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Integrating Macs Into Your Business Infrastructure

Published on Nov 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm in Tips & Tricks.

Mac desktop.jpgThis post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.

Go back eight years or so and you’d be hard pressed to find a Mac computer being used by a business. Apple products have long been viewed as consumer hardware, and if you found workers with Macs, they were the graphic designers, photographers and artists — you know, the creative folks.

Then in 2007 the iPhone came out. That got business owners into the Apple store, at least to consider options. A couple of upsells later and executives were walking out of the Apple store with an iPhone in one hand and a MacBook in the other, and wanting to integrate their new computers within their corporate environments.

Now, five years later, the share of Mac desktops in the business environment is rapidly growing. New college graduates are entering the workforce with little to no Windows experience. They expect to have Macs at their desks, and many companies are complying. Within our organization — where we let our employees choose — we have about a 50/50 Windows/Macs desktop environment.

While more and more companies are using Mac desktops, it’s still fairly common to run into some problems when integrating iOS within a largely Windows operation. If your users just need a Web browser, email and a calendar, it really shouldn’t make a difference. Beyond that, here are the top five hurdles that you’ll face:

Business applications

If your company depends on a line of business application — an accounting system, practice management system, etc. — it’s important to make sure there’s a fully featured Mac version of those apps.

Even if you are using a browser-based application (aka “in the cloud”), if you’re using Internet Explorer, you’ll need to confirm that the application supports other browsers. For example, the popular applicant tracking system Bullhorn runs only on Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Office

Most office workers are accustomed to the Windows version of Microsoft Office. The Mac version is a completely different software suite, written from the ground up by a dedicated Mac team at Microsoft.

If you’re a robust user of Microsoft Outlook or Excel, it can get messy. For example, in Outlook, if you need to view lots of other users’ calendars or inboxes, you won’t be able to. Many Excel features are dissimilar, as well. Microsoft Office for Mac didn’t even offer pivot tables until its latest version.

Printers

It’s a simple but important question: Do all of your organization’s printers have Mac printer drivers?

File sharing

Sharing files from a Mac is ever so slightly crippled on a Windows file server. This isn’t a problem if you’re sharing documents or small files. If you are going to be opening and manipulating very large files, such as videos or large photographs, you will run into some performance issues.

IT support

Much as the bulk of the business community grew up on the Windows platform; so did most IT support professionals. While this will probably change in the near future, many network and systems individuals are Windows specialists, and many IT companies don’t have a deep bench of Mac resources. At least initially, this can raise some support concerns for your organization, as well.