Ask the Experts: How can I get to use a Mac at work?

Come up with a good enough reason

Come up with a good enough reason

Eager to use a Mac in the office? silicon.com's expert panel lets you know if it's possible.

Q: I want to use a Mac at work but it's not a standard option from our IT department. How can I convince them I should be allowed to use a Mac in the office?

Peter CochranePeter Cochrane, tech guru and silicon.com blogger:
The first point to understand is that IT departments tend to play it ultra-safe and often see new and different technologies as a big threat.

It is therefore unlikely they will help you and more likely they will dream up any number of excuses not to connect you. Among these will be: non-standard software posing a security threat; ditto non-standard or approved hardware; their inability to support Macs; infrastructure risks; company policy and so on.

So you basically have three choices: go with the flow and give up; go into battle and fight them; just do it and ask for forgiveness later!

I have always done the latter - and when they have played the 'no support card', I have pointed out that Mac users don't need much support.

If you take the 'go into battle' option, you need to find allies in the company - the higher up the better - and get them in on the agenda.

You can also search out all the giant corporations using Macs and offer these to your IT director as examples of how it can work. Or cite BP which encourages their people to buy their own kit and be support themselves.

If and when you crack this problem, tell everyone you know how to do it too!

Naked CIONaked CIO, IT leader and silicon.com columnist:
If work places have a standard, there are generally reasons for it. I myself am in favour of policies of this nature - mainly because supporting and maintaining standard equipment is more effective, efficient and less costly.

However, sometimes there is a strong viable business reason for having a Mac that will make a user's working environment more functional. If you believe that a Mac is justified in terms of what your function is, then put these reasons down on paper to justify why you believe, in this case, an exception to standard policy should be extended.

Make sure there is a viable business reason beyond simply preference, and your chances will probably be better. Also please understand the necessity for standards in any work environment and while they may appear to be draconian, remember they will likely improve the business as a whole.

Seb JanacekSeb Janacek, author of silicon.com column Minority Report:
If you want to convince the head of IT you should be given a Mac, you'll obviously need a compelling business-driven rationale. What will it be used for? What can it do that a Windows PC cannot?

If there isn't a genuine business need, there's no reason for even asking for one. That the head of marketing has a MacBook Air just doesn't cut it.

You might want to point out to the IT director how easy and cheap Macs are to support - they don't need to be constantly patched and monitored (though this info might go over less well with the helpdesk folks who may fear for their jobs).

You could make the head of IT feel slightly less anxious by pointing out that Macs can run Windows XP or even, heaven help you, Vista.

Do you have a question for our panel of experts? Send it to editorial@silicon.com. Or post a reader comment below.

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