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IT gets schooled on Apple devices

Back-to-school season has me thinking about a common question kids face: What do you want to be when you grow up? Let’s go back in time to 2007 and imagine Apple’s iPhone on its first day of school, hopping off the bus with a backpack full of apps and heading to class. How would the now almost ubiquitous device answer that question eight years ago?

One answer I’m sure the iPhone wouldn’t have given back then is, “I want to be the tool that opens the door for mobile devices in the business world.” And yet, because of its consumer popularity — and that of its bigger brother, the iPad — that’s just what these Apple devices have become.

Apple smartphones and tablets have entered the workplace because employees prefer to use devices they know. In fact, 45% of workers use at least one Apple device for business, according to a recent Dimensional Research survey. By using the devices they are familiar with, employees are more productive, require less training and turn to the help desk less often.

Still, IT departments need a way to secure and manage Apple devices, which is not usually their specialty.

“Apple is not an IT vendor at its core,” said Chris Hazelton, enterprise mobility research director at 451 Research in New York, in this month’s Modern Mobility. “They could do more, but their heritage has been in the consumer market.”

On the security front, IT admins have dropped the ball when it comes to enforcing Apple device passwords. More than half of the workers Dimensional Research surveyed said their password is just a single word or a group of numbers, and worse, they share their passwords with other employees. Only 17% had a company-supplied password manager in place.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go back to school to learn a thing or two about supporting users’ Apple devices. Check out site editor Jake O’Donnell’s Modern Mobility cover story, which provides a more detailed look at Apple’s rise in the enterprise.