As use of Apple products expands in the enterprise, IT managers say Apple's interest in helping them comes up short. It can even be a little strange.
Take the case of Debra Jensen, the CIO of Charlotte Russe, a clothing retailer, with more than 500 physical stores. She had to be "nominated" to attend an Apple briefing to learn about the vendor's products.
"That was a new experience, to be nominated to be sold to," said Jensen, who said she didn't go to the briefing. Apple really doesn't reach out to her, and she suspects it's because her firm isn't a large user of Apple products. (The retailer uses iOS products, iPhones and iPads in the office.) But, still, said Jensen, "it would just be nice if they were at least interested."
Jensen, who was on a CIO panel at the MacIT conference, expressed a view not uncommon here. As Apple gains enterprise traction through deployment of its mobile devices as well as its Mac OS systems, user expectations for Apple are growing as well.
Apple does offer AppleCare for Enterprise that promises "IT department-level coverage." But users are seeking more. They want Apple to help them understand how its products will ultimately impact, as well as integrate, into their environments.
When Apple killed its Xserve server line about five years ago, that was taken as a sign by Aaron Gette, the CIO of Bay Club Co., that Apple didn't see itself gaining a lot of traction in the enterprise. The decision to stop selling the server made sense, but he believes that Apple should embrace the fact that enterprises are accepting iOS devices and "help us figure out the solutions."
"There is so much more that Apple can be doing in building relationships," said Gette. Bay Club runs a network of resorts and country clubs with more than 85,000 members.
Stuart Appley, the CIO and senior vice president of Shorenstein Properties, which owns and operates office and residential properties, said Apple's product support is "still not the same thing" as the company's directly reaching out. The questions Apple can be asking of customers, he said, include: "How do we partner with you? How do we make it simple?"
In fairness, it's worth noting that Apple isn't alone for being a little distant in its communications with customers. With Google office products, for instance, "it's kind of self-serve," said Jensen.