With Apple set to release the universal beta of macOS 13 “Ventura” and iOS / iPadOS 16 sometime in July, it’s inevitable that some business users will want to see what’s coming. The common IT response is to try to block users from using beta software, but it may not be the most convenient way to handle what’s coming.
In fact, you can actually make these betas – and interested early adopters – work for you
The developer beta of the new OS was released on Monday after the keynote speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. The public betas that follow will be effective for a manufacturer like Apple to speed up the response and release bug fixes during the development process. It can also be exciting for users who want to try new features of an upcoming OS before everyone else gets their hands on them. (The final release for all these OSes will not be available until this fall.)
But they pose an obvious challenge to IT, especially if beta testers install pre-release software on their primary devices that they use for work. Bugs, problems with existing apps, and confusion about new or modified functionality are often part of the beta-testing experience. So users who install unsupported software on work devices can support calls and employee downtime if they can’t access basic tools.
Remind beta testers that they are installing pre-release software
Keep in mind that since mobile OS has moved the upgrade process to most users, you probably won’t be able to stop everyone, especially if they have it installed on a device of their own.
The best part of the advice here is that users wishing to sign up as a beta tester should be advised that they should do so using a secondary device instead of a critical one and one dependent for personal work.
It is important to create a short message that actually describes the challenges they may face in a friendly, consultative manner but does not exclude those who want to be part of the beta program. Explain that, yes, they can use the new features before anyone else – but there are also challenges that can affect their ability to work when installed on their primary device. And be sure to note the potential impact of personal tasks that they rely on for that device to accomplish.
Turn the beta tester for your convenience
Like most early adopters, many of these beta testers will probably have some technical knowledge, although their intelligence may vary. As a result, most companies will face a public beta at some point this summer. Ideally, it will be on a secondary device, although some people will probably still install it on their primary device.
You can actually hire these users as support partners.
One of the challenges of today’s landscape is that it is generally expected that IT departments are ready to walk the door of new technology on the day of its official release. This means you now have a limited window of opportunity to test them, to test enterprise and core third-party apps with them, and to build a knowledge base on issues that your support teams may encounter.
All of this is a lengthy order to stop tensions with existing staff at intervals of a few months and all of which require a beta test. If you hire beta users, they can do a lot of that testing for you. They can see which apps have problems, which workflows need to be changed, and report any general support issues. This gives IT a greater ability to prepare both for updating apps and for developing support and user-oriented resources.
The approach requires some change of culture for many organizations. IT workers need to build a close working relationship with these users and actively provide their input, advice and feedback.
On the other hand, it makes it easier to prepare for new technologies and allows IT to be better prepared when those technologies are officially unveiled. It builds a close relationship between IT and employees who want to use the latest technology. In the process, it can help you deal with any shadow IT operations running across the organization – or at least help you identify them – because people who want to try out a beta are probably the same people who will actively install the tool or report IT. Service without annoyance.
Of course, this does not mean that everyone should be allowed to try beta software – and you should not ignore the testers you hire. Nor does it mean that IT workers should ignore betas themselves (ideally, they will use developer beta instead of public).
But embracing public betas from Apple could give IT a leg up on what’s coming this fall – if you can build a trusting working relationship between everyone involved.
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