Jamf CEO: 'Technology has become the entire employee experience'

COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation and the old ways are not coming back. “We’ve seen the greatest movement of the workforce into their homes in all of history,” said Jamf CEO Dean Hager as the enterprise vendor launches successful IPO.

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Reflecting Apple’s growing enterprise status, enterprise management software company Jamf this week succesfully issued an IPO. I spoke with CEO Dean Hager to discuss digital transformation and the acceleration of Apple's place in the enterprise.

Everyone who can now works from home

The worldwide move to support remote working has increased demand for products like those from Jamf as enterprises needed robust solutions to support their business.

“How long have you heard us talk about zero-touch deployment?” Hager asked. “I mean that was visionary six months ago and now it’s what is required.”

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across multiple industries. In healthcare, Hager noted previous work with Jacobs Medical Center to equip the hospital with iPads in 2016. This was unique at the time, yet during the crisis smartphones and tablets have become the only way doctors can visit patients for routine problems.

It’s the same in education, where mobile devices have more or less become the only way to deliver tuition to kids. “We were in the right place at the right time to be able to help these organizations through the pandemic,” said Hager.

Does he see these changes as a permanent thing? In a word, yes.

“I think the digital transformation that has happened in the last few months is here to stay," he said. "Now that people have gotten a taste of working from home, they will want to continue doing it. We think that this will become part of the new normal."

Work like the Jetsons

Jamf has been at the front of the Apple-in-the-enterprise curve for decades and now helps 40,000 businesses handle a growing fleet of 17 million Apple devices.

“...You have been on the forefront of understanding the movement of Apple into the enterprise now for quite some time,” Hager told me. “You get what IBM CIO Fletcher Previn meant when he said a couple of years ago when he asked when it became OK to live like the Jetsons at home but the Flintstones at work.”

Enabling enterprises to support Apple solutions at work helps change that situation, making it possible to live like the Jetsons at work, not just at home.

How COVID-19 impacted Jamf

This transformation has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted every business, including Jamf. “I've been running a business for four months and I haven't seen any of my employees face-to-face,” said Hager.

Jamf very quickly adopted remote working across its workforce as the pandemic began to bite, but had to delay its long-planned IPO. “We were planning on going earlier, but when the market became so volatile in March, we decided to delay a little while.”

It also changed the IPO process.

“You know, a year ago, investors would never have considered a virtual roadshow, but now they're forced into it and, lo and behold, it's pretty efficient,” he said.

Security is in the spotlight

COVID-19 has also given rise to more cybercrime. We’ve seen a wave of phishing attacks, malware distributions and sundry attempts as bad actors sought to exploit the opportunity within the chaos.

The security challenge has been intensified by rushed work-from-home deployments and lack of preparation for a new security permiter based outside of the enterprise network. “The security perimeter is no longer the network around the company,” Hager said.

“The security perimeter is a known identity of a person, and a safe protected device. If you have a known identity and a safe device, you should be able to access enterprise resources. Combine this with Jamf Protect and you’ve got a complete security ecosystem.”

(Jamf Protect is the company’s endpoint security solution for Macs.)

On the growing MDM market

Jamf is far from being the only provider of Apple device management solutions for enterprise, medical and education, but it has become one of the largest.

Apple generated some interest with its recent acquisition of MDM vendor Fleetsmith. Hager thinks this will be a good thing in that it means Apple will deliver more functionality for enterprises on a platform basis, which his company will be able to improve on.

“The bottom line is we embrace everything Apple does,” said Hager. "And we extend it further to create more industry solutions – that’s going to benefit Jamf and our customers.”

The core of the company vision aligns with Apple’s own. “Our founders had a vision for making people more effective, and as a result of making them more effective. It became more efficient because they got the right tool for the job,” Hager said.

On the future for Apple in the enterprise

As digital transformation accelerates, it is becoming clear that a one-size-fits-all approach is not enough to fully serve the diverse needs of modern business. Solutions must be more personalized to individual business needs – just like any consumer product.

There’s also growing recognition across most industries that digital transformation must be embraced -- and that this means giving employees more tech choice and working with them as if they are internal customers in order to boost staff retention and productivity.

These trends will only intensify, Hager believes.

“We’ve seen the greatest movement of the workforce into their homes in all of history,” Hager said. “Will this accelerate the consumerization of technology or decrease it?

“I think it will accelerate, because all of a sudden technology isn't just part of the employee experience, it is the entire employee experience.So employers are going to want to make it a good one.”

His company's accelerating share price suggests a lot of people agree.

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