Apple products have been spreading through offices like wildfire, driven largely by iPhone and iPad popularity. But a new report from Forrester shows that consumer interest in Apple products is translating into an increased use of Macs at work too.

The New York Times explained that Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research, decided to mount this research after observing the “‘air travel and Starbucks effect — a sense he got, while spying more and more Apple icons among road warriors and $4 latte-drinkers, that usage of the company’s products skewed toward more affluent workers.”

The report, released Jan. 26, shows that 21 percent of global information workers now use at least one Apple product for work. More interestingly, 46 percent of enterprises with 1,000 or more workers are now issuing Macs to at least some employees for business use. IT decision makers forecasted that they would increase the number of Macs they issue by 52 percent in 2012.

These are impressive inroads for a computer manufacturer that has consistently focused on the consumer, rather than business market. And it demonstrates the power of the BYOD movement to transform technology throughout an organization, right down to the desktops and laptops issued by the company. IT has for years shunned anything other then Windows-based PCs and laptops for business use. But this may be changing.

Forrester’s report shows that enthusiasm for Apple products is being driven by specific groups of employees: bosses, highly compensated and young professionals:

  • 41 percent of employees who are director level or higher use at least one Apple product for work, compared with 27 percent of managers and 14 percent of workers.
  • 43 percent of employees making over $150,000 a year use at least one Apple product for work, compared to 27 percent of those making $100,000 to $149,999, 23 percent of those making $50,000 to $99,999 a year, and just 19 percent of those making below $50,000.
  • 28 percent of employees ages 18-24 and 25 percent of employees ages 25-34 use an Apple product at work. This percentage steadily drops as employees age, to just 13 percent for employees age 55 or over

That young employees are leading the push to include Apple products among those supported by the enterprise is no surprise. But the popularity of these products among company leaders may help explain how quickly Apple is taking hold in the typical business. As the New York Times explains, the high percentage of top earners having Apple products “may be partly because highly compensated executives simply have more money to spend on Apple products.” But IT’s willingness to support Apple at work could be because such employees “have more leverage to persuade their information technology departments to support Apple products.”

Who is driving support of Apple products at your office: the average worker or company leadership? Will you issue Macs this year alongside traditional Windows PCs?

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