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Apple is becoming an increasingly major player in enterprise

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The sun has long since set on the days of enterprise users walking around with BlackBerry smartphones on their hips, but what is taking the place of those keyboard-clad handsets? According to a new report soon to be released by Apple-focused IT management app maker JAMF Software (publisher of Casper Suite), the number of businesses answering that question with "Apple" is larger than ever before.

The small-sample study polled 309 IT professionals about Apple device usage within their walls. Their findings show that Apple is making huge gains in enterprise adoption, with over 90% of businesses polled supporting one or more Apple devices for employees. A full 98% expect the use of Apple devices in their businesses to grow even more over the next three years. The data points to a huge spike in Apple enterprise usage, with use of devices like the iPhone and iPad more than doubling in the past three years.

The appeal of Apple's gadgets is a huge factor in this upswing, with 78% of respondents stating user preference was a factor in their company choosing to support Apple hardware. On the other side of the coin, the majority of IT professionals polled say that they're not very confident in the tools they have to manage Apple devices in their companies.

This is of course great news for JAMF, as the company is in the business of helping organizations adopt Apple devices for business use, but it also shows that the desire for shiny new Apple gadgets is outpacing many companies' ability to adapt to the changing tide. Other players in the cross-platform IT management space like Absolute, IBM Tivoli, Cisco Meraki, VMware's AirWatch and HP OpenView are also supporting the increased demand for Apple in the enterprise -- and Apple's MDM hooks are improving to make the job easier.

It's clear at this point that the iPhone and iPad aren't going anywhere, so Apple's growing role in enterprise doesn't seem to be at risk of being a flash in the pan. At the same time, companies looking to fit Apple devices into their systems run the risk of being unprepared for the venture, which isn't ideal for anyone involved.

The real takeaway here -- aside from Apple continuing to gain important traction with businesses -- is that a great end-user experience is dependent on IT experts having a handle on Apple's devices and management tools before their company springs for thousands of company-owned iPhones. It seems like a no brainer, but the numbers show that it's a problem yet to be adequately addressed by many businesses.

[Photo credit: Cristiano Betta]

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