How IBM changed the tech world on June 1, 2015

Nearly three years ago, IBM began offering its employees their choice in work computer. We reflect on how this "choice" has helped organizations improve company culture and save money.

May 16 2018 by

Daniel Weber

IBM has many milestones in its storied history, but one in particular stands out. Nearly three years ago, IBM began offering its employees choice in work computer.

This was a far cry from the days of ‘Big Blue’ seeming like ‘Big Brother’ or Steve Jobs saying ‘hello’ outside of IBM’s New York office.

Apple and IBM realized they weren’t so different after all.

IBM’s Apple device choice announcement
It couldn’t be true, could it? IBM — the PC giant — giving its employees Mac computers? Then VP of Workplace-as-a-Service at IBM (now Chief Information Officer), Fletcher Previn, took center stage at the Jamf Nation User Conference (JNUC) on Oct. 14, 2015 to upset the status quo.

For over an hour, Previn laid out IBM’s thought process behind one of the largest Apple deployments on the planet. IBM is never going to do anything simply to think different; instead, they went through a systematic process to expose the myths that Mac was more expensive, more difficult to use for a work computer, and more demanding for IT to manage than PCs. Why’d they do this? To improve culture and save money in the process.

On June 1, 2015, IBM began offering its employees their choice in work computer: either a Mac or PC. As quickly as they could say, “Mac or…” the Mac requests poured in. Previn said that IBM began deploying 1,900 Macs per week, all supported by 24 help desk staff members. At the time, that equated to one staff member supporting 5,400 Mac users.

On the other hand, one support staff member could only support 242 PC users. This is due solely to how simple Mac is to use. Case in point, only 5 percent of Mac users call the help desk for assistance, compared to 40 percent of PC users.

With these findings, Previn didn’t mince words when he said, “Every Mac that we buy is making and saving IBM money.”

One year later: A TCO story
After dropping the mic at JNUC 2015, Previn returned in 2016 to provide an IBM update. Now with 90,000 Macs deployed around the world (with only five admins needed to support them), IBM had a new story to tell.

Total cost of ownership (TCO) has gained traction as the new way to look at the true cost of a technology initiative. As opposed to simply looking at the initial price tag, TCO examines what it takes to adequately use and support a piece of technology throughout its lifespan.

At JNUC 2016, Previn demonstrated how, depending on model, IBM saves anywhere from $273-$543 per Mac compared to a PC, over a four-year span.

He broke IBM’s TCO model down into four categories:

  1. Base services
  2. Hardware and essential software
  3. Management
  4. Support

With residual value and built-in Mac features (as opposed to requiring add-on software for PCs), Mac quickly demonstrates its TCO prowess over the competition.

For a complete breakdown of Mac and PC TCO, including details on each of the four stages listed above, read this article based on IBM’s TCO presentation.

What about the little guys?
If you’re skeptical that only the IBMs of the world can benefit from Apple and employee-choice programs, it’s time to change your way of thinking. You want productive employees, right? And want to be able to attract, hire and retain the best talent? Device-choice programs are the fastest way to get there.

In our recent global survey, we asked 580 organizations — of all sizes — if technology choice really mattered? The findings:

  • 68 percent say technology choice makes them more productive
  • 37 percent say technology choice makes them more creative
  • 35 percent say technology choice makes them more collaborate

And of those employees already benefiting from an employee-choice program, 77 percent are more likely to choose to work or stay at a company that offers choice.

Download the entire survey report to see even more fascinating findings.

Spoiler alert: 72 percent of employees will choose Mac over PC.

Easier than ever to implement choice
With IBM opening many eyes to the power and savings of employee-choice programs, Apple has created dedicated resources in the form of a new Business page and Employee Choice Guide for IT.

Listed as a preferred management solution on Apple’s resources, Jamf has a proven record of helping Fortune 500 and corner stores implement and succeed with Mac.

To recap:

  • Employees want Mac
  • Mac has a lower TCO than PC
  • We can help implement your choice program

Ready to put Apple and Jamf to work for you? Or at a minimum, curious what offering choice would entail in your environment? We’re ready whenever you are.

Contact one of our choice experts, or even better, take Jamf Pro for a free spin and see how we’ve made it possible for organizations just like yours to offer choice.

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