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Everyday I talk to companies that are starting down a path, away from the old Windows centric paradigm, to do something "different".  Sometimes that is a fringe purchase of a new Mac here or there (see the CEO with a Macbook Air); sometimes it is a commitment to use iWork or "Open Office" instead of of MSFT Office; sometimes this is wholesale "switching".  My favorite is the company that makes the decision to go all Macs, and then says "OK, now, what kind of software runs on these things?" 

For me, here, the Enterprise is business.  Companies large and small.  I am facinated by and interested in the use of Apple products in any kind of business.

How Apple products are are faring in the Enterprise is a great topic of discussion. I am watching companies providing solutions (I work for one), and observing how Apple talks to the Enterpise.

Entries in Apple (6)


iPads Hot in Business Says Brian Blair (of Wedge Partners)

There are many who get great encouragement from any Apple movement in business.   I try to pay attention to any sign which could indicate a strategy.  Apple however, continues to prove that if they go after the end user, the end user will drag their Apple devices into work.  The Apple the "Enteprise Strategy" seems to work.  

However, when financial analysts like Brian Blair of Wedge Partners points to real financial results from Apple in the Enteprise, it's worth noting.  In a recent interview Brian notes that robust iPad sales is partly attributable to more iPads in use, in business.  Not surprisingly, iPads are taking the place of Netbooks and even Laptops.

I like that momentum.


Consumers: Apple's gateway to the Enterprise

It just takes a quick stroll through any major airport in the US to see the progress that Apple has made in the last decade.  More and more the business travelers you see are carrying Apple laptops and using iPhones.  This is long technology journey that has brought the business traveler to this point.

Back in the 70s and 80s, people usually encountered computer technology at work rather than at home. You had a text-based terminal connected to some corporate mainframe, which you probably never saw. As a result, workers were introduced to computers as something they couldn't and wouldn't have wanted to use at home.

This all changed in the 90s, when Windows PCs started replacing lackluster terminals. The design of the PC, with its local storage and personalization features like desktop wallpaper and themes, made technology at work much more personal. Workers started to become more interested in using their computers, and even thought about having them at home. When it came to buying, people went looking for computers like the ones they were used to. This is known as Microsoft's halo effect: MS Windows was the software everyone already knew.

At that time, Apple had strategy issues--meaning, Steve issues--and it was not chasing the Enterprise the way Microsoft was. Avid Apple users watched Microsoft's achievements in business, and the carryover to the home market. We noticed each time a friend bought a new computer, it was almost always a Windows computer. It wasn’t that these users necessarily enjoyed the Windows experience, it was that they knew it. It was familiar. Accessible.

The first real dent in the Microsoft halo came in October of 2001, when Apple unveiled the iPod, and a different strategy. Apple was going to attack the market from the other direction, creating a demand for their products by going directly at the consumer. The iPod, of course, was a runaway hit, without any hard technology innovation. The iPod simply took some pervasive technology (in the form of a portable disk drive), and wrapped it in a stylish and efficient user interface. All it took was a minute with a friend’s iPod once to sway you to get your own.

Suddenly, iPods and ads for iPods were everywhere. Consumers everywhere immediately appreciated the shiny hybrid of style and technology.  It was the first step towards cementing users to the Apple brand. Next came the iTunes software that can only be described as sheer brilliance. iTunes found a way to make our computers even more personal, putting my entire collection of music in one place.  Suddenly millions of us had Apple Technology with us at all times. Both Mac and Windows users had Apple hardware and software in the form of the iPod and iTunes. This set the stage for the Apple Experience.

Then came the iPhone, which was not just a phone, not just a music player, but a full-blown handheld computing device. iPhone users could decide what they wanted out of technology because they had it all in their hands, all the time. By 2008, when the iPod and iPhone users were tallied, millions were using Apple Technology, and the user base was blooming. Computer usage reports on college students are conclusive; they are devoted Mac users.  You know they expect the very same in in the workplace once they graduate. Employers are now finding they need to add Macs to the workplace to meet the personal and technological demands of their employees.

It's a repeat of what happened when the first wave of PCs hit the enterprise, replacing dumb terminals. Who would want to work for a company why that made you sit in front of a green screen? Today the incoming workforce, addicted to their iPhones, is biased toward Apple technology. And the effect is spreading: the last Apple results pointed out that 50% of the people buying Macs in the last quarter (and there were 3.5M of them) were buying Macs for the first time! Still!

My company sells an enterprise software application that runs natively on the Mac. Five years ago, our prospective customers were a small group of Mac faithful.  Sometimes it was only the CEO who used a Mac while wanting to find a Mac solution. Limited in choices, they had to settle for something on Windows to run his/her business.

These days, however, we are approached by more and more companies that have switched entirely to the Mac. CIO’s no longer have the luxury of doing the Windows thing and knowing that the users will get in line.  The end user is pushing their consumer-based technology preferences at work. ‘Why can’t I use a Mac here at work?’ ‘Why can’t I use my iPhone to check my email and check in?’

Companies of all sizes must now be able to answer such questions. Employers must take the necessary steps and adjust in order to make the workplace work for their employees. The best always have. Today a VERY real company benefit is when a progressive, forward thinking company uses Apple Technology in the workplace. Don’t you want to work there?


Apple Business Expo - the road show

If you follow technology at all, every day you hear about Apple's undeniable impact in the consumer market.  Their impressive consumer run started with the first iPod back in 2001.  The iPhone has been a continued, evolving success since 2007, and the iPad is all set up to be "THE" gift for this years' holiday season.  The Halo effect alone is also pushing the Mac to the top of everyone's Home PC and laptop list.  Apple is clearly rocking in the consumer space, but what about the Enterprise?  What about business?

Every day at my company, xTuple, I feel like we are on the front lines of Apple in business.  We talk to companies every day that are looking for real Enterprise applications on the Mac.  Every day they are frustrated that that there aren't more business solutions for them on the Mac.  They always ask the same question: why isn't anyone speaking to the Mac business user???

Last week I went to a trade show/expo that was doing just that - speaking to Business users.

The Loop Business Expo is a traveling Apple-focused business trade show that is moving from city to city around the US, targeting the Apple business user.  These shows are designed for, and are specifically catering to, business users of Apple technology.  xTuple partner Mark Robbins of Mainmast Systems and I participated in their Miami show last week.  We see business users every day in our community, but we don't always hear so much about them outside of our world.  As the designated Apple fanboy at xTuple, I was happy to see a great turnout at this show, despite the monsoon conditions that blew in from the warm tropical waters.

The show had vendors participating from all corners of the enterprise, including hardware vendors with products such as enterprise storage, scanning and document management.  There were enterprise software vendors including transportation management software, and yes, even other ERP solution providers.  From talking to attendees, I know this was a real treat for the Apple business user.  That user will certainly get good attention at the local Apple Retail Store, but she's typically waiting behind three other guys buying new iStuff.

It was a diverse group of users that attended the show as well.  We met Apple devotees using Macs in doctor's practices, consulting companies, insurance offices, media firms, and of course manufacturers, distributors and retailers.  It looked to me like a reflection of our economy at large.  Some of these businesses were all Mac, or moving fast in that direction.  Others were a mix of Mac and Windows, and wondering if they could really co-exist in both worlds (to which we have an easy answer!)  They were using the iPhones in the business, and pushing hard for business adoption of iPads.

Based on the success of the first show, we have signed up for the next one, in Orlando in December.  We are looking forward to another exciting show there, and then it's on to Macworld in January!  If you are in the Orlando area, please stop by and see us at that the Orlando Hilton Conference Center on December 8th.


Apple Business Expo in Miami - YES

Here it is, my kind of business conference.  Last week I learned of a specific business expo for Mac customers, and signed up to participate - right away.  Later this month, Loop USA and several Apple Retails Stores are getting together for show targeting small businesses in Southern Florida that use or want to use Apple technology in their business.  Loop has done similar conferences in other parts of Florida, and has seen terriric turn out.  It's great to hear (but not surprising) that in these times of shrinking and cancelling conferences and trade shows, one particular show is doing well - one that focuses on Apple Technology in the Enterprise.

The Apple Business Expo will have have a day of educational sessions, and and open expo floor full of hardware manufacturers and software developers presenting their products and showing their wares.  For many business users of Apple technology, there are limited avenues for seeking out products to help run their business leveraging Macs and other Apple technology.  These business users are typically limited to visiting the Apple Store and relying on the local Business Partner Manger's expertise, or just slogging through various Google searches.  This show will be invaluable to the growing population of Apple users across Southern Florida.

The concept for the show is the brain-child of Carmine DeSanto, CEO of Loop USA.  Carmine had participated in similar shows in greater Toronto, prior to moving to Southern Florida.  He felt that no one was providing a real venue for the end user, so set out to provide a resource, in his back yard, to give customers in Florida a small taste of what Mac faithful users get to see every year at Macworld in San Francisco.  Macworld has a small carve out section of their Expo dedicated to Enterprise and Business solutions.  This conference is specifically FOR those Enterprise/Business customers, I look forward to more shows like this around the US.


My Macworld 2010 Review

As most Mac fans know, Macworld is the annual get together for the Apple and Mac faithful held every year in San Francisco. More than your typical technology conference, it has a long history of being THE event for Apple users (and fans), who come in from literally every corner world.  It is traditionally an Apple/Steve Jobs love show.  This year, there was a cloud hanging over the show as Apple announced last year that they would not be participating in 2010. The show has never been run by Apple, and the all-things i-Maker decided that they were no longer interested being the largest paying sponsor and exhitbtor at the Fan-Fest.  Since they made that announcement, fear had gripped the Macworld regulars that if Apple bailed on the show, then the community wouldn't come out.  There was much anticipation as to how Macworld 2010 would really do.

Well, I am here to report that the show for the Apple faithful seems just fine to me.  There were 30,000+ attendees, crowding around the expo hall, all lining up to see what Apple treats the various exhibitors were touting.  When you take into account that Apple's market includes computers, iPhones, and music devices, there really seemed to be something for everyone.  It WAS definitively smaller.  With a number of vendors choosing to following Apple's back-out plan, the total exhibitor count drop forced the entire show into once conference hall.  In the recent years past there were two large conference halls, with Apple taking up a HUGE portion of one of them. Even with Apple and a few others not there (Adobe absent was noticeable), the single exhibitor hall felt vibrant.

For my company, xTuple, an Mac friendly ERP software company, attending a show like Macworld may seem a little out of place, right?  Enterprise software, next to the guy who makes the iPod stickers? Or iPod cases? And new Fashion bags for the iPad?  Fortunately, that's not exactly how it goes. IDG, the group that puts the show on, does a nice job of carving off an area where people who have an interest in stuff like Accounting Software and ERP, can all mingle together.  There were a few of us there in the ERP category, and we all appreciate the "Enterprise and Business Special Interest Pavilion".  It brought those business types over to us, and frankly kept the iPod sticker chasers away. Sure we did have to explain "what is ERP" more than once or twice. But we had far more great conversations than bad ones.  Many attendees had "look for business software" on their show agenda. They specifically popped by our booth, and then I would seen them walk down the isle to a competitor's booth, taking notes along the way.  I gave several demo's, which is always interesting on the show floor.  We had customers and partners come by.  . 

One big topic of conversation for us was the availability of iTuple on the iPhone.  More and more we see the community looking for solutions that can go where they go and iTuple is the ideal solution for that environment.  iTuple extends the capabilities of the xTuple ERP CRM functionality by putting all of your customers prospects, general business contacts and to-do's in the palm of your hand.  There is nothing that appeals more to Apple technology user than to be able to really USE your technology. iTuple extends the consumer content sharing benefits of the iPhone to the Enterprise. Now it's not just your movies and music, but your ERP and CRM solutions are far more accessible.  xTuple partner Paladin Logic, the authors of iTuple, had a promotion going on during the show which exponentially increased the number of iTuple downloads from iTunes. It's in the hands of even more xTuplers, today.

I am always pleasantly surprised to speak with Manufacturing companies in particular at Macworld. You may not think of Manufacturing as an Apple sweet spot, but Mac centric manufacturing companies are out there.  Many are running xTuple today. They are always thrilled to find us, and and often relay that they felt abandoned years ago when all the ERP companies fled to the Windows platform. They are happy to see us at Macworld, and happy to hear our customer stories. Similarly I was pleased to be situated in the Enterprise Pavilion next to a Mac native CAD solution! For years CAD has only existed on a Windows platform.  This company is going cross platform like xTuple, but using our same technology footprint, Qt Software.  This is more good news for the Mac in Manufacturing.

As an Apple technology in the Enterprise user myself, I am thrilled to see Apple in more Manufacturing and more businesses in general. It has been exciting for me to see the growth of our Mac customer base as enterprise users all over the world continue to discover the power and depth of xTuple ERP, and how well it runs in a Mac, or mixed environment. xTuple's Apple user base grows every month.  That's more Apple technology in the Enterprise, and a good thing all around.  At the show I saw many signals from Apple directly and those working closely with Apple that the iKing is beginning to take notice of of the permeation of Apple technology in business, particularly in the what they call the SMB (Small Medium Businesses) market.  The SMB space has always been the place where you would be most likely to find Apple products.  As one of the key growth engines in our economy, paying attention to SMB's is crucial. It is working for xTuple. In 2010 and beyond, it looks to be working for Apple technology in the Enterprise as well.