Zack Blum featured Computerworld Article
June 20, 2018
If you can determine the vitality of a platform within a sector by the activity it generates, then the appearance of new Apple in the enterprise-focused start-up, Fleetsmith, speaks volumes. Jonny Evans of Computerworld recently caught up with Zack Blum, CEO and co-founder of Fleetsmith, to see why he thinks the enterprise is Apple’s space today.
Apple ‘raised the bar’ for enterprise IT
Apple’s place in the enterprise is an iPhone success story, Blum observes.
“In many ways, Apple formalized and standardized the introduction of mobile to the enterprise, going all the way back to the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, and the iPad, which debuted in 2010,” he said.
Fleetsmith offers what Blum claims to be a highly secure, cloud-based SaaS Apple device management solution. He says his solution makes it possible to securely automate the provisioning of new Apple devices, including application install, update and more.
“As those devices have benefited from increasingly powerful processors, larger screens, and more sophisticated operating systems and applications, Apple’s biggest accomplishment and contribution to enterprise technology has been bringing mobile to the enterprise. Apple has raised the bar in delivering well-designed product experiences, as well as hardware and OS security,” he said.
The mobile enterprise needs better design
There have been two big shifts in enterprise technology in recent years: the shift from on-premises IT infrastructure to (often more agile) cloud-based services, and the shift to mobility.
Mobility has opened up new productivity possibilities.
It has also unleashed new paradigms in application design. Designing enterprise applications for mobile devices has generated demand for much better user interfaces.
“Mobile product design constraints have ... led to enterprise software users demanding better product UX, and SaaS companies meeting users’ expectations by delivering on the consumerization of IT trend," Blum said.
For Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, cloud — specifically Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure — has "dramatically decreased and standardized the cost of building products,” he said.
“There's no excuse for poorly designed software,” Blum pointed out. “Being ‘enterprise’ certainly is not a good excuse. At a minimum, pattern-matching, well-designed software should provide companies without a core design competency with a baseline, decent user experience.”
A phone, an iPod, and an enterprise device
Apple’s stealthy success in turning the world of enterprise IT upside down has its roots in Apple’s decision to acquire NeXT, the return of Steve Jobs and the move to adopt a Unix base in macOS.
Apple’s focus on making well-designed, premium products that seamlessly merged hardware and software also boosted its resonance.
History moves forward.
Today’s Apple “offers an excellent platform optimized around increased employee productivity, both on desktop and mobile, and enough management hooks and security built into their operating systems to make them increasingly viable and successful in the enterprise,” Blum explained. “The introduction of the iPhone and iPad changed the game.”
Recent years have seen significant Apple deployments across enterprise IT.
Apple has reached partnerships with some of the biggest names in enterprise tech: IBM, Cisco, Jamf, Deloitte, Accenture, GE, and SAP, among others.
The computer company makes a point of revealing new enterprise deployments during almost every quarterly financial call, and this momentum has also been confirmed in numerous surveys.
iOS has “created a halo effect, increasing macOS enterprise market share,” Blum pointed out. That’s certainly what the market sees.
That’s an opportunity, of course.
“When founding Fleetsmith, my co-founders and I saw a need for a comprehensive solution that made it easier for companies to manage and secure their growing Apple fleets,” Blum said.
He’s not alone in the market, of course — the sector is pretty much dominated by Jamf, but with enterprise Apple deployments rapidly increasing in scale and scope there appears to be plenty of space for this sector to develop.
“I’d argue that Apple has played a leading role in enterprise trends such as BYOD, the future of work, and the consumerization of IT,” Blum said.