Apple introduces device management solution aimed at small business
It may be quite difficult for small firms to maintain track of and update the Apple devices used by their staff. When devices malfunction or customers have issues, these firms frequently lack skilled IT staff, thus they are frequently forced to use Apple’s customer service resources on their own.
Apple bought Fleetsmith last year in response to this problem, and today the firm unveiled the beta of Apple Business Essentials, a device management programme specifically designed for organizations with less than 500 employees.
According to Susan Prescott, vice president of enterprise and education marketing at Apple, the business sought to assist these clients with setting up, maintaining, and updating employee Apple devices as well as off boarding them when employees left the organization.
It is made up of three main components and is intended to manage Apple devices during their entire lives. Device management, storage, and support are all included in a single subscription, according to Prescott.
The Fleetsmith acquisition and the Apple Device Enrollment Program combine to make up the management component. By providing them more control over the devices and guaranteeing that they function as soon as the employee checks in, it enables small firms to have access to a similar range of tools as their larger competitors.
Admins have the ability to create users and groups if a company subscribes to the service. Groups of users may be created, and administrators can choose the number of compatible devices and the storage size for each group. Additionally, any business or organization may include a foundational set of appropriate apps.
Employees are allowed to use their own devices, and the firm will create a work profile for them when they check in to a compatible device. Only their job-related data is backed up in this manner, and if they quit the firm, only their work will be destroyed, leaving their personal data unaltered and out of the employer’s hands.
The solution also contributes to security maintenance by keeping the device current with the most recent system upgrades, regardless of whether it belongs to the user personally or to the company. Additionally, it gives administrators the ability to impose security settings like FileVault full-disk encryption on Macs or Activation Lock to lock down any Apple device in the event that it is misplaced or stolen.
Although businesses are allowed to connect to a third-party storage service like Dropbox, the storage component comes from iCloud. The help desk services for both the IT division operating Apple Business Essentials and staff members with any Apple-related inquiries are part of the support component. The business-level support division of Apple, AppleCare+, will take care of that portion. In addition, it will feature onsite support within four hours of reporting an event, whether at home or in a workplace, when it exits beta. The latter will be managed by associates of Apple.
It’s a service that should interest small businesses, according to Maribel Lopez, founder and principal analyst at Lopez Research, as it effectively spares them from using Apple customer care channels, which aren’t particularly geared to handle commercial needs.
“SMBs have essentially been excluded from management and assistance. The Genius Bar lacked the real-time help that every company, especially SMBs, needed, and many would have assumed that the more involved MDM (mobile device management) wasn’t for them. Part of it is because Fleetsmith was seen as a more mobile- and user-friendly approach to managing [devices]. Another aspect of it is user-centricity as opposed to device-centricity, the speaker added.
The new programme gives small businesses access to a range of services that were previously only available to larger businesses, according to Tom Mainelli, an analyst with IDC’s device and consumer research group. As long as the cost is fair, it is likely that these businesses will be willing to pay Apple to provide these services, he added.
It makes perfect sense that Apple is concentrating on small enterprises. Smaller businesses frequently lack full-time IT staff, but enterprise clients are likely to have have management systems in place to handle their Apple goods. That implies that they may find it challenging to handle everything, particularly when there is a mixture of employee- and employer-purchased equipment, he added.
Despite the fact that he predicted many company owners would be happy to pay Apple to handle these difficulties on their behalf, he added, “Apple will likely need to drive some education on what the various levels of service offered, and why a small business needs them.”
The firm will charge depending on the setup for the device management and storage components, even if the service is free during the beta phase. A per-user fee will be added for the support components, but that won’t be available until the solution is broadly accessible, which is anticipated in the spring of next year.