Mac@IBM, Zero to 30,000 in 6 Months

by Volker Weber

To much fanfare from the crowd, Previn said that IBM is deploying 1,900 Macs per week and currently have 130,000 Macs and iOS devices in the hands of users. And all of these devices are supported by a total of 24 help desk staff members, meaning that each staff member effectively supports 5,375 employees. One stat that particularly stood out was that 5% of Mac users call the help desk, compared to 40% of PC users. This shows how simple it is for the staff at IBM to use the Mac platform, and reflects the hard work the team has done to make the experience seamless.

Maybe there is little bit of b/s detection in order here. Within one sentence we go from 30k Macs to 130k Macs and iOS devices. That would mean IBM has 30k Macs and 100k iPhones and iPads. Both are impressive numbers. Let's assume that the brightest and boldest are more inclined to make a move to a new platform and that 5% number makes a lot more sense. And about those 40% of users calling the help desk, are those all Windows problems?

An interesting thing I found about the IBM guy is that we know his mother.

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At around 380.000 employees world wide (according to Bloomberg), and 130.000 Apple devices, I'd say it's not just the brightest and boldest that have moved. Pretty impressive support statistic.

(Not sure why IBM and Bloomberg's employee count should be so different, but even if we take 500.000 employees, it's still not just the brightest who have migrated.)

John Keys, 2015-10-15

You are falling into the same trap. 30k have moved to a Mac, not 130k.

Volker Weber, 2015-10-15

Do these macs have Lotus Notes installed on them #humor

Bruce Elgort, 2015-10-15

Only if they want to.

Volker Weber, 2015-10-15

I was referring to the drop in help desk calls ;-)

Bruce Elgort, 2015-10-15

The iPhones and iPads are also being supported by the same team. Or does no one ever have a problem using these? If the users are only using them to play Candy Crush, Ok. But you can certainly do more with them than make phone calls and play games, so they are also going to generate support cases.

"Previn noted that the average is 1:242. And IBM is currently hovering around 1:5,400 for their Mac users." That's still a much better ratio.

John Keys, 2015-10-15

John, if you mix in support cases for 100k BlackBerrys with 30k Windows machines to prove your point, would that make you happy? I have seen too many presentations from project managers to just swallow the b/s.

Assume you have 500k bicycles and now you bought 30k brand new bicycles from a different vendor. They are more expensive but you get fewer incidents like misaligned transmissions, worn out brakes, creaky gears, burn-out light bulbs than from your existing fleet of bicycles that are up to five years old, while the new ones are less than six months old. When you get this presentation, would you have any questions?

Volker Weber, 2015-10-15

Forget whether 130.000 devices or 30.000 macs have been migrated. I'm not interested in the migration statistics.

The interesting stat is that the ratio for _MACS_ (which for me does not include phones and tablets) is 1:5400, compared to an industry recommendation of 1:70 and an actual 1:242.

John Keys, 2015-10-15

Yes, really impressive, isn't it? When everybody has migrated, IBM only needs 70 support staff for the whole organization. Can you believe it? Great. I can't.

Volker Weber, 2015-10-15

In fact, having just checked the maths, the quoted statistic in the article does include the phones and tablets. For 30.000 Macs, the factor is 1:1250. Not sure it's b/s however, I could still believe a Mac needs significantly less effort to configure and support than a PC. I guess the motto is: Never trust a statistic you haven't forged yourself...

John Keys, 2015-10-15

That's the spirit.

John, I am little bit unfair to you, because you can only take those numbers as gospel. But did you know, that IBM has had a large Mac population before, without any official support? This population has organized their own support through social media within IBM. They don't need to call for support. They are their own support.

Volker Weber, 2015-10-15

Thanks Volker!
Well, that's still a good thing even if the stats are loaded due to the informal support. Imagine the problems you would have trying to run an informal Windows network of PCs inside Apple. Impossible. Just kidding... ;-)

John Keys, 2015-10-16

@Bruce Elgort: Yes, they have Notes installed and use it.
From my own experience I can say that Macs require less support. Main reason? Dont know, it just works. First time setup is easier and even the hardware seems to have fewer problems

Th. Hampel, 2015-10-16

No we've got the reason IBM was surprisingly quick releasing a 64 Bit Notes client for OS X El Capitan.

Oliver Regelmann, 2015-10-16

...and if you're British and a certian age you know his father too. :-)

John Lindsay, 2015-10-16

If a IBM employee decides to have not Notes on his Mac, what else does he use? POP3? IMAP4? I am still struggling to get rid of Notes from my Mac while not having to exchange the backend also... ideas welcome.

Peter Meuser, 2015-10-17

IBM is moving all mailboxes into the cloud and enable the Verse web interface. Like everybody else, they have yet to move apps.

Maybe you should also move your mailbox to the cloud.

Volker Weber, 2015-10-17

Employees are given the choice of using a Mac when their workstation is due for replacement, so the first group of new Mac users is fairly random and shouldn't affect statistics.
A lot of effort has been put in providing a good online help system and there are regular walk-in sessions organised for ‘switchers’. That probably helps reducing the calls to the help desk, but to be honest, the installation/configuration process to get started with a Mac at IBM really is very smooth and once you are up and running, everything just works.

Davy Vanherbergen, 2015-10-17

"the installation/configuration process to get started with a Mac at IBM really is very smooth"

I think that is the secret sauce here. For myself a Mac is much simpler than a Windows machine. But the Mac camp currently seems to think that you can just drop a ton of Macs on an organization and everything is going to be simple. That's certainly not the case.

Volker Weber, 2015-10-17

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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