How to use ABM with Apple Configurator 2

1st March 2021
Apple devices for ABM

When you purchase new Apple devices through Apple Business Manager, they are automatically registered in your ABM portal.

However, you might have older devices, or BYOD (bring your own device) situations, where you need to add additional hardware to Apple Business Manager and your MDM solution.

For these scenarios, you can use Apple Configurator 2 with Apple Business Manager.

What Is Apple Configurator 2?

Apple Configurator 2 is a macOS app that helps you to deploy hardware such as iPads, iPhones, Apple TVs etc.

Unlike Apple Business Manager, which can do this remotely, Apple Configurator 2 works manually.

Using the Apple Configurator 2 app you will be able to update software on devices, install apps and export information.

While it is not as seamless as Apple Business Manager, which has increased functionality and can fully set up devices remotely, Apple Configurator 2 will be useful for businesses who need to manually register older devices into their ABM portal.

Benefits of Apple Configurator 2

It is simple and intuitive to use Apple Configurator 2 and Apple Business Manager to easily distribute apps from the app store.

Apple Configurator 2’s Prepare Assistant allows businesses to quickly configure, enrol and supervise a large group of devices in your MDM solution.

The Apple Configurator 2 app can activate devices with no internet connection, so long as they are hooked up to a Mac with a connection. Businesses can, therefore, fully set up devices with all the necessary apps and settings without the hardware requiring connection to their Wi-Fi or any cellular networks.

Just as in Apple Business Manager, Apple Configurator 2 displays device information, including operating system versions, serial numbers, IDs, addresses, capacity, and log messages.

The big benefit of using Apple Configurator 2 with Apple Business Manager for companies is that you can add iPhones and iPads to ABM using Apple Configurator 2, regardless of where the devices were purchased.

How to Assign Devices Added from Apple Configurator 2 to Apple Business Manager

If you need to manually add some older devices or BYOD into ABM using Apple Configurator 2, it is very straightforward.

There are actually two methods for using the app to add hardware into your ABM portal depending on your circumstances.

Method 1

The first method involves the end user completing the enrolment of the device. This approach makes sense if your workers are using their own devices, which you would like synched to your ABM portal and MDM.

This is a smart choice for many businesses who currently have staff working from home during the pandemic. If employees are using their own devices, you may require some additional controls over certain app usage and data.

If you are using this option, do NOT select the presented option “Activate and complete enrolment”.

The result is that the device is left at the Setup Assistant stage and your employee will complete the enrolment. It is the best solution if you have a new or existing device that requires end user authentication in order to add the device into your MDM.

Method 2

Alternatively, you can select the option “Activate and complete enrolment” if you have an existing device that is already managed by your MDM. This approach will make the device setup easier for your end user and they can start using it straight away. It is the best option if your business is buying a new work device for that employee.

To perform either of the enrolment methods you will require a MacOS computer with Apple Configurator 2 installed and a cable to connect the device to your Mac. This makes it a manual not a remote set up.

We recommend using Apple Business Manager for setting up devices remotely and safely during COVID, however, with certain BYOD and older Apple devices you might need to utilise the Apple Configurator 2 app.

After any device is successfully added by Apple Configurator 2, you can find it in your ABM portal in a group named “Devices added by Apple Configurator 2”. This should be located in the Devices section in Apple Business Manager.

Once you have located the manually added device in this section, you will be able to assign the device to one of your MDM servers if it is not already enrolled.

After the device is added to the MDM server, any settings assigned by Apple Configurator 2 are no longer used for enrolment and you can treat the device like any other in your MDM server and ABM portal. It can be managed in exactly the same way as your newer devices.

If you cannot see the newly added devices by Apple Configurator 2 simply refresh the list of devices in your MDM solution and they should then appear.