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Jamf CEO: Mac Could Match Windows In Enterprise Within 10 Years

At the company's JNUC 2019 conference, Dean Hager speaks with CRN about the huge growth of Apple's Mac line within the business world and the major opportunities ahead for channel partners.

Dean Hager, CEO of Apple device management software maker Jamf, has a unique vantage point into the surging demand for Mac inside businesses around North America.

And what Hager has seen suggests that the growth is just getting started, he told CRN this week during the company's JNUC 2019 conference.

[Related: Apple Enterprise Specialist Jamf Growing 'Immensely' Amid Channel Push]

"Could [Mac adoption] go from 9 or 10 percent, to 25 percent or 30 percent, within five years? It's possible," Hager told CRN during the conference, held in Jamf's home city of Minneapolis. "As more and more organizations say that their employees can choose a Mac, I think you'll see a day where there is a more even distribution between Mac and Windows within the enterprise ... Without a doubt within 10 years."

Jamf reports having more than 35,000 customers and managing 15 million Apple devices, including for prominent customers such as IBM, SAP and even Apple itself. Jamf's flagship product, Jamf Pro, is an enterprise mobility management offering for managing and securing devices including Macs, iPads and iPhones.

Meanwhile, Jamf this week unveiled its macOS endpoint security offering, Jamf Protect, while also announcing Jamf Connect for Mobile, which lets customers use their iPhone to get password-free access to their Mac or Windows PC.

Jamf's recent growth has been driven in part through increased efforts with channel partners, company executives have told CRN.

"From a channel perspective, the addition of Jamf Connect and Jamf Protect--along with Jamf Pro--allows our channel partners to put together a whole solution," Hager said. "They can actually say, here's your Apple device, and here's everything you need for the enterprise in order to deploy that."

What follows is an edited portion of the interview with Hager.

Do you think the Mac is now seeing viral growth in the business world, like the iPhone did?

Each has had its different flavor. The iPhone was really more of, "Hey, I love this thing I'm using at home. I really want to use it [for work]." Not everybody knew whether they were going to get permission to do it. But now we're 10 years past BYOD. And also, the Mac has probably got the greatest loyalty among users of any computing device in history. There's almost an emotional element to it—"I want to be able to use a Mac at work, and I see other organizations doing it. There's no reason our organization shouldn't be doing it as well." So there is that viral element, definitely.

But there's a couple things that are different about that. One is that it is often starting with the C suite, which helps. It's actually the C suite who likes using the Mac. And once they get IT to approve their use of Mac by using Jamf, then it seems unfair to not let everybody else choose Mac if they want. But the other thing that's happening is it's actually becoming an HR movement. Because HR is saying, we have got a graduating class coming out of university who has never used a Windows device before. So we have to offer Mac. So it's got a little bit of both the viral and the top-down.

You've suggested that it is pretty unprecedented to have this type of phenomenon happen within businesses?

There is a website called Statcounter that measures web traffic, by region and by device. And according to that data, Windows in the United States was 95 percent of web traffic 10 years ago. And today Windows is 33 percent of web traffic. But if you add up iOS and Mac together, it's 40 percent of web traffic. Which means Apple is actually a more popular operating system maker in the United States, than Windows is. So with the consumerization of IT, that has come into the enterprise. Can you think of any movement that's ever happened in enterprise IT, that has been demanded by the users like this? I literally can't think of anything other than the use of Apple within the enterprise environment.

Why is SAP's Apple Center of Excellence a big deal?

I think they realized that if you deploy Apple like another non-Apple device, it will actually work like a non-Apple device. There are some out there that believe that if they're going to support all devices from all manufacturers, the only way to do that is to create a middleware layer of software that would come with each device—no matter whether it's Windows, Android or Apple. And then that middleware layer—for mail, files, all of these—that would be what users experience. As opposed to the native Apple experience that Apple intended. So the things that you would use most often during the day would actually work exactly the same on iOS and Android. And we've just never believed that should be the case. We believe that mail and notes and Office 365, that you have a blended life and you should be able to use these devices in a secure manner for your whole life, not just part of your life—and and use the native Apple capabilities that are there.

So SAP has been kind of a second key customer deployment beyond IBM?

Well we've got 35,000 customers now—we have certainly promoted some of the largest ones. We like to have some of those customers come back and speak frequently, because they always have new news to share. So if they're out in front of everybody else, that means that they know what the world looks like over the next hill. So they keep coming back to share with everybody, hey we've taken it a little bit further and here's what life looks like. And for IBM, they now have data where literally their employees are staying with the company longer if they have a Mac. SAP has taken on the next tail and said, we're not just going to do Macs with Jamf, but iOS devices as well. And you know what? It created a fantastic user experience there as well—the employees are happier, the IT team is more efficient. So as long as they keep on the forefront, they can keep letting everybody else know what the world looks like.

The IBM figures are interesting, on how many people are using Mac versus Windows—Windows is still twice as much. IBM is 60 percent Windows versus 30 percent Mac. So there's still a big growth opportunity, even within IBM?

Well they didn't go out to 500,000 people and say, "Everybody choose today." Everybody chooses at their next refresh. Not everybody has refreshed in the last three years. And in year one, everybody that refreshed, they didn't even know if the program was going to work yet. So they probably just refreshed on the same device that they already knew. So really it's actually quite remarkable when you think that the refresh rates have gone from zero to 30 percent in three years. What's going to happen in the next three years? As everybody now knows, this is a program that works. And now that IBM has released the data—that the satisfaction rates and the Net Promoter Scores are higher, and the retention rates, and even the performance—I suspect that there's going to be a few more people choosing Mac at the next refresh.

How much adoption of Mac overall in business do you think we'll see five years from now or 10 years from now?

My estimates would be that in the last 10 years, Mac has gone from 1 to 2 percent worldwide to 9 to 10 percent today. In the U.S., it was maybe 3 to 4 percent and it's up to 12 to 13 percent now. These are estimates, but there's enough supporting data that I feel pretty comfortable with that. And I believe that that movement, of 10 percentage points, is the hardest movement. For that movement, the world had to overcome the perception that it was simply a machine for creatives as opposed to a business machine—that it actually could run the productivity of your job and your life. And now that that perception is out of the way, and now that Jamf is actually used by most organizations in order to do that deployment, now it's about scaling it. So the real question to ask is, how many people want a Mac? And we know that a very large number do. Could it go from 9 or 10 percent, to 25 percent or 30 percent, within five years? It's possible. IBM is actually a pretty good indication. IBM has every type of job that they employ, and their people are all over the world. IBM has never required that their employees use a Mac, and yet it's gone from zero to 30 percent in three years. As more and more organization say that their employees can choose a Mac, I think you'll see a day where there is a more even distribution between Mac and Windows within the enterprise.

Do you think that's within 10 years?

Without a doubt within 10 years. I don't wonder whether that kind of a split is possible in 10 years. I think five years is probably a little bit of more difficult. And again it goes back to what I said about IBM—you have to get people on their refresh cycle. And if they're not quite there on their next refresh cycle, they'll be on the next one. Well, that's an eight-year period. So you are probably looking at a 10-year journey.

There's a reason why our mission is to help organizations succeed with Apple. We feel that if we keep helping organizations deliver a great experience for their users, we're not sure why Apple wouldn't have unlimited potential. The incredible, ironic thing about Apple is that their enterprise growth came from focusing on the consumer. What other organization can you say that about? That because of their focus on the individual, and the consumerization of IT, they ended up in the enterprise? And so long as they keep doing what they're doing, and as long as Jamf keeps filling that space between what Apple built and the enterprise needs, that's a pretty good combination.

How big of an opportunity is this for your channel partners?

It is a market size worth billions of dollars. It's all available to the channel. Most of our business is starting to run through the channel now. And I think that this market in general was made for the channel. Because people really want to buy the whole solution—they want to buy the devices and they want to buy everything that runs the devices. And in some ways we think of ourselves as being the enterprise operating system for Apple. And so, if I'm a channel partner, I would say to customers, how would you like to buy these Apple devices and the enterprise operating system that goes along with it?

Could you talk about the goal of expanding what Jamf is doing with MSPs?

We have a handful of MSP partners out there today, and they do a really nice job for their customers. One is Electric—they're a Jamf customer and MSP. They go out to small businesses and they just say, "You want your employees to have Mac, we've got you covered. They will get their Mac, it will be managed, we'll be your support desk, we'll be everything." Especially when you have IT shops where all they've ever done is Windows, the notion of just outsourcing it completely to another organization can seem pretty appealing. So we do see that as an opportunity.

Jamf has been very loyal to Apple for a long time—what is it like to see this upswell of demand for Apple products in businesses?

I think Jamf has mirrored what has happened in the world. Jamf was founded in 2002. And I think there's really been three eras of Jamf. The first era was the bootstrap years. And it was the Jamf founders out there, simply doing the fundamentals, making more money than they spent. And they just had a really nice Mac product, and they went out and did a good job. And then the middle era of Jamf, from 2008 to 2014 or so, were the education years—where Jamf just started really growing fast in education. And that made sense to everybody because Apple was very popular in education, and the iPad had just come out. And then, since 2014 to today—although we're still very involved in education and it's a great growth market for us—the commercial business use of Apple has just skyrocketed. And for Jamf, that has been driven actually by the Mac first, and then it's actually iOS that's followed. That's been the one thing that's been opposite for Jamf than for everybody else. Because Jamf has such a strong position in Mac, we actually went into the business working with the Mac. And then they said, because of our great experience, then the iOS devices come into Jamf, too.

Has your loyalty to Apple afforded you a closer relationship with Apple than other companies have had?

It is fairly unusual for them. Obviously they shared a little bit about their relationship with Jamf [on stage at JNUC]. Which is also an unusual thing for Apple to share. I would never want to rank us as Apple partner, from Apple's perspective. I will say from Jamf's perspective, we feel a very close partnership—because we get the support that we need, and we feel like we can provide a better solution in working with Apple. I will say I do believe that Jamf is an appealing partner, because no matter who we go to, we are actually positioning and selling—as are our channel partners—the Apple experience. And by that I mean, it's always an Apple device, and it is the Apple experience that Apple originally intended. So if you're Apple and you have the choice of saying, talk to these guys who are actually selling the Apple experience—or these guys that may sell Apple devices with a shared experience, or they might actually position a different device from a different manufacturer—who are you going to partner closer with?

How about Microsoft? How would you describe your partnership with them?

It's been interesting because Apple is largely focused on the individual. And Microsoft has largely been focused on the organization. And as a result, I would say that they've delivered different levels of simplicity. And along comes Jamf right in between them, and says, we—like Microsoft—are focused on the organization. But like Apple, we want that legendary individual experience. So we will bridge the gap. We will be the ones that deliver the Apple experience in the Microsoft organization. And we have just ended up landing in a really good spot, where we're partnered equally well with both of those organizations.

An interesting example is what you're doing with the Jamf Connect for Mobile, where you're enabling signing into a Windows device with an iPhone?

What we originally had done with that was we wanted to create a single authentication experience, that would be based on biometrics captured on the phone—the safest and most secure and simplest way to capture your identity. And we said, let's create this Apple ecosystem experience—you have a Mac, you have a phone, you can get access to everything just with one Face ID. But then we said, iPhone has more than 50 market share in the enterprise. And Mac is 10 percent—which means there are a lot of Windows users that have an iPhone. So why would we not create the same experience for them as well, using the identity capture that exists on the iPhone? That all ships together in 2020—we're going to ship that for Windows and Mac simultaneously.

Overall, what is your message to channel partners out of JNUC 2019?

I just think from a channel perspective, the addition of Jamf Connect and Jamf Protect--along with Jamf Pro--allows our channel partners to put together a whole solution. I think we make their life easier by being able to simply put together the whole solution. They don't have to piecemeal together a set of horizontal-based solutions that will, in a substandard way, fit the Apple ecosystem. They can actually say, here's your Apple device, and here's everything you need for the enterprise in order to deploy that.

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