Listen up CIOs! IBM saves $270/ employee who switches from a Windows PC to a MacBook


IBM noted recently that it had seen dramatically lower usage of IT support by those employees who switched from Windows PCs to Macs. Apple has now quantified the cost savings this has generated, noting that the combination of reduced support and increased residual values of Macs meant that IBM saved $270 for every employee who made the switch.

IBM employees are offered the opportunity to swap out their Windows machines for Macs whenever they are due an upgrade. The company has committed to buying 50,000 MacBooks by the end of the year, and Business Insider notes that it has so far deployed 30,000 of them.

IBM is not alone in its enthusiasm for Macs in the enterprise sector, observed Tim Cook during yesterday’s earnings call … 

Cook reported that the company now generates $25 billion in enterprise sales, up 40% year-on-year, and said that “everywhere I look [in the enterprise field], I see significant opportunity.”

The deal between Apple and IBM was part of the partnership agreement announced last year that has IBM developing enterprise apps for iOS. Apps developed so far are being rolled out in banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications, government and airlines. Apple Watch support has also been added to several of the apps.

The video below features IBM’s Fletcher Previn talking about the benefits seen by the switch-to-Mac program.


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  1. PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

    1) While the opening line in the title is a great one, I think CIO’s aren’t going to support this, as they risk an implode of their taskforce. Might be better to the every CFO(!)

    2) $25B/y in Enterprise sales, wow! How much does MS make?

    3) I like the new font!

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      True :-)

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

      Actually, it’s the CEO that can dictate to the CIO and IBM knows this. IBM has more experience dealing with the Enterprise crowd than Apple. That’s always been Apple/Jobs’ shortcoming. Jobs just didn’t know how to market to the Enterprise crowd and now they have IBM to substantiate the Apple difference and it’s a huge statement when IBM flips and goes “ALL IN” with Apple over the previous model of using Windows. I think this is just the early stages of the transition, but the iPad/iPhone has changed the model and now it’s just easier to get Macs into the Enterprise, especially with IBM supporting the efforts. Many businesses still look to IBM for business solutions and they will do what IBM tells them.

      • realgurahamu - 7 years ago

        The thing about this which is actually giving apple the biggest push is the fact that Windows was initially created from stolen IBM code – since IBM went service only and stopped PC manufacturing, this makes sense for them but it is just ironic considering their starting point

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

        realguraharmu, “windows was initially created from stolen iBM code.” Where did you get that from?

        IBM sold their PC mfg business to Lenovo because it wasn’t profitable. When the internet came out, more households were buying PCs, instead of mostly companies. then companies like Dell came out and took out the middle man as they sold direct. Then IBM, Compaq and others had to compete, and in doing so, their margins were destroyed which is why IBM, Compaq, AST, etc. sold off their PC business. IBM decided that it was more profitable to buy up software companies, develop their services organization and to keep their higher priced server market. The main reasons why they are dong Macs, is initially since iOS devices started getting traction in the Enterprise and there was an increase in employees that want to use OS X instead of Windows. IBM has had other projects with Apple, remember Taligent? Nothing came from it, but they were working together on a new OS platform. IBM also was partnering with Apple on their PowerPC processor platform and IBM has had some people using Macs, but it’s just getting more traction. They decided to improve employee morale, and to further their partnership with Apple to add OS X devices to their reseller/support agreement since IOS devices is a bigger market in the Enterprise and IBM recognized that in order for them to offer their customers solutions, they have to add iOS devices and now OS X devices to what they offer their customers as well as the services/software that goes along with them.

        Their Mac initiative just started in June and it’s already showing some improved metrics over them using Windows. If the users can decide what they want to use and it saves IBM money and they are more productive, then they will continue to see increased number of Macs over PCs. It’s still too early to tell how many Macs they will eventually have, but at the rate they are going, it would take them about 4 years to completely replace all of their Windows computers with Macs. They have 400,000 employees and right now, they have 30,000+ Macs with 1,900 a week being added.

        Yeah, it is ironic, which makes it an even bigger selling point. Remember when the former Chairman of the Board of Compaq, Ben Rosen, went public and thanked Steve Jobs for the Mac? Ben Rosen was also another big important person in the PC industry that switched and I’m sure that sent a message to other CEO’s and upper management, that they should not turn their back on Macs. Nowadays, it’s more common to see a BYOD approach or companies are simply opening up the gates to allow Macs since it’s a lot easier to have a mixed environment and obviously they see a benefit in lower IT support costs. GE was doing a pilot project a couple of years back allowing employees to request a Mac, I don’t know how much traction Macs have at GE, but they are a very large corporation and they are iPad customers.

      • Rich Davis, he got that probably from his age. I’m guessing you’re too young to know the history. Though he mistakingly said Windows rather than DOS. The young Bill Gates was a damn crook that stole source code from everyone they could to make their own DOS. DOS = Disk Operating System.

      • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

        And before DOS he made QDOS.

  2. standardpull - 7 years ago

    Change isn’t easy for poorly-managed shops. At one customer site this year, I saw that they still have plenty of web apps that were built exclusively for Internet Explorer, and VB-based apps that still require the windows-only VB runtime system. Yes, its like it is still 2002 there.

    A dangerous way to be, but when the major security breach happens, or when “the SP that breaks it all” gets released, the CIO will be able to blame the budget or his predecessors.

    I’m sure there are thousands of poorly managed IT shops that are so far behind that they can never improve their IT posture.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

      If a customer has web apps that are specifically written for IE, then that’s a dumb customer that probably doesn’t know how to develop apps or they bought into the Microsoft nonsense which has non-standard methods of doing things that lock customers into Microsoft. Some customers don’t do that because they know it locks them into Windows. They can improve on their IT posture, it just takes a different CIO and IT Management personnel. The CEO just has to recognize they have an IT problem and are willing to fire their CIO and figure out a better way to manage their IT with regards to the user. Yeah, I had customers that were doing everything Microsoft centric and locking out anything that’s not Windows, but they are typically old fashioned IT Shops and they eventually die one way or another.

      There are more and more companies that are adopting the choice of using whatever platform they want, and the BYOD method. Some companies are still stuck in the old fashioned, lock out everything that’s not Windows.

      What IBM is doing is they recognized that iOS devices are becoming more prevalent in the Enterprise, which is why they did the iOS deal with Apple to be a reseller/support and to bring their apps over to iOS. They later added Macs because they have a lot of employees that want to use Macs, and this gives the ability to have internal experiences so they can leverage what they learned to help customers implement iOS and OS X devices within the Enterprise. Cisco has about 30+% of their employees using Macs, and they also have been buying iPads as well, so they also have experience and recognize this change and that’s why the got added and they control about 70% of the switches used in the Enterprise.

  3. Could we define what ‘support’ means?

    Is it Hardware or in-house software application

    If its is hardware
    then were all the windows machine from the same vendor
    were all the machines built in the same year (meaning comparing 199X/200x Compaq versus 2014 Mac)
    If the support calls were software based
    were the calls driver related
    were the calls in-house developed software bugs where Bob from Sales couldn’t enter in his sales into the Web App because of XYZ
    were the calls because of std. OS application like…file copying, playing media,
    were the calls because of MS Office versus Apple Keynote, numbers and etc
    were the calls because of mixed OS versions…(yes I know we still run windows 98!)

    What I am saying is that throwing numbers around and planting a flag claiming 5000% increase in cost should be a held with a bit of caution. I think(?) I remember some politician/education ‘initially’ claiming success with the LA school system iPad program only to have it later…

    IBM has a motivation for claiming success and improvement…heck his job ‘Could’ be on the line as he could have proposed the switch to MAC.

    As someone who works in IT I can tell you that most problem are from
    1) Some Web App not working
    2) Some Web App not working
    3) HDD failure
    4) Networking issues (hard to write a ticket if there’s no internet)
    5) Print drivers not working

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

      IBM wasn’t specific, and they were only discussing the trouble tickets their IT staff was getting. I read in another article that was a recap of their recent presentation that they have over 130,000 Apple devices (iPhones/iPads/Macs) and they only have 24 iT Admin people supporting all of those devices. Having been in the Enterprise market with several large corporate resellers, I can tell you that that’s impressive. that’s 5,400 devices per IT Staff member.

      I read in another article that they essentially handed out a fresh, in the box, computer, and they have their setup where the user downloads the apps they need and that whole process has been streamlined, that will greatly reduce the number of IT support people if they offload some of the tasks to the end user. Obviously, downloading fresh software installs takes time, but with high speed networks, and how the software is typically installed on Apple products, it can be setup to be fairly quick and painless.

      It’s a known fact that Apple is much less costly to support than PCs. There have been university studies and other market research studies done over the years to substantiate this, but this is just a more real world example.

      It’s rare when an entire network goes down, Employee are typically able to call in a Trouble ticket over the phone and the IT staff should have a computer to create a new trouble ticket, so it’s VERY rare when a trouble ticket can’t be created and now with mobile devices, it’s hard to use that as an excuse.

    • bqecze - 7 years ago

      One of the key points to reiterate here is that IBM is working with Apple on a number of significant projects now. So this is not an unbiased evaluation by any means. I don’t see how it is possible to change the OS for your entire workforce and not have an uptick in support regardless of how well the OS is made. The support needed to show people how to do basic tasks would have to increase even if temporarily.

      As many have also mentioned, support calls are not always, in fact frequently are not, OS related rather a website, network drop, server, account issue. So I am not sure how well quantified or qualified these claims are… and I say that as a fan of OSX. However I do work in a business environment and have addressed this same question. I simply don’t see the value especially given how less manageable (relatively speaking) OSX is in a business environment.

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

        Yeah, it’s an unbiased evaluation as much as anyone else’s. Did you watch the video?

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

        If, your assumption was correct in that most IT Support problems are not OS related, then they would see the name percentage of users calling their IT Support Staff, but that’s not the case. But the thing is, they don’t have the same non-OS related problems when creating these trouble tickets. That tells me that they are OS related somehow. The only difference between the two platforms is how they implement them. With PCs, they do a standard image so when you get your computer, it already has all of the apps, etc. installed through a standard image. With the Macs, they have you go to a website and download/install everything from servers. So, if they have less IT Support calls as a percentage of the total number of users, OBVIOUSLY your assumption isn’t correct.

        Manageable? What do you mean by less manageable? Some companies use tools to manage the Macs/iOS and some companies don’t. If you have the tools to manage the Macs, then they are manageable. What do you think JAMF does anyway? They develop management software for OS X and IOS. Some companies that have Macs may not be using JAMF software and for those people they don’t have the management tools for OS X and iOS.

        They currently give their employees the OPTION of using Macs and at the time they gave the presentation, they had about 30,000 Macs and an install rate of about 1,900 per week implementation rate, which is about 98,000 units a year.

      • iphonery - 7 years ago

        Have you considered the employee personally owning an OSX/iOS device at home, making that transition at work as fluid as can be?

  4. Scott (@ScooterComputer) - 7 years ago

    Ironic, I think, that Apple learned that IBM was seeing this $270 savings, and then turned right around and effectively raised the price of the “entry” level iMac by $500 in BTO upgrades (or force buyers to purchase a crappy machine with 3-year-old-plus specs, like a sucker). And Apple STILL doesn’t offer a reasonable a reasonable business class monitor (for Mac mini or MacBook Pro). [No, these folks DO NOT WANT a $1000 27″ “GINORMOUS” billboard on their desks!]

    • Isitjustme - 7 years ago

      Wrong, with every iteration a mac gets cheaper but alas for the IT department as their personnel are losing their jobs.

      Learn to buy the best monitor with the best price and who ask you to buy a $1000 monitor.

      But then some folks are challenged any way as they can’t use their mental faculty properly to get the best benefits.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

      Laptops are now the most common used device in the enterprise. No, iMacs aren’t 3+ year old specs, they are using within the last year specs. The computer OEM’s are in the beginning stages of the Skylake refresh, so it’ll be a matter of time when Apple releases the Skylake refreshes to all of their products. It takes Intel a little time to get enough product shipping so that the OEM’s can refresh their product line. Remember, Apple uses the Thunderbolt based chip sets for most of their products, so they probably have to wait until Intel can get their volumes up so Apple can refresh their product line, but Apple’s not using 3+ year old specs on anything they sell, so please don’t mislead people with your ignorance.

  5. rafterman11 - 7 years ago

    Macs still have limited ability with enterprise application support. I use a Mac as my primary machine at work and home, but when deploying them to the “herds”, PCs still are the best supported in the Enterprise. Some tools we use in support only work on Windows, meaning either you need a VM or a PC to RDP into.

    • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

      It depends on the company. Obviously, Apple doesn’t seem to have a problem using Macs in the Enterprise, IBM doesn’t seem to have a problem supporting Macs in the Enterprise, maybe the company you work for chose the wrong tools to use or simply haven’t seen what is actually out on the market.

      • rafterman11 - 7 years ago

        As a state university, we use industry standard enterprise services, based on vmware ESX server farms, to run hundreds of servers, and desktop management tools, like Microsoft’s Operation Manager and Configuration Manager products, to handle desktop management. Not to mention other services, like SQL DB clusters and specific tools, like Kronos time management clock systems, a number of video streaming service products and Blackboard educational tools. Having to manage hundreds of servers and a 100,000 desktops limits choices.

        In other words, its still very much a Windows world when it comes to the Enterprise.

      • Rich Davis (@RichDavis9) - 7 years ago

        rafterman, yeah, I guess your environment is predominately Windows only environment, but not everyone is the same. Microsoft’s own desktop management tools are Windows only, but JAMF offers IOS/OS X desktop management software. I’m wondering if there will be one that supports all OS platforms. Microsoft is known for only supporting Microsoft, but there are other desktop management software out there, you just have to know what’s out there and buy what works with your environment.

        Having been in the enterprise reseller market, I’ve seen a lot of different scenarios and from an outsider point of view, some companies/organizations buy into the Microsoft BS and some don’t. What servers you have doesn’t matter what Desktop you have if you use apps that support both Windows and OS X, or write your browser apps to be open to any browser, that way you aren’t locked into just Windows.

        Some universities are open to both macs and windows, some are more Mac centric and some are more Windows centric, it all has to do with the choices their IT department makes. But it’s common for CIO’s to want headcount and increased budgets because it makes them feel more powerful in the company, even though they are increasing their overhead costs which goes directly against the CEO, which typically wants LOWER overhead costs and increased productivity. Lots of IT support people hate Macs because of two reasons. 1. They aren’t trained on OS X, and 2. Macs threaten their jobs since they don’t need as many IT Admin people to support the same number of computers. That’s why when you talk to CIO’s and IT Support people, they don’t like Macs because of their ignorance and insecurity. I’ve seen it countless times. One must understand the psychology behind their decisions.

  6. Joe Belkin - 7 years ago

    when home depot and target were hacked, the first thing IT did was replace all the exec PC’s with Macs.

  7. fabrica64 - 7 years ago

    It was IBM that started Microsoft and their way to make crap software. IBM is the one responsible for it and should pay high IT cost for eternity, not switch to Mac :-)


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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