In the world of business, with the notable exception of “creative” industries, IT is dominated by Microsoft Windows. Apple’s Mac enjoys niche success in art and media related circles, but hasn’t been able to crack into mainstream business use.
This is not for lack of trying. Apple’s website has a section devoted to how some businesses have switched to Macs and how they are using them to help run their businesses. I was delighted to find a page or two specifically about accounting firms, hoping to read some inspiring case studies.
One such study talked about a small, sole proprietor CPA firm in San Diego that was running exclusively on Macs. The main benefit the CPA cited for making the decision to use Macs was the lower total cost of ownership, from not having to spend money on maintenance.
“People say Macs cost more money than PCs. But Mac is really far more cost-effective over time, because there’s so much back-end cost in using PCs. Suddenly you’re bringing in consultants to battle viruses, or recover lost data, or troubleshoot network issues. So many businesses spend a fortune maintaining their PCs.”
That advantage, as well as some others, is highlighted in a recent opinion piece in Computerworld. More, after the jump.
In many ways, Mac OS X is an ideal platform for small businesses and offices. It is easy to install and set up, often requires little technical support to maintain, and remains free of many of the virus and malware problems that plague Windows PCs. All of this should be appealing for a business with anywhere from a handful to a few dozen employees that cannot afford full-time IT staff.
The article avoided talking about availability of engagement software, which I assume means there isn’t any. MYOB AccountEdge was the package used by the firm in the study, but accounting software is all well and good for business, but accounting firms require some specialized software.
Cowen’s firm offers a wide array of services, including tax preparation and planning, bookkeeping and accounting, compilations and reviews, financial statements, and business consulting.
So as long as you don’t require software to organize and manage large engagements like audits, it looks like Macs are making inroads into business use. But there may yet be a solution for the firm that has critical legacy software available only for Windows.
Apple’s recent switch to Intel chips means virtualization on OS X – running Windows and Windows apps inside the Mac operating system – is a viable way to ease the transition.
A recent surge in Macs as business machines can be attributed mostly to Apple’s transition to Intel processors and the fact that its hardware can now run Windows applications for those times when a comparable Mac-related product isn’t available. The ability to use Apple’s Boot Camp or one of the other virtualization tools to run Windows applications also helps stagger transition costs as businesses buy and migrate to Mac hardware and software.
Are there any firms using Macs to manage larger scale audits and assurance engagements? I’d love to find out, since that would be a pretty unique selling point in a firm. Would very much differentiate it from the competition.