Clayton Campbell | Director, Onsite Group

When it comes to attracting and retaining top talent in the enterprise, the landscape is more competitive than ever. With the highest global talent shortage in 10 years, it’s no wonder that the next major priority for organisations is creating the ultimate employee experience. The best place to start is with the devices employees use to do their jobs everyday.

‘Bring Your Own Device’ was considered a great solution: employees used their own devices, plugged into the company systems, and everyone wins. The workforce is happy with the devices and the company gets a boost in productivity. But this didn’t last, because the administration and security concerns around those devices could not be ignored. BYOD has been a disaster to many, but it would not benefit anyone to regress to the old way of doing things. So instead businesses are applying a new way of thinking: ‘Choose Your Own Device’. In CYOD, the company procures the devices, but the employees have a say in what they prefer to work with. “Traditional BYOD gave limited access to corporate infrastructure,” explains Clayton Campbell, Director of the Onsite Group. “Employees could connect to company networks over Wifi or the internet, but the company couldn’t really lock down those interactions because they didn’t own the device. The user had power over what they could and couldn’t do. With CYOD, the company owns the device and has full control to handle security and restrictions. But employees have the freedom to choose the device.” This is complemented by a parallel trend: the growing popularity of Apple devices in enterprises. Apple was once not so closely associated with the business world. Back in 2010, the late Steve Jobs complained about the enterprise market, saying it didn’t take user choice into account under the yoke of IT departments controlling all aspects of device allocation.

The rise of Apple in the enterprise

But much has changed. Smartphones led a revolution that switched gears, through BYOD and full circle – except user choice is now ingrained in the process. Apple has become a very sought-after brand by enterprise warriors. “It’s been a Microsoft environment because IT made the decision. But more users are pushing back. They want Apple devices. So corporations are looking to give users more choice and a lot are choosing Apple.” Research concurs: Good Technology’s Mobility Index Report declared that iPhones accounted for 72% of all enterprise smartphone activations during Q1 of 2017, a number that has grown since. Jamf, a device deployment and management platform that specialises in Apple products, claimed that 99% of large organisations now have iPhone and iPad presences and of organisations with choice programmes 72% of employees choose Mac and 28% choose PC. Yet managing these devices has its own challenges. Too many organisations are trying to shoehorn all of its device management into a single platform that tries to appease them all: Apple, Windows and Android. The results are lacking, to say the least, and as a result, many IT departments are not seeing the benefit of bringing non-Windows devices into play.

Users do it themselves

But this is an entirely different story when using a specialised management suite. Suites such as Jamf are creating authentic ‘unpacking’ experiences for workforces. A new MacBook can be taken fresh out of its wrapper, logged onto the company Wifi network, and a short enrollment process begins. Fifteen minutes later an employee is ready, secured and fitted with all the required apps and policies (and none of the unwanted stuff) – all without the intervention of IT personnel. IT departments used to focus on horizontal device segmentation – a laptop is a laptop, a phone is a phone, etc. – for the sake of easier management. Now modern specialised management suites let them open the gates and not be bound to just one track, says Campbell: “IT doesn’t need to commit to one ecosystem. We’re saying the users should be provided with a choice. Users can choose what they like – it’s the way we manage those devices that’s different. Employees can blend devices and only IT sees the difference.” The truth is that users are already getting their way. Numerous South African enterprises, especially among the supposedly-stoic banks, are investing in thousands of Apple devices for their employees. Resistance is futile. But IT doesn’t need to fight the tide. Enrollment and management become hands-off yet simple when deploying a specialised management suite that focuses on specific ecosystems. Lego, the manufacturer of those famous plastic toys, owns tens of thousands of Apple devices, all managed by one administrator. “The old horizontal way is the wrong way to do it. Look at it with an ecosystem perspective. Manage Apple with Apple, Android with Android, Windows with Windows. Then you can start unlocking tools to let users have an overall better experience while the business remains protected.” If your business is looking at deploying Apple devices in the enterprise or starting a user choice programme, we would love to talk to you. Visit www.onsitegroup.co.za/business for more information.