“We pursue that which retreats.”
It’s a key tenet of the slacker philosophy espoused by kindergarten teacher Dex in the 2000 indie movie, the Tao of Steve. He’s explaining how a loser like him can get laid, but his words are also a nice summation of Apple’s marketing strategy for the corporate world.
While companies like IBM and HP dutifully host CIO roundtables, install fests, and Sting concerts to drum up enthusiasm with enterprise IT types, Apple has pretty much given them the brush-off. Late last year, it dropped its one product aimed squarely at enterprise IT: the Xserve server.
This strategy of ignoring the enterprise has really paid off for Apple. Today, the Forrester research firm — which just three years ago was telling corporate IT to steer clear of those pesky Macs — published a report saying that companies that want to succeed need to go ahead and show the Mac a little love.
In the words of Forrester Senior Analyst David Johnson, it’s a bad idea for corporate IT to take a teetotaler attitude toward the Apple. “Those continuing to force prohibition risk being labeled as irrelevant at best and are holding back the competitive potential of the company’s employees,” he writes in his report.
Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt sees Forrester’s about-face as a Hell-freezing-over kind of moment, but in an interview, Johnson says that his company’s advice has changed because the enterprise has evolved. Today, corporate workers are often running clunky old Windows XP desktops, and they’re getting frustrated. And many of them are buying shiny new Macs and iPads and bringing them into work to get stuff done.
That desire to get things done is pretty much what drove MS-DOS and then Windows users to start sneaking PCs into the enterprise about 30 years ago, he adds. “When end users and employees are making technology choices and bringing things into the office, it signals a sea change in IT.”
While 22 percent of the 590 companies that Forrester surveyed say they were seeing a significant uptick in employee-owned Macs in the workplace, 41 percent of them said that Apple’s computers still weren’t allowed to access email or the corporate network. That’s shortsighted, Johnson says.
He believes that some of the most productive employees — “executives, top sales reps, and other workaholics” — are the ones who are being stonewalled here, and that’s just bad for business.
Cunningly, Apple did not respond to a request asking for tips on how to score with enterprise IT.