Cisco: Macs in business boost productivity and security, cuts costs

Mac adoption in the enterprise isn’t just about giving employees hardware options, according to Cisco CIO Fletcher Previn. It’s a business imperative — and many companies agree.

Previn spoke at this week’s Jamf Nation User Conference (JNUC), where he explained that migrating to Apple hardware boosts productivity, enhances security, and can trim ownership costs. And he has the evidence to back the claim up.

The former IBM CIO talked up many of the benefits of the platform following mass deployments there. Now in the same role at Cisco, his requirements have become even more security conscious — but the Apple benefits remain the same. The 12-month-old Mac@Cisco program gives 130,000 employees choice.
Previn was at JNUC to share details about Cisco’s Mac transition on the eve of Cisco’s announced takeover of cybersecurity specialist Splunk.

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Cisco releases TCO tool for IT to make its own decisions
To arrive at some of these conclusions, Cisco built a tool to enumerate and assess differences between installed kit to get a credible cost of ownership figure. To help other businesses considering Mac adoption, Cisco also made its own Total Cost Ownership (TCO) Calculator available for Mac admins everywhere to download and use.

The tool will help them figure out the TCO for Mac and Windows end user computing devices such as laptops and desktops. The open-source application, built by a team with experience managing three huge enterprises, is available here.

“At Cisco, we are reimagining the Mac experience to support, engage, and empower employees to do their best work, and we appreciate offerings like Jamf Pro as we’ve rolled out our robust employee choice program to our global, hybrid workforce,” said Previn.

When given that choice, 60% of Cisco employees use a Mac today, with 24% switching to Mac from PC when they upgrade their devices. In addition to that, 88% of employees coming from companies Cisco acquires are already using Macs, he said.

Significant productivity benefits
That’s great from an employee choice point of view. At Cisco, team members using both a Mac and an iPhone had an 83% satisfaction rating with IT. It is clear that Mac adoption is growing.

But what benefits might other companies see by making the move? Previn shared Cisco data that showed sales teams using Macs outperform their PC counterparts, with 9.8% more deals created, 10.9% more bookings achieved, and 9.9% faster times to close a deal.

Software engineers generate nearly 11.5% more code when using a Mac, he said.

The existence of these benefits is not new. He identified similar benefits while leading the Mac transition at IBM, when he said: “Now, I don’t know if better employees want Macs, or giving Macs to employees makes them better. You got to be careful about cause and effect — but there seems to be a lot of corroborating evidence that says you want to have a choice program.”

The visible security benefits
Security is essential, particularly at a huge networking company such as Cisco. And Apple security tends to lead the industry. Does this show up when using Macs in business?

It does. Previn said that across the tens of thousands of Cisco employees, Mac users experience almost five times fewer cyberthreats and nine times fewer virus issues than PCs.

Many companies face challenges convincing staffers to adopt biometric security. But once you get people working with Macs, Previn found that 89% of his employees were using that kind of security, compared to just 29% of PC users.

(He noted that Windows users described the experience of setting up Windows Hello as “complicated,” adding that people were concerned at the security of their information when they do use it. This was not a challenge with Apple’s Touch ID.)

A strong cost argument to switch
Previn has famously said that Macs are a lot less expensive in the long run, despite the initial cost. This was certainly his experience at IBM. It is also his experience at Cisco.

Previn told JNUC that a Mac is actually $148-$395 less expensive to run than a Windows PC at Cisco over three years, depending on the hardware model. What that means is that once you consider software, support, and other capital costs, the Mac works out to be a better deal, despite the feeling that they cost more to purchase.

These TCO economies are wide and reflect all the many costs that contribute to fleet management. Take software updates, for example. He noted that the process of upgrading PCs to Windows 11 across the company had to be staggered over six-months. With macOS Ventura, it took just one. That alone cuts tech support costs.

Cause and effect?

Previn also said that at Cisco, it takes 33% fewer engineers to manage the Macs.

Breaking down the prejudice
We’ve all encountered people who continue to believe there are tasks Windows PCs can do that Macs cannot. That may even sometimes be true, particularly when handling legacy applications. But most of the time this is not actually the case, said Previn.

He explained that while some people still believe the Mac won’t run the software they need, in his experience this is not the case. Just because some people still think that way, doesn’t make it true, and the benefits of migration justify the need to overcome such resistance.