Note: This is a guest column by David Yoken, founder of Macuity, a Boston Apple consultancy, who discusses the joys of providing IT and repair services to machines that “just work.”
Just got off a call with an architectural firm for whom we set up a brand new server last week. The typical conversation I have with clients is amusingly formulaic, and this one was much of the same:
Me: How’s everything going with your new server?
Customer: It’s really wonderful. We haven’t had any problems, and the transition has been nearly seamless.
Me: Super! I’m glad things are working out. I suppose now would be a good time to talk about a service and maintenance contract and schedule for your new equipment.
Customer: Well, we probably can handle most everything on our own. Apple makes it so easy, so we’ll be fine!
Me: Oh, umm…, absolutely! How about remote monitoring or help desk services?
Customer: Yeah, sure, but you probably won’t hear from us much on that end either. I think we can take it from here, but thanks!
Back in 2006, in my infinite wisdom, I decide to start a company providing IT support services for Mac-based businesses in the Boston area. A friend of mine was a PC consultant, and his business was booming. In addition, the halo effect created by Steve Jobs’ masterful combination of iPod, iMac, and Apple Store over the past decade was spilling out all over the place. Everywhere I went, from airports to coffee shops to business conventions, I saw more and more laptops radiating their iconic Apple logo in luminescent splendor for all to see. I thought to myself, certainly there will be plenty of businesses switching to Mac who would need IT support. And since I’ve always loved working with Macs, and meeting new people, how in the world could I lose?
There was only one problem. What I forgot to build into my supposedly brilliant business plan was the fact that, by and large, Macs tend to just work. The reality is that Macs tend to cost less to support and manage compared to their PC brethren. I’ve known about this anecdotally for some time, and now there is a concrete evidence to back it up. Indeed, a study conducted by the folks at the Enterprise Desktop Alliance, who interviewed hundreds of IT administrators across the country, concluded that by and large, Macs are generally cheaper to manage than PCs in six of seven administrative IT categories. (Read about the full study here: Enterprise Desktop Alliance Study)
This study speaks to an idea that I’ve talked about for years with potential customers thinking of switching their offices from PC to Mac: Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). TCO is essentially a more accurate view of how much it really costs to own a computer over its normal shelf life. By and large, Macs are just cheaper to own than Windows-based computers. The only problem is that, in effect, the notion of TCO reduces the need for businesses like mine! What’s more, given the dearth of spyware, malware, and viruses affecting the Mac platform, maintenance of Mac networks require far less day-to-day resources. Even fairly complex management and administration can sometimes be handled by those with a little grit, determination, and a facility for technology, a category to which many of my clients feel they belong.
Ultimately (and sadly for me), the notion that Mac-based companies without full-time IT staff actually require substantial technical support from operations like mine has become more and more unrealistic. No wonder my PC consultant friend is running around like a clown on purpose and I sit in my office in desolate solitude.
So anyway, please ponder all of this, but don’t cry for me. I’ll be here at my office optimistically waiting for the phone to ring… Sometime would be great… Please… Anyone?… Maybe I’ll just go grab a beer with the Maytag repairman. It seems we both have time to kill.