows support satisfaction rates (above 90%) and percentage of users calling for help (5% Mac vs. 40% Windows), Previn says this is “…because the way we are deploying them, there are just fewer problems. And also the Mac itself, right?”, to which we hear not a peep from the audience. That phrase, “… and also the Mac itself, right?” tells us that IBM essentially takes for established truth that Mac itself simply needs no support, and all the people in the audience seem to find nothing unusual with that statement.

    We’ll have to see if this IBM project ripples through the enterprise sector, but the business case slide shows some powerful arguments:

    Workstation cost per user: upfront cost lower for PC, but residual value for Mac is higher;

    No pre-configured disk image needed thanks to software provisioning automation (major, major cost/effort item)

    Ratio of support staff to supported employees (the most significant argument): Gartner recommends 1:70. Industry average is 1:242. IBM’s Mac programme is 1:5400 (!!!)

    And the punchline: Incremental purchase price of a Mac pays for itself several times over its life in reduced support burden.

    Let us see how many CEOs are hearing this message from IBM.

  4. The math, according to IBM, is simple. For the cost of one Windows IT support doofus, you can support twenty times as many Mac users.

    If an average IT support doofus supports some 250 Windows office drones, an enterprise needs to migrate 250 users from Windows to Mac to completely neutralise the initial support cost. That way, you simply get rid of one PC support doofus and replace him with a Mac Genius. From that moment on, you can migrate another 5,000 Windows office drones over to Mac without having to hire any more Mac support staff. And for every 250 you migrate over, you can fire one PC support doofus (without hiring more Mac support, as it isn’t needed).

    I know many PC support doofuses. Many are really nice, bright, intelligent guys who found a lucrative field of work and support families with that work. I’d be sad so see them lose jobs, but if their employers are actual businesses (rather than charities), they will find it compelling to do what IBM did.

    1. “sad so see them lose jobs” Or maybe joyous to see them slip their shackles and be freed. Late-career path changes can be terrifying, but just might be liberating. They’re still nice, bright people.

      1. You may have a good point there. Intelligent people are usually able to successfully pivot at any point in their professional life (hell, even I successfully did that several times over the past 30+ working years).

        And if they shift to Mac support, they may find their work much less frustrating.

    1. Not really that much. I paid $1,300 for my first iMac (in 2002; before that, I had PowerMacs). Over the past 17 years, it barely came down by $200 (to $1,200 in 2007, then in 2013 to $1,100).

      There are very few options below $1,000 (Mac Mini, MacBook Air). Meanwhile, for desktop, practically all enterprise purchases are for well below $1,000. The price gap is still significant; for most people, it looks like 1:2. I don’t think price gap shrinkage has been a meaningful factor. While you may be right that it is a part of the changing equation, but I would argue that it is a rather small part, the bigger one being the burgeoning consumer market share that provides positive exposure and experience and eventually penetrates organically into the enterprise.

    2. The price gap in terms of realistic comparisons of similarly configured hardware was closed long ago, well before intel processors and even farther before SSDs as optional or standard Mac equipment.

      The switch to intel processors enabled native Windows/Windows app operation under Boot Camp as well as Windows emulation using Parallels/Fusion. That helped to speed adoption rates among Windows PC users and eliminated the PPC/intel performance debates. But it is not clear to me that intel processors directly led to significant reductions in Mac prices. Indirectly, through economy of scale based on penetration of the Windows PC market, you might be able to make an argument along those lines.

      When Apple began offering SSDs as an option in Macs, they were expensive. When Apple began incorporating SSDs as standard equipment to enable thinner laptop designs, the cost of Macs did not suddenly drop.

      I don’t really see either of these transitions – intel processors or SSDs – leading directly to reductions in Mac prices.

  5. My local community centre has been transitioning to Macs over the last year. We’ve now got funding to get some more machines—and we’re now planning to migrate the office systems to Macs as well.

    My life as the IT monkey just got a shitload easier 😀


  6. Just 5 percent of IBM’s Mac using employees need to call the help desk; In contrast an astonishing 40 percent of PC using staff call the help desk.

    Yeah. We’ve been pointing this out for DECADES. It’s great to watch IBM, of all companies, finally get it.

  7. I’m curious what their old deployment and management system was versus what they’re doing with Casper/Jamf now.

    Did they also shift to a more laissez faire attitude as part of the switch? Were they fully utilizing systems like SCCM/MDT or an alternative like Altiris? Is security the same? Are they still running permissions-based file shares? What directory service are they running? Are they using OSX exclusively or are the Macs pre-configured with Boot Camp or virtual machines to also run Windows?

    Are they replacing ALL end-user Windows machines with Macs or just most? Did they start with the paper pushers with no special software needs that would be easy to transition? If so do they expect the need for support services to increase as users with more complicated setups are given Macs?

    These are questions people much smarter people than I at IBM have no doubt already asked and answered so I’m curious their findings and expectations.

    We have a solid Windows-only setup where I’m primarily responsible for all 175 local and remote users, but i have worked in organizations with decent splits of the 2 platforms and had to support both. I will say that supporting Macs does require a different way of thinking if you’re coming from a Windows-only background. If you’re not familiar with terminal commands or have very little linux experience you’re going to be completely lost. Way more advanced fixes and settings require terminal versus Windows’ command prompt, which is often not needed, and the tools used to manage Windows PCs are often free outright (MDT, PDQ) or included (WDS, WSUS) if you already have MS servers and CALs (not cheap).

    Very curious to see their TCO, including management solutions and servers, versus doing a similar Microsoft-based refresh, and also if changes in philosophy of security or hardware and software management were made. Also curious if hard drive failures were a considerable support cost, since most businesses are just now starting to opt for SSDs in Windows-based laptops when they’ve been almost mandatory in MacBooks for 4 years (they have been upgrades in the traditional business laptop market for 5 years but businesses were often slow to adopt due to encryption and wiping concerns that may or may not have been valid).

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