Fletcher Previn, CIO of Cisco, talks about leading a large Mac program at the organization.

Sep 22 2023
Digital Workspace

JNUC 2023: How One CIO Deployed Macs in the Enterprise

Cisco’s Fletcher Previn shares his tips for driving organization wide change.

Managing an enterprisewide Apple environment is no easy feat, and it becomes even more complicated when a CIO’s goal is to get more Macs into employees’ hands. Cisco CIO Fletcher Previn has successfully led two enterprise-level Mac programs — first at IBM and now at Cisco — and spoke at the 2023 Jamf Nation User Conference about his experiences and the lessons learned along the way.

Cisco’s IT team supports approximately 137,000 employees worldwide, doing business in nearly 100 countries, Previn said. Today, the Mac fleet at Cisco covers 60,000 employees, which Previn says is around 60 percent of the company. Eighty-eight percent of employees from companies that Cisco has acquired are already using Macs, and 24 percent of PC users have chosen to switch to a Mac when it is time to upgrade. 

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Challenges and Opportunities When Switching to Apple Devices

Previn leads the company’s Mac at Cisco program, which aims to get Apple devices to employees who want them.

“We spend a lot of time actually thinking about IT and technology as a driver or an enabler of culture,” Previn said. “Your culture is the only unique thing that you have. Over time, people steal your technology — or they try to — but it's pretty hard to steal somebody's culture.”

The goal, Previn says, is for employees who have Apple devices in their personal lives to reap those same efficiencies in their work lives.

“If you think about culture being a function of how work gets done, the shortest path to engaging employees is what's in their hand or what's on their desk,” he said. “And, so, how well we're doing our jobs and delivering IT services to our people is not trivial. It's actually core to creating an environment where talented people want to work, and enabling people to do their best work and to just take friction out of the system.”

He acknowledged that there are finance and procurement hurdles to pass in order to get these devices to employees. IT departments also must consider employee onboarding, provisioning, support, device management and lifecycle management.

Tools built into the Jamf platform help with some of these tasks. Zero-touch cloud-based enrollment takes some of the burden off of IT teams looking to get devices to employees quickly and easily.

Instead of focusing on the cost of the devices themselves, Previn and his team built a total-cost-of-ownership calculator that considers the entire lifecycle of the assets.

“Two-thirds of the cost of an asset in the enterprise over three or four years is in the operating and maintenance of it,” he said. “These things just break less often, and they seem to require less support. They're easier to use.”

These facts, combined with other cost efficiencies — such as eliminating third-party apps that can be replicated within the Mac OS — made a compelling case for offering Apple devices to employees who prefer them.

LEARN MORE: Find out how a modernized digital experience improves hybrid work.

Cisco’s Hybrid Worker Bundle Makes Remote Work Easy

Remote work is a valuable part of company culture at Cisco, where Previn says the mission is to “enable people to do the best work of their lives.”

When Previn first joined the company, he was given what Cisco called the Cisco Virtual Office, which extended the corporate network to employees’ home offices. The setup was cumbersome and complicated, and was “a lot to ask of your average employee,” Previn said.

“We thought, with the help of the team, let's put together a really great, highly designed experience for hybrid work,” he said. “How do we close the gap between being in the office and being remote in a way where people are not disadvantaged in their career? It's not a less-than experience, so how can we really think about that in a thoughtful way? So we came up with this thing called the Cisco IT Hybrid Worker Bundle.”

The package, built like a layer cake, comes with a new hire’s employee badge at the top, followed by a Mac, a keyboard, a trackpad and a Cisco security applicance and wireless access point. Employees hook the system up to their existing network, replacing their entire home network.

“We're then able to proactively monitor that environment for reliability and uptime performance, and protect the whole home and everything in it with a with a series of Cisco security software and services that would be appropriate for the biggest enterprises,” Previn said.

With an enterprise as large as Cisco’s, security is a main concern for the IT team.

“We have to be right all the time,” Previn said. “They just have to get it right once. A lot of time and attention go into making sure that we've got our trust boundaries shored up and that we understand our environment better than the adversaries that are trying to break into it.”

To keep up with our coverage of JNUC 2023, bookmark this page and follow us on X (formerly Twitter) at @BizTechMagazine or check out @JamfSoftware or #JNUC23

Photography by Amy McIntosh

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