Business PCs' New Era: 6 Trends - InformationWeek
Infrastructure // PC & Servers
07:06 AM

Business PCs' New Era: 6 Trends

Six factors are shaping the new multi-screen world of office computing.

corporate offices and Google's Chrome and Android-based models appear from Windows hardware partners like Dell and HP. Techaisle sees an opportunity for Chromebooks and Android-based PCs somewhere in the middle of the content consumption-interaction-creation spectrum, although Agrawal throws his hands up when asked to predict their impact on business purchasing decisions.

"There are analyst firms that have predicted the Chromebook market to reach anywhere from 6 million to 11 million [units sold annually] by 2016. That is a wide range," he said. Even at the high end, 11 million units would only represent around 4% of global PC shipments, Agrawal added, and there are a lot of factors that will push the needle between passing fad and business-ready device. Among them: What if Microsoft launched a "Bing-book"? What if Chromebooks become IT favorites as thin clients in virtualized environments? What if Android-based PCs win over the budget-conscious set? And how will Chromebooks evolve from the "cheap-and-simple" proposition they launched with?

5. More choices, tougher decisions
There's more choice than ever in the PC market, from "traditional" desktops and laptops, to two-in-ones or hybrids, to dumping the laptop altogether for an iPad or other tablet. That's a plus for buyers willing to do their homework. It might be less so for the vendors because buyers' purchasing decisions take longer, especially if the buyer has no brand loyalty.

"[The] massive increase in choices for IT [and] business buyers is a good thing, something for everyone, but also creates a longer purchase cycle unless a buyer is already committed to a PC OEM," Agrawal said. "If a buyer is committed to a PC OEM then the decision is made based on price, configuration, account management, and associated services."

6. More screens, more IT challenges
A recent Spiceworks survey found more than two-thirds of IT pros support at least two devices per employee in their organizations, and nearly as many expect that device-per-person ratio to grow in the next five years, thanks in part to wearables and the Internet of Things.

There's a price to pay for the multi-screen norm most workers already take for granted -- and we're not talking about the cost of the devices themselves, nor the software or data plans that make them work. Rather, someone has to fix them when they break, not to mention answer the always-fun question: "So, can I get [X application] on [X device]?"

We know -- BYOD and all of that. But let's see a show of hands in the comments from IT pros who have fielded calls from co-workers about their personally owned iPads or Android phones. What happens when wearable tech or IoT goes mainstream?

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software. (Free registration required.)

Kevin Casey is a writer based in North Carolina who writes about technology for small and mid-size businesses. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 6:46:40 PM
Re: "Good Enough" is Hard to Beat
@ Curits: You are right. But I guess, that productivity on older operating systems would be working for them with their current workforce only. Do you think that productivity level of their new joiners would be the if they are migrating from upgraded environments. I believe that upto some extent familiarity largely contributes to productivity, & I think it works here as well.
User Rank: Ninja
6/16/2014 | 6:33:11 PM
Re: Good enough

@ UberGoober: Well said. Regarding Office 2007 ribbon, I found that weird in the beginning too. But later I realized, that it was more user friendly than previous menu interface versions. I think many found that hard to accept as they were using the almost same interface for Office since more than a decade, 1995 or may be even earlier than that. I have similar observation for Windows 8 for individual users. I think it is just a matter of familiarity.  


User Rank: Moderator
6/13/2014 | 3:35:16 PM
Refresh Cycles
I wonder how often people would buy new smartphones if their wireless carrier didn't foot most of the hardware cost in exchange for a(nother) two-year service contract. Seems like "good enough" would take over really quick when you look at the full price tags on the higher end phones.
User Rank: Ninja
6/13/2014 | 12:55:31 PM
Re: Good enough
@UberGoober -- really well said. I never even bothered with Windows 8. 7 is fine. I wish my Palm Pilot still worked! My new computer has all the room it needs for bloatware. But I use almost nothing past the basics. It's amazing how difficult it is to still make the basic computer run, and how much you have to really know about conflicts, program removal, security, and the fact that MSFT wants to save everything in libraries I never use.
User Rank: Strategist
6/13/2014 | 12:46:02 PM
Good enough
Somewhere just after the turn of the millenium, PCs got ahead of software demands for regular office use, around the 1GHz processor timeframe.  Then speeds tripled over a few years, and XP, which is was a pretty darned good OS, came along.  Vista would have increased demand for new hardware, but it was a pig in every sense, not just in hardware requirements, and people shunned it.  I think that miss, along with the general hatred for Office 2007 and the detestable Tool Ribbon, got people out of the habit of upgrading to get the latest stuff, and the old PCs worked just fine for most folks. 

Now M$ keeps trying to find the mythical 'killer app,' while trying to force folks to buy into the Win8/WinPhone UI paradigm that everyone hates.  I'm somewhat encourged by their gradual return of the useful bits of the UI they ripped out, but for about 99.9% of the population, upgrading from Win7 buys essentially nothing and costs time, money, and pain.  Its  not worth it.

It only takes so much iron and OS to browse the web, look at email, and write memos.  A slow upgrade cycle is here to stay for the forseeable future.
User Rank: Author
6/13/2014 | 11:07:21 AM
More screens
The refresh cycle will never be the same again. But that's a PC maker challenge, not a customer challenge.
User Rank: Author
6/13/2014 | 11:02:10 AM
Re: "Good Enough" is Hard to Beat
I had a "good enough" conversation just yesterday with my colleague in IT, where we discussed my 4-year-old MacBook Pro. It went something like this: 

"Still running all right?"

"Yeah. It makes very light tickety kind of noise, but it's doing what I need."

"OK. We'll upgrade to the highest OS we can, and keep you on it. Send it in for upgrade when you're on vacation this summer."
Curt Franklin
Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/13/2014 | 9:04:00 AM
"Good Enough" is Hard to Beat
I keep running into companies and individuals that continue to be productive on a five-year-old desktop computer running Windows XP. It's not that they refuse to recognize that newer computers and operating systems are more powerful -- it's that the combination they have allows them to be as productive as they need to be in their PC time. The message that Microsoft and its hardware partners have yet to get across to thousands of businesses is that there's enough productivity to be gained to justify the expense of an upgrade. Until that happens, XP is going to remain a major player in business computing.
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