What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

Summary: The iPhone is making significant progress in the enterprise, but this doesn't mean that Apple is actively courting businesses. Hear why, from the mouth of Steve Jobs.

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On Monday I published my review of the Apple iPhone 4 from an enterprise perspective, and noted that 40% of iPhone sales are now made to businesses and that some prominent Fortune 500 companies such as UBS are getting serious about the iPhone.

So does that mean Apple is finally starting to warm up to the enterprise, after years of neglect and even disdain for the enterprise market? There are conflicting signals from Apple on this subject, including mixed messages from Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself.

On the one hand, Jobs made a point of emphasizing the iPhone 4's enhanced enterprise capabilities during his keynote presentation on the iPhone 4 at WWDC 2010 (photo below). Also, Apple now has a small sales force dedicated entirely to enterprise customers, especially those who want deploy the iPhone.

On the other hand, we have the words of Jobs in his recent interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher of The Wall Street Journal (photo below). Jobs said:

"What I love about the consumer market, that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves. They go 'yes' or 'no,' and if enough of them say 'yes,' we get to come to work tomorrow. That's how it works. It's really simple. With the enterprise market, it's not so simple. The people that use the products don't decide for themselves, and the people that make those decisions sometimes are confused. We love just trying to make the best products in the world for people and having them tell us by how they vote with their wallets whether we're on track or not."

Judging by that statement, I doubt we'll see Apple cozying up to the enterprise very much in the near future and IT leaders should be very clear about that. Apple is likely to throw a few bones to the enterprise to make the iPhone palatable to the powers that be in the corporate IT world. However, do not expect Apple to do what RIM has done over the past decade, which is to cultivate its product (BlackBerry) to the wants and needs of CIOs.

Still, according to Forrester, 29% of corporate IT department now support the iPhone in 2010, up from 17% in 2009. That's nowhere near the 70% that support BlackBerry, but the iPhone is clearly generating significant momentum in businesses.

This momentum is often driven from the top-down by executives. The other driving factor is the consumerization of IT, in which many workers are bringing their own technologies into the workplace -- including laptops, smartphones, and Web apps. This is the wave that Apple is riding, and Jobs appears to be making a bet that it will continue in the future, so he is staking Apple's enterprise play on individual consumers driving demand for Apple products and IT departments reacting to it. Apple simply wants to take away the security and manageability obstacles that keep IT from saying, "No." In other words, don't look for Apple to start aggressively courting the enterprise any time soon.

For instant analysis of tech news, follow my Twitter feed: @jasonhiner

Take the poll

Steve Jobs' characterization of the enterprise and its buying decisions ("the people that make those decisions sometimes are confused") may have been a little harsh, but is it unfair? Answer the poll and then jump into the discussion.

[poll id="131"]

Topics: iPhone, Apple, CXO, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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91 comments
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  • Reality

    I love the stats that get thrown around. 40% of what? Is that a company with one iPhone or a major deployment? are they evaluating it or actually supporting it? Are these personal liable or corporate liable? If you dig a little into this you'll find not many places support iPhone (or anything else) and Blackberry is the standard for the reasons that have stood for a long time now:

    - Gold standard for security and device management
    - Carrier choice
    - FIPS certified, several states now have regulations around device encryption / data protection. And no iPhone encryption is anything but secure.

    Apple needs to start working with IT so less issues supporting their products bite companies in the arse. iPhone 4 ActiveSync seems to be spotty with Exchane 2010, how can they not test and validate this??!?? What company would have their senior executive staff on a device that *might* work? Knock Blackberry but for email they just work. BES once configured is rock solid and you can actually put a SLA around email delivery. Now Apple gets a somewhat pass as everyone in IT knows Exchange ActiveSync is crap and a poor mans mobile email. But hey it's free so I guess you can accept if it works or not.

    Apple's days of "We don't share roadmaps" need to end. If your going to put an iProduct in the hands of people that run your company you need some assurances the products actually function and don't have busted screens, flacky wireless radio reception etc, working email connectivity etc. Apple doesn't even have release notes until AFTER the product ships. Who else does that in enterprise IT?
    MobileAdmin
    • I think this just proves Jobs' point

      Petty technology gatekeepers who are only interested in what makes the job easy for them, not in giving their users what they want. I expect the reply where you tell me the users are too stupid to know what's best for them is forthcoming.
      RationalGuy
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @RationalGuy Technology gatekeepers always give the users what they want. The number one thing on that list? SECURITY. Data loss, hacking, downtime....in the enterprise these things are simply unacceptable non-starters. Therefore, no matter the other features the users want...most of them understand that those things have to come first and if they aren't present the other things they may want.. (ie.. Apple's latest cool new gadget...) will simply not be available to them. Steve Jobs is off base that the people don't decide for themselves inside a company. They decide to come to work there everyday, they do this because they are ok with the management of that organization, and they trust the people in the IT department to not only give them what they need and want to do their jobs but they also ask IT to keep them out of trouble.

        So, please quit calling them petty... it is beneath you..
        condelirios
      • You nailed it

        the response was precisely what you predicted it would be. The IT types telling users what is number one on their list. He thinks it's security. It isn't. It's usability.
        frgough
      • "Security" is the great IT smokescreen

        So many poor decisions are made under the guise of "security". But a cursory glance at the way enterprise networks are designed tells you they don't care at all about security, only about what is easy to maintain via transactional support calls.

        The two most basic common sense security measures, 1) putting a firewall between workstations and servers on the LAN and 2) preventing all communications between hosts on the access tier, are almost never done anywhere.

        Why is that?

        Because LANs evolved overtime from older paradigms and have become entrenched from a time where you trusted everything behind the firewall, and mistrusted everything in front of it. The network design itself is legacy, because these days, basic security common sense tells you not to trust anything.

        But, that is difficult to do. This would require time and effort to re-engineer the infrastructure, and require application support and infrastructure engineers to *gasp* actually talk to each other to ensure that the correct ports are open to allow communications through the firewall.

        So, the IT folks shout, "Security! Security!" and then build insecure networks, remove password restrictions from their own accounts, give administrative privileges to the same accounts that they access their e-mail and surf the web with, etc. etc. etc.
        RationalGuy
      • Proved it right back

        @RationalGuy:

        Having a high level of security certainly doesn't make IT's job easier.

        Having a sales person lose a phone with sensitive pricing discussions in a conference room, and then getting upset because Security can't remote wipe it, IS a requirement.

        Why can't you believe that IT really may be foresighted enough to anticipate the needs of the users, more than they can, and with their input? Isn't that their job?

        I think it's more than a little the other way too - users say "I want, I want" without being able to articulate what they want.

        Both sides need to work together and drop the 'it's them' attitude.

        == John ==
        jgwinner
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @frgough +1

        Usability trumps security 100% of the time. End users generally don't care one whit about security. That's why you will consistently find passwords on post it notes stuck on monitors and keyboards. And those passwords are 9 times out of 10 a child or grandchild's name followed by a number (representing the number of times they've had to change the password). If users cared about security their passwords would be something like: 3kdkj4JKo:"da
        But not a single user (and I daresay only about 1% of IT admins) would use such a password.
        No, Security is the concern of the C[I|T]O and a handful of IT security people. Everybody else (including IT) is more concerned about ease of use.
        hawks5999
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @RationalGuy <br><br>It's not only Perimeter Security, it's large-scale manageability. Ie: having to maintain and service hundreds of devices in the hands of people who in the best of cases act like spoiled kids to whom Security is a buzzword and who think Infrastructure is free and comes out of cereal box.<br>I'm not going to defend Corporate IT, being an Implementer, I have been burned way too many times by bad technical and managerial positions, however that DOES NOT change the fact that Apple is not interested in Corporate IT. No matter what Jobs says, Apple's products are aimed usually at end-users and they're doing pretty well there. Apple simply doesn't need to deal with the requirements of Corporate IT.<br><br>Finally, if IT is some sort of "Technology GateKeeper" for an enterprise, it's ONLY because Upper Management likes it that way. After all they usually hide behind IT when users complain about Internet Access restrictions, workstation policies and the like.
        Imprecator
      • Exactly!

        I worked in large corporation IT departments through the 90s. If CIO were so smart why did they not support OS2 instead of staying with Windows? I remember one meeting where we presented the results of a pilot program that showed it saved 20% of the labor involved. The one concern was "What are we going to do with the extra people?". When a manager's salary is proportional to the size of the staff he manages ... more is better.
        john_gillespie@...
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @jgwinner<br><br><i>Having a high level of security certainly doesn't make IT's job easier.</i><br><br>Which is why they don't actually implement security. This is my whole point. They avoid doing real security while throwing out "Security!" as a reason not to do something they don't want to do.<br><br><i>Having a sales person lose a phone with sensitive pricing discussions in a conference room, and then getting upset because Security can't remote wipe it, IS a requirement.</i><br><br>Look it's simple. Security is a process, not a technology. So your "how does the company handle a lost phone" protocol is going to be different with the iPhone than with say a Blackberry. You put your security plan in place, train everybody on it and you go forward.<br><br>Does BB have better security features than iPhone? Of course. But you can still have data loss if you're using BB. And you can still implement a successful security plan with iPhone. I've seen it done, so that's not really up for debate.<br><br>What really happens is that some IT guy with a bug up his a$$ about Apple or whatever says, "No iPhones!" or "I will not allow iTunes on my network!" or whatever. This person just hates Apple, so says "no" first and then finds reasons that sound plausible for keeping them out of the company.<br><br>The real reason this person hates Apple products is because in addition to working really well, they are simple to use (which removes his role of High Lord Keeper of the Technology), they are stylish (and he is not) and they are slightly more expensive than other products. Somewhere in his past, this person wanted an expensive, stylish thing. Maybe it was a bicycle, or a cool pair of sneakers or a great car. But this person was told (maybe by a parent or spouse) that thing was too expensive and they would not be getting it. The real message the person heard was, "You are not worth spending money on. You do not deserve this." So, the person must build up artificial reasons why <i>the thing they want so badly</i> is somehow not worthy of <b>them</b>!<br><br>They call people who like Apple products iTards, lemmings and sheep who are attracted to "shiny toys" and stupid fools who are duped by marketing. Meanwhile, they go through life never quite getting what they want and being bitter at people who enjoy nice things.<br><br><i>Why can't you believe that IT really may be foresighted enough to anticipate the needs of the users, more than they can, and with their input? Isn't that their job?</i><br><br>Because I've worked in IT for a really long time, for lots of companies and I know how it actually works. IT rarely gives a crap what the users want or need. They want what's easiest for them, not what's best for the user (or the business).<br><br><i>I think it's more than a little the other way too - users say "I want, I want" without being able to articulate what they want.</i><br><br>For sure. But that's a whole "two wrongs don't make a right" thing.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @RationalGuy I'll take that bait. Most corporate users are too "uneducated" to know what's best for their corporate environments. Plus, allowing users to choose whatever they want places an unnecessary strain on an already overworked and understaffed IT team.

        In the dot com heyday, I had 21 IT "runners" keeping things on track at a company of around 450 people. My replacement at that company now has 5 team members after cutbacks and even the expected issues are causing a lot of discomfort in the ranks. Imagine if those 5 souls had to deal with more than one mobile platform or more than one server vendor.
        Timpraetor
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @Imprecator

        <i> ... that DOES NOT change the fact that Apple is not interested in Corporate IT. No matter what Jobs says, Apple's products are aimed usually at end-users and they're doing pretty well there. Apple simply doesn't need to deal with the requirements of Corporate IT.</i>

        What he is saying is that when he puts his technology in the hands of the people who are going to use it, they want it. When he has to go through a third party Technology Guardian, that often has an agenda that doesn't align with the needs of the person using the technology, the IT concerns win out -- to the detriment of the user and the business.

        <i>Finally, if IT is some sort of "Technology GateKeeper" for an enterprise, it's ONLY because Upper Management likes it that way. After all they usually hide behind IT when users complain about Internet Access restrictions, workstation policies and the like.</i>

        IT CREATES THE RESTRICTIONS AND THE POLICIES!

        And yes upper management likes to wash their hands of IT, because they don't understand it. The CIO can't communicate properly and IT management often lies (or distorts/omits certain truths) when they report to the CIO anyway. It's all a big game of "Let's Not Get Fired!"
        RationalGuy
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @Timpraetor<br><br>Essentially, what you're saying is that people don't know how to make their wishes easier for IT to fulfill. Imagine if accounting took the same position. "Look, we know you like to get paid every two weeks. But, we only have a few people on staff here. And there's a huge risk of people losing checks if we print so many. So, in the interest of efficiency and security, we're only going to pay everyone once per year. That'll start today, so you can expect your paycheck a year from now." Then, when people complain, you can tell them how "uneducated" they are about accounting.<br><br><i>Imagine if those 5 souls had to deal with more than one mobile platform or more than one server vendor.</i><br><br>For a staff of 5 supporting 450 users, you need 5 rock stars. For example, the desktop person should <i>at least</i> know Windows 2000 (if not NT 4.0) through Windows 7, one flavor of Linux (preferably more), and OS X <b>inside and out</b> -- even if the company doesn't use them now.<br><br>I've seen it all ... programmers who can't map a printer, Windows and UNIX server admins who have no idea how DNS works, storage guys who don't understand file permissions on CIFS shares that they create, Windows desktop people who don't even understand UNIX-style file permissions, let alone how to do anything even mildly technical on a UNIX or Linux machine (like say find the machine's IP address) ...<br><br>That's just pathetic, especially in this buyer's market.<br><br>The best IT people know way more than what their present job requires of them. Any Active Directory admin worth his salt should be able to sit in on a whiteboarding session with an infrastructure engineer and intelligently contribute to <i>design infrastructure having nothing to do with AD</i>, because he understands TCP/IP concepts, routing, VLANs, layer-2 and layer-3 switching, etc. really well.
        RationalGuy
      • you expect the reply "users are too stupid to know what's best"?

        @RationalGuy

        Well, apparently, there are alot of users that don't even know how to hold their phone the right way, but they know better about security and device management than the people whose job it is to worry about such matters.

        MobileAdmin didn't say anything about users being too stupid...Steve Jobs did.
        SonofaSailor
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @RationalGuy

        Not sure what yo umean by "petty technology gatekeepers" but from where I sit I can tell you I often spend in one week 16 or more hours repairing systems that had unsupported software installed.

        Why was this software installed?

        Becuase the guy in the corner office (CEO if you don't know who I am refering to) always agrees with your assensment that IT is nothing but a bunch of petty technology gatekeepers and he insists that everyone be a local admin, and if they want an iPhone, go for it. You want to bring in your Mac Mini even though we are a Windows ship - go for it.

        Point is, we end up supporting these devices, products and in the end it costs the company a ton in lost productivity, real data loss, and this is not to mention the fact that employees are spending time playing with iTunes and so on instead of .... ready.... working!

        Yes, as a petty technology gatekeeper I have spent many hours supporting users and their personal interests instead of forging ahead with new Sharepoint services, server upgrades, backup and log report reviews, installing and upgrading apps, connecting new workstations and managing other aspects of the network, troubleshooping WiFi issues, and so on.

        The users who have all the petty technology gateway limitations removed can then feel free to install what they want, how they want, when they want and the price that is paid is by the entire organization.
        Webbywarehouse
      • The great invented "controversy"

        @SonofaSailor

        <i>Well, apparently, there are alot of users that don't even know how to hold their phone the right way, but they know better about security and device management than the people whose job it is to worry about such matters.</i>

        Really? You're opinion is reduced to appealing to a non-story that affects practically nobody, that is only reproduced by people watching the informative "how-to" videos done by tech bloggers? Did you happen to notice that the only people really complaining about this are fat-handed Android nerds who don't actually own an iPhone 4?

        Everyone else has figure out that they shouldn't cover up the little black strip, and then moved on with their lives.

        So, who is stupid?
        RationalGuy
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @Webbywarehouse

        <i>I often spend in one week 16 or more hours repairing systems that had unsupported software installed.</i>

        OK, if you're spending 40% of your time troubleshooting, you're doing something wrong.

        Here, I'll change your life (I'm assuming Windows):

        - Create a workstation image with C: for system and D: for user data
        - Set user directories (and other important software folder defaults, e.g, Outlook PST/OST location) to folders on D: through GPO
        - Create an IT policy that user's data should only ever be saved on D:

        When you get a system back with software trouble, DO NOT TROUBLESHOOT. Here's your process:
        - Re-image C:
        - Hand the machine back to the user
        - Supported non-standard software is pushed out through SMS

        The onus is on the user to:
        1.) Maintain their data
        2.) Maintain their non-standard software

        <b>Most important point:</b>
        When the CEO complains that you should back up all data, and that you should re-install all non-standard apps, <b>you say no</b>.

        But you don't just say no. You say that you are supporting all the business' initiatives, you're not restricting any user activity, but they have to meet you halfway and take responsibility for their own stuff. If the CEO keeps pressing, remind him that you're currently wasting 40% of your time and that this new way will keep <i>everyone</i> working. Whatever you do, never agree to support the unsupported stuff.

        <i>You want to bring in your Mac Mini even though we are a Windows ship - go for it.</i>

        The only company that should be a "Windows shop" is Microsoft. Every other company should be prepared to support a little of everything.

        <i>not to mention the fact that employees are spending time playing with iTunes</i>

        This is absolutely not a technology problem and you shouldn't even give it a second thought. This is a management issue.

        <i>I have spent many hours supporting users and their personal interests instead of forging ahead</i>

        This is a time-management and prioritization issue that you have to work out with your management. Sounds like you don't have efficient processes. Here's a rule of thumb -- everything that can be automated should be automated.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @RationalGuy It is abundantly clear you are a user, not an IT professional.

        "Here, I'll change your life"

        You'd change an IT professional's life all right, by putting him on the unemployment line.

        If all user data is on a second local partition or drive, critical data is at risk. Most IT will provide a small space on the network for personal data, a large amount of space (file shares, sharepoint, etc) on the network for business use, and provide some method of backing up the user profiles on a regular basis.

        Your plan puts the individual and the company at great risk, ignores that the user profile is far more valuable and time consuming to recreate than the standard image can mitigate, and would ultimately put the administrator of this disaster out of work.

        "When you get a system back with software trouble, DO NOT TROUBLESHOOT."

        And if the software trouble is the reason the system is down and the software in question is the user's "self-supported" app, the cycle repeats, the user returns the machine (for the second, etc time), has lost days of productivity and blames the IT department for their troubles.

        "When the CEO complains that you should back up all data, and that you should re-install all non-standard apps, you say no."

        And when the rest of the IT world disagrees with you, the CEO fires your hump and replaces you with someone who knows what they're talking about.

        "Every other company should be prepared to support a little of everything."

        Most companies spend their resources doing their business, not supporting any whim a clueless user requests. I'd love to be paid semi-monthly rather than bi-weekly, should the company be prepared to support that? How about weekly, daily, monthly, quarterly or yearly?

        "This is absolutely not a technology problem and you shouldn't even give it a second thought. This is a management issue."

        And when management says to their IT department "no more iTunes!" they are supposed to disagree and refuse in your world, correct?

        "Here's a rule of thumb -- everything that can be automated should be automated. "

        Here's another, everything that can be standardized should be standardized. You're not living in the real world if you disagree with this basic tenet of the enterprise.

        I'm guessing you've never worked in one, as a user or an administrator.
        rtk
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @RationalGuy <br><br></i> <i>Really? You're opinion is reduced to appealing to a non-story that affects practically nobody, that is only reproduced by people watching the informative "how-to" videos done by tech bloggers? Did you happen to notice that the only people really complaining about this are fat-handed Android nerds who don't actually own an iPhone 4?<br><br>Everyone else has figure out that they shouldn't cover up the little black strip, and then moved on with their lives.</i><br><br>Ok, so which is it? is the antenna problem a "non-story that affects practically nobody", or is it something that "Everyone else has figure out that they shouldn't cover up the little black strip"...either it affects "practically nobody" or "Everyone". (btw, is it really a "little black strip"? or the metallic antenna surrounding the device? oh, you already covered yours with black electrical tape, I see.) Don't contradict yourself, there's enough of you Mactards doing that already.<br><br>But, more to your point...those users that have to have something go wrong before they realize "oh, i can't hold my phone like that". With security it becomes a bit more complex, there's alot more things that can go wrong, and alot more ways that they can go wrong, and the implications are far worse than just a dropped call. <br><br><i>So, who is stupid? </i><br><br>Apparently you are. Here's a hint...don't believe everything Apple tells you.
        SonofaSailor
      • RE: What Steve Jobs hates about the enterprise

        @RationalGuy

        You took great pains to write a very simple to follow, very clear, very straight forward plan of action for dealing with all problems in an IT department.

        You have been successful only at demonstrating how you are exceedingly, incredibly, and sadly ignorant as to what occurs in an enterprise environment.

        Best wishes to you.
        Webbywarehouse