Apple sees increased use in business, thanks to its success in the home

The iPhone's famed "Halo Effect" is creating opportunities for Apple in business. A recent report from Forrester Research shows that global business spending on Apple computers and tablets has increased dramatically in recent years, rising from 1 percent in 2009 to 8 percent in 2012, according to a new article in the Wall Street Journal (it's behind a paywall).

Familiarity with the iPhone - an increased demand to use them as corporate communication devices - enables employees to easily adjust their workflow to the iPad, which has seen a strong uptick recent years in businesses that have figure out ways to use them to help automate and simplify the way they do business.

The WSJ report cites examples ranging from an electric utility company that gives iPads to helicopter surveys to help them report on the condition of high-voltage power lines to retailers that have replaced cash registers with iOS devices, reducing customer wait times and increasing store profitability (retailers are finally catching on to how Apple's been doing it in its own retail stores for years).

The "Halo Effect" has been discussed for years. It's the idea that once you use one Apple device, you're more likely to shop for another, gradually replacing other products in your home with Apple branded ones. It's something Apple has known about for a while, and one of the reasons that their own retail stores have been so wildly succesful over the years: sell someone an iPhone and they come back for an iPad, or a Mac. Or, eventually, both.

I can tell you anecdotally that it's true. In the computer retail store I work at on the weekends, we get people all the time who have an iPhone and have decided to replace an aging PC with a Mac, or are interested in an iPad as their first tablet because of a good experience with an iPhone. The iPhone is the gateway drug to further Apple product ownership.

As corporate IT departments have loosened the reins on what sort of systems they'll support (the rise of the "Bring Your Own Device" phenomenon), businesses have seen an influx of Apple products because that's what their employees use. And they're finding uses for them, because the devices are versatile, support is widespread and they work.

It's a great turnaround for a company that has, historically, had an uneasy relationship with the business world. Apple has never really been a serious enterprise player, because they don't build much kit that's designed to be used in enterprise environments.

But the "enterprise" is a lot more than blade servers or beefy network routers. It's also about people, and the tools those people need to get their jobs done every day. And as more and more consumers depend on Macs and iOS devices in their home life, they're finding good ways to use Macs and iOS devices in business too.

It's said that a rising tide lifts all boats. I can't think of a better example of that than Apple's rise in business, thanks to its success in the consumer space.

Are Apple products allowed in your business? Has your company found innovative ways to use them? Or is it the same old thing? I want to hear from you! Please share your comments.

Source: Wall Street Journal