iOS Management Challenges Enterprises

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — June 10, 2014

According to CEO, Tim Cook, “The iPhone is used in 97% of the Fortune 500, and 91% of the Global 500, and iPad is used in 98% of the Fortune 500 and 93% of the Global 500.” A study from Dimensional Research on behalf of JAMF Software found that 90% of businesses overall support Apple devices, but that does not mean IT is happy about it.
 
Majority Rules
Of the 90% of business surveyed in the research, 91% “officially support” iPhones as “business devices,” and 89% support iPads. The majority (60%) of respondents manage more than 100 devices; 2 out of 10 support more than 1,000; and 6% manage 5,000+ devices. The number of Apple devices has more than doubled since 2011 in the majority of companies as well, a trend that IT expects to continue.
 
When asked why IT was supporting Apple devices, the response was overwhelmingly dominated by user preference. This is contrary to what the market would logically dictate since Android has bigger overall share than Apple. How can this be?
 
“In the broad consumer market, there is a larger share of Android devices, primarily phones. Our survey targeted business users, where we see a clear preference for Apple devices. Apple's App Store is far ahead of Google Play when it comes to business productivity apps, and the benefits of the Apple ecosystem shine through. Looking beyond phones, the iPad is well ahead of comparable Android tablets,” according to Tad Johnson, commercial marking manager at JAMF Software.
 
Challenging Apple
What has also lent iOS to business is the supposedly stronger security play. Android apps, for example have been cited as the riskiest. With iOS, however, it might be a false sense of security and managing Apple devices comes with challenges.
 
In fact, the study revealed that 50% cited both enterprise readiness and cost as the top issues for IT. And the list keeps going: 44% believe there are inadequate tools to manage software use and a lack of support for key business applications. A mere 6% said there were not challenges. Only 20% of IT professionals are very confident in their current Apple device management solution.
 
These outlooks come despite the fact that, in March, Apple launched  new Volume Purchasing and Device Enrollment Programs to automate the MDM process. It also upgraded enterprise-class security in iOS 7.1 and subsequently made enhancements in iOS 8.
 
The report stated, “IT professionals ranked Apple device support challenges closely with each other, indicating that Apple devices are not easily managed, contrary to popular perception. While Apple has become prevalent in the enterprise, it is adding workload and additional challenges to the IT team.”
 
Part of that workload is the need to self-educate, which most said they face, or get formal training. Only 20% indicated more staff will be hired, and one-quarter of companies don’t even have a plan to deal with growing number of Apple end-user devices.
 
As dissatisfaction mounts, is there any chance IT will try and force other options on employees at some point? That’s doubtful. Johnson said, “We are seeing a new era in the relationship between users, technology, and IT. Users are really driving the conversation and choosing the tools and technologies they want to use. End users want to use Apple at work and IT is dealing with it. The BYOD movement reflects this as well--users want choice and IT is willing to support them. As with any significant shift in technology, this is a work in progress.”

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