Harnessing the power of Jamf Now in a Small-Medium Business (SMB) | JNUC 2021
Rick: Hi, everybody, thanks for joining me. My name's Rick Saville. I'm the director of a company called Abbeydale Building Environment Consultants. And thanks for joining me today for this session about harnessing the power of Jamf Now in a small-medium business.
So quickly just kind of go over what we're going to cover. So I'll give you a brief overview of Abbeydale Building Environment Consultants-- who we are, briefly what we do, my kind of background in the company and my current role. We'll then launch into what I call the Brave New World, which is kind of what I wanted to bring about by sort of modernizing the company and my kind of thoughts and aspirations there. We'll then come to the superhero that was Jamf Now, that really made all that stuff possible. And then we'll sort of briefly look at the onwards and upwards and how we are looking at taking things forward into the future, on the back of everything that we've done today anyway.
So we are a small team of what's called geotechnical and environmental consultants. We sometimes actually get branded all into one package as geoscience consultants. I never feel like I do a great job of explaining what we do, but I will give it a go anyway. So kind of, in a nutshell, we cover everything to do with the ground.
So if somebody wants to build something, say, it's a new housing development, a block of flats, a new commercial building, say, a warehouse, a new school, anything like that, we basically investigate the ground conditions there and then give two sides of things. We give the structural engineer the information that they need to build things and kind of try and rule out any risks that might come up during the construction process, which most--actually, most kind of costs and expected costs are to deal with the ground. So the more that people know up front, and the more that we can kind of predict and make the unknowns into knowns, then the better.
The other side of things that we'll look at, the environmental side, is also looking at any past contamination that might be there. So certainly, in West Yorkshire where we're based, there's been a lot of previous industry, lots of mills, lots of works, things like that, that have actually left a lot of contamination behind. And then we need to know what we what we need to do, or what the client needs to do, sorry, in order to make things safe at the end of the day, when they've built their houses, or redeveloped it for a school, or an office, or whatever it's going to be.
We also work quite closely with a lot of local authorities in and across Yorkshire where we're based. So we tend to get involved with them in the highways department. So if there's a new road to be built, we'll actually investigate that and then help with the design of that. But also, if there are things like landslips that affect roads, or if a retaining wall falls down, or something like that, and they need to know what to do to remediate that and to repair the structures, we get quite heavily involved with that, too. So it's quite a nice mix of things.
I'll just give you a little bit of my background. I started fresh from my degree with Abbeydale in 2007. And I worked with Abbeydale until 2014. So it was the end of 2014 so nearly eight years. And then I moved on, and I've actually come full circle and come back to Abbeydale.
I rejoined in 2018 after getting my chartership as a chartered geologist from the Geological Society of London with a view actually to taking over the company from the current owner, so I became a director in 2020. And I'm am sort of progressively becoming more and more involved and increasing my shares in the company as time goes by. Part of the reason I came back to Abbeydale is that I've always loved working in a small-medium business, the environment there, being part of a close team, being a name and a face, not just a number as the kind of cliché goes.
And the great thing is you actually get involved with a heck of a lot more, not just the technical side of things, but actually the kind of running of the company. And the flip side to that, of course, is that you often have to do a lot of things with far less resources than you would have in a larger organization. Certainly, if you think of enterprise size companies that have got dedicated teams that do specific roles, but you don't tend to get involved with everything. You're a bit more pigeonholed, if you'll excuse the term.
So I knew when I came back to Abbeydale in 2018 that there would be quite a bit to do, and I like a challenge. Some might call me a glutton for punishment, but I knew when I left that the technology that was being used was actually quite old, quite--very outdated in some cases. both in terms of the hardware-- there were multiple ages of computers with multiple different operating system versions. And that's kind of before we talk about the software, which was equally as varied. There were multiple computers that only had access to certain software, multiple sort of different versions of the same software across the platform. So it was really quite inefficient.
And often--dare I say this actually-- there was only actually one computer that had access to the internet. It was all done on a local network and a local server outside, that's it. If you wanted to send an email, and someone else was already on the internet computer, you were kind of waiting an awful long time sometimes. And sometimes that can be the difference between issuing a report to the client or them having to wait till the end of the day for it, which, yeah, I've kind of forgotten just how grating that can be, to be perfectly honest.
But when I came back, I knew that that would be kind of my primary aim to kind of bring everything together and make it more standardized and consistent, and a bit more harmonious, to be perfectly honest. Because I've often found that if you feel like you're fighting against something, it doesn't inspire you in the way that it should do. The other thing that actually was one of the biggest barriers was that because people were having to maintain their own devices and technology, there was quite a lot of pressure on them to do that. If an OS update wanted to come through, they had to manually install that. If new software became available, that was a manual install job with a CD, or, dare I say, for some software, a floppy disk, which again just takes away the time that someone needs to be technically kind of productive and also just made it a headache, to be perfectly honest.
So I'm kind of a long-term Apple user for the mere fact that I've always enjoyed using them. So quite simply put, I've just never bothered to look at anything else. So I thought, well, what I wanted to do rather than using technology and devices that people are used to is actually look at how we could bring what we--or what I and what we enjoy using from home into the workplace. And the kind of overall aim of that was to make things easier, more synchronized, more consistent.
You know, as the kind of bullet point says there, when things are easy to use, it often results in happy workers, which at the end of the day, is what I was aiming for. But I also knew that by doing that, and particularly by moving from a sort of Windows-based system to an Apple-based system was a massive change. And I knew that that would be equally as big a challenge as doing that. So what I kind of knew that I had to have was a system that allowed one person, i.e. me,
at least in the first instance, to be able to manage all the corporate devices and to take a lot of the pressure off my other colleagues and employees to actually have to manage the devices. But it also had to be done in a way that was secure and that protected the corporate data, because one thing with opening up your devices, particularly to the internet, is that that obviously brings a lot of inherent risk with it, too, that perhaps wasn't there with a kind of local setup when I first came back. So I'm very, very humble when I say this, that I have no professional IT experience at all. And what's written there in brackets-- not even a little bit. I like technology. I'm quite good with technology, not to polish my halo too much.
But I think because I enjoy it, I take an active interest in getting to know it and how it works, and kind of things naturally progress from there. So I knew what I wanted to do. I just thought, well, although we're a small-medium business, I'm quite comfortable as a consumer using Apple products. But how does that kind of then translate to a workplace setting? And I thought, you know what, the best people that know the devices the best of all are Apple themselves.
So I booked initially an appointment, and I've probably had umpteen phone calls and meetings with them since then. But I thought I'll go straight to my local Apple business team, tell them what I want to do and get their input on it really, not just from what devices would be the best, but the best way to actually implement it and to actually manage it going forward. Because you know, buying a suite of new Macs is one thing. Rolling them out to employees in a way that's easy and efficient and effective is another thing entirely. I also wanted to find a way to actually keep the devices up to date, and secure, and really with a view to being able to use them from anywhere on the planet, and I had to be able to do that from anywhere. If I was going to be the person that effectively took on that role of managing and maintaining them, It had to be something I could do when I wasn't in the office, either if I was out on site, or if I was remote, or even if I was on holiday and a problem came up.
So it really wanted to be something zero touch so that things were as hassle-free as possible for colleagues going forward. And it really was at that point that I humbly went up and said, "Look, "how do we actually do this? "I know it's possible, I know that "big enterprise level companies do it. "How do I do that "in a small business setting "that doesn't take up all of my time doing that?" And I was really, really shocked, in a good way, at how easy it was to do that. And that really is where the kind of headline and the last slide of Jamf Now saves the day came from. So it was actually the Apple business team themselves that showed me Jamf Now.
I'd never heard of MDM before I went to them, and again, I have no shame in saying that. And the things I particularly loved about it were two real key things. One, it was specifically meant for Apple devices. It wasn't looking at trying to encompass every device you might actually use.
But I was happy with that because I, again, as a consumer, I'm wholly in the apple ecosystem, from start to finish, in terms of devices, from iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Macs. And I was happy with that because with that kind of walled garden, as a term is, comes a heck of a lot of integration and collaboration. And the other great thing that I really liked about Jamf Now is it was actually made for small-medium businesses specifically.
It wasn't using a smaller-scale version of an enterprise piece of software. It was actually designed with small-medium businesses in mind. And really, a lot of its key benefits come around that because it's not relying on you having in-depth IT experience or knowledge.
And you can see from the little thumbnail on the right hand side there, it's a really nice, simple, minimalistic, sort of dashboard kind of experience that really lets you pick out the key information you need. So on there, you can see that we've--and this is actually a snapshot from our Jamf Now system. So it's kind of a live case study, if you will. You can see we've got device names for each device that we've got. We can see who the device has been assigned to as well as the device name, so you're not having to flick through a list of actually who is ABEC 1 assigned to.
I can see it's assigned to my colleague Glenn straight away. And the other great thing I liked about Jamf Now from the get-go was that you can actually assign apps straight to it from Jamf to each device, which for me was great. That way I know that colleagues were getting the software that they needed. They weren't having to move around and find it anywhere on the App Store even, for example. It meant that any app that's on the App Store we could actually use, which again was a really key benefit for me from the offset, looking into this, thinking of, well, what can we actually use that kind of takes some of the rules that the Windows-based software was doing but takes it better actually.
As well as doing that, you can also assign what are called blueprints. So not just singular apps at a time, you can actually create a blueprint with a multitude of different apps that you want to be on that device. You can also then, to add to the mix, you can assign Wi-Fi configurations, email configurations for iMac, things like that, and then literally push it straight to that device. And because it links in with Apple Business Manager, which is Apple's kind of business ordering platform and administration platform, you can actually do this to devices. You can buy a device for Apple-- it appears in Apple Business Manager-- you then link it to Jamf, and then you can tell it to assign a blueprint to it. So that by the time that device arrives at the office, or even a colleague's home, it is literally ready to go.
The employee can open up the nice, shiny Mac box or iPad box, whichever, turn the device on. Everything is then pushed straight to that device ready to go. It really needs none, or at kind of worse, very, very little input from the end user. And I think it's fair to say at that point really, really just fell in love with the whole prospect because I thought that's going to allow me to do exactly what I wanted to do.
And that really made my brave new world that I envisaged a reality. And I just couldn't believe that it was so easy to kind of do that and to implement it. It was one of those times where I thought it sounds a bit too easy, actually. But I can promise you, it works in theory as well. So I thought it'd be worth-- we've seen on the previous slide, we've got a kind of dashboard view of all the corporate devices that we've got as kind of a snapshot.
But actually, we might want to nitpick a bit deeper into a specific device. So from the dashboard view, you can click on each individual device and then get, again, quite a nice, easy-to-look-up snapshot of that device, who it's assigned to, what OS version it's running, if you've got certain security-- security features added, when it last checked in to the Jamf Now server, when it was last synced effectively. And again, the kind of beauty of that-- it provides so much information really quickly. You can actually--because one of the biggest problems before was that operating systems weren't getting updated. And you can imagine, perhaps when you when you're local, not connected to the internet, it's still not great. It's still one of the things that drove me to insanity, to be perfectly honest.
But you can actually see if someone hasn't updated their OS, and through Jamf Now, you can actually update it for them. It's not something I ever pushed on someone there and then because I realized that it often takes half an hour of time away. But you can say to that person "Look, let me know when you're finished.
"I'll push it from here, "sit with it when it's installed. Just turn off your device." Or if it did get particularly critical, you can push it straight to that device from Jamf. And that point I thought, wow, that's absolutely exactly what I was after in terms of allowing me to manage the corporate devices, to manage them really securely because Jamf Now also lets you block a device if it gets lost or stolen, literally to the point where that device can't be used until you unlock it, which again, I thought in the kind of wonderful world of GDPR in the EU, that was really important so that clients knew that their data was always protected. Even if it did get into the wrong hands, as soon as we were alerted to that, I could go into Jamf Now, one centralized platform, and lock the device down so that none of that data could then get into the wrong hands.
The other beauty kind of thing that Jamf Now allows us to do, as well as doing OS updates, you can actually do app updates, too. I haven't nitpicked into the screen that kind of shows that. But you basically click on the, sorry, the app tab on there, the app deployment tab. And it then brings up a list of all the apps that are on that device.
You can, like I say, you can update them from there. If it's software that you no longer need, you can actually recall it too. So that a colleague isn't then faced with loads, and loads, and loads of different outdated pieces of software. Which, again, when I first came into this was actually one of the major problems, that if a software, you didn't want to use it anymore, you had to remove it from every single device manually. And you can also remove it from a blueprint, too, which again, I was just absolutely blown away by how easy that was to implement. So that's kind of a really quick snapshot of Jamf Now.
It really is, in my eyes, the absolute superhero from a small business perspective. It lets you do everything that perhaps a team of people might otherwise have to do, or one person might spend an awful lot of time doing. And it lets you do that from one place.
It's an online powerful system. I can log in it when I'm at home, when I'm at the office, when I'm out and about and I've got my iPad. So it's no word of a lie to say it did exactly what I wanted it to do. And it's actually--since we rolled out these devices right at the start of 2019, it genuinely has given the team exactly what they need. They know that they don't have to update things themselves anymore.
It's done remotely. It's done without them having to have any input. It's given me personally the confidence in two respects.
One, as the person that's having to implement and oversee all this, I know that I can do everything that I need from Jamf Now. There are a few pieces of software that we have to download manually, but it certainly takes 99.9% of everything that we wanted to do into one place.
The other great thing is it's scalable. When we buy more devices, we just add them on to Jamf Now. We're not having to then worry about, oh, we've got ten devices, but what if you want an 11th one? It's no problem now, just straight to it.
If we buy it through Apple, and it gets added to our business manager, or if it's a bring your own device, we can add it to Apple Business Manager or Jamf through other means. So we've got that scope all the time. We know that we can look at any piece of software that's on the App Store. And as that changes, too, it's there, like Microsoft Office, that previously wasn't on the App Store.
When it is, you can then start to manage that through Jamf Now. And it's been my absolute godsend in terms of being like the administrator. But as a director, it's also give me confidence that our clients' data's safe, and that our data's safe, which again, I can't stress how important that was going into this. It's so easily adaptable, too.
I've mentioned--like, for example, we're going to be changing our broadband router in the next few weeks, or the next month. When we get the Wi-Fi information for that before I've even put that router in, I can add that Wi-Fi network to Jamf Now. It will push it to all the devices, I can change that, and then as soon as that's turned on and set up, they'll all connect back to it when they're in the office. Or the next time someone's in the office, it's already set up for them.
They're not having to then think, oh, I've got to add the Wi-Fi network to it. The other great thing is that a lot of our work is actually field-based. And we're looking at ways to implement technology into that to make things more efficient. The fact that we can manage iPads and iPhones using Jamf Now is perfect. We know that, again--and I've kind of used my work phone as a test case-- we can add the company email account to it, we can add apps to it. We can manage it in exactly the same ways that we would back in the office.
And that has been great, knowing that we've got that potential going forward. We're not actually having to change to a new piece of software. We're not having to upgrade to a different version of that to get that. We can literally just keep adding devices to it all the time. So it gives us the kind of ethos of sort of continuous self-improvement.
We're really not being held in any which way by the management system. It kind of allows us to grow, and it's always there to support us exactly as we need it. If I've not talked you all into submission already, if you're interested, we actually have done a case study that I did directly with Jamf. It's accessible via that link or via their case studies section on the Jamf website.
And I think I'll leave you in relative peace just with a quote, which is actually a quote from myself, and it's in that case study, is that I would genuinely recommend Jamf Now to anyone that will listen to me talk about it. And I'm happy to talk to anybody about it any point and again, go into a bit more detail if you want about how we use it and how it's helped us and how it continues to give me that confidence of growth and security. So, thank you ever so much for listening. If you've got any questions, feel free to put them into the chat, and I'm happy to answer them.
Thank you ever so much for listening.