Information technology

Hell freezes over: Forrester urges IT to support the Mac

October 27, 2011: 8:00 AM ET

The voice of Windows in the enterprise discovers that Mac users are more productive

Click to enlarge.

That 41% of enterprises won't let Apple (AAPL) PCs anywhere near their computing services -- not even e-mail or the Internet -- should come as no surprise to the IT professionals who subscribe to Forrester Research's market research reports. After all, it reflects the advice that Forrester has been giving information technology departments for decades. Take, for example, this quote from a 2008 Forrester report on enterprise computing:

"IT departments crave standardization, and Macs pose too many problems for IT departments. The verdict for enterprise-focused vendors is clear: Unless your market is a niche business group, Windows is the only desktop you need support." (link)

Which makes the findings of the Forrester survey of 590 IT executives and decision makers that produced the chart above all the more surprising. "It's time to repeal prohibition and take decisive action," writes David Johnson in a new report made available to Fortune (and available for sale here). "Mac users are your HEROes and you should enable them not hinder them."

"HERO," it turns out, is a Forrester acronym for Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives -- "the 17% of information workers who use new technologies and find innovative ways to be more productive and serve customers more effectively."

Click to enlarge. Source: Forrester Research

"Most of the Macs today," writes Johnson, "are being freewheeled into the office by executives, top sales reps, and other workaholics. Forrester believes this is the same demographic that we're now calling the "power laptop user," and according to the latest Workforce Technology And Engagement Survey, power laptop users make 44% more money, use more collaboration apps, and carry an average of three devices wherever they go."

These power users are willing to pay for MacBook Pros out of their own pocket, according to Forrester, because their company-supplied Microsoft (MSFT) Windows PCs:

Are slowing them down. Time is the only thing that these fierce competitors can't make more of. Many of today's corporate PCs are saddled with management, backup, and security agents that can bog down a PC. Employees want their PCs to boot in 10 seconds, not 10 minutes, and they don't want to have to get a cup of coffee while opening a 20 MB spreadsheet in Excel. They're drawn to uncluttered Macs — especially those with solid-state drives, which are more responsive and boot in seconds.
Look cheaply made. Image and personal brand are the currency of influence, and first impressions matter. For the same reason they wouldn't wear cheap shoes and a bolo tie to meet with Lloyd's of London to insure their cargo ships and cranes, these power brokers don't want to show up to a meeting with a plastic laptop that sends the subliminal message that they aren't prosperous enough to afford something nicer.

The report goes on to offer six steps IT departments can take to "ease Macs into their enterprises" and three case studies of companies that have done so successfully.

"Stand in the way," Forrester concludes, "and you will eventually get run over."

It's quite a turnaround for the voice of Windows in the enterprise. If you're not a Forrester subscriber, you can buy the report for $499 here.

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