Apple, disruptor of corporate IT departments

Forrester Research suggests that consumer-inspired technology from Apple, not cloud computing, will be one of the biggest forces disrupting IT departments in 2012.


biggest beneficiary of the "bring your own device" (BYOD) movement -- at least for now -- is clearly Apple. Interest in mobile applications and solutions that build on the iPad tablet computer has led more businesses to evaluate the company's Macintosh platform for other computing needs. The net effect, according to a new report from Forrester Research, is that the company made significant inroads into the corporate IT world in 2011 after years of minimal adoption.

In its report, "Global Tech Market Outlook for 2012 and 2013," Forrester predicts that Apple will account for $6 billion of the corporate PC market during 2011. Forrester includes personal desktop computers, notebook computers and tablet computers in its calculation. That is still just a tiny sliver of the overall $84 billion in purchases that were made last year. But Apple's share of the corporate market grew by a whopping 67 percent during the past 12 months, Forrester notes.

During 2012, Forrester believes that Apple will account for $9 billion in Macintosh and $10 billion in iPad sales; for 2013, the research firm anticipates $12 billion in Macintosh and $16 billion in iPads. During 2012 alone, the company's share of the corporate technology market should grow another 45 percent, Forrester predicts.

It is important to note that Apple doesn't break out sales into the commercial market, so these are predictions. They are based on what Forrester is seeing in the marketplace. There is a certain amount of peer pressure to consider Apple that is a fallout effect by the decision of some companies to let employees select their own mobile computing devices. Often, that means people are bringing Apple iPhones into their organizations, but increasingly executives and teams are using iPads and MacBook computers for mobile computing purposes.

Apple's cachet with the small-business world also is rising as a richer set of applications become available for point of sale and back-office tasks.

I am sure growing adoption of certain cloud-delivered business applications for customer relationship management, human resources and other operational functions has also had an impact, as had the availability of desktop virtualization infrastructure that allows people to run certain Windows applications on Macintosh or iPad systems. The old excuse that key business applications are only available on the Windows operating system just doesn't hold true across the board anymore.

To be fair, it doesn't look like Forrester extrapolates the BYOD effect for Windows systems and other tablets that are working their way into the corporate IT departments via someone's personal cubicle and not via the procurement department. It would be interesting to look at the Android effect, in particular.

That doesn't really matter though. What does matter is the following, especially if your company is thinking about allowing employees to bring their own computing technology to work:

  • Your company needs to invest in the technical skills to support Macintosh and the Apple iOS platform or it needs to engage an IT services organization that has those skills.
  • Your team will need to invest in new application development skills, especially on the mobile side, in order to make the best use of this software. Otherwise, your company won't get the most out of its Apple technology investments.
  • Your organization will probably need to buy desktop virtualization or client virtualization software. That software might be necessary for employees to run certain legacy applications that will not run on the Macintosh or Apple iOS operating systems. It also will be important for security and to put in place access control measures that might be important for compliance procedures.
  • You will need to establish a wireless services management policy. One thing Apple technologies do really well is connect to wireless networks, which means it is easier to use them on an ad hoc basis out on the road. That could mean mushrooming wireless access expenses, if your organization doesn't look at ways to manage access.

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