Mobile PCs top business hardware priority

Laptop and notebooks rank as top priority for IT decision makers in Asia-Pacific with about half looking to implement new mobile computers in next six months, finds ZDNet Asia survey.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

IT decision makers in the region are pointing to laptop and notebooks as a top priority in their company's deployment of end-user hardware technologies.

According to the ZDNet Asia IT Priorities Survey 2H2010, 48.5 percent of IT decision makers indicated plans to implement a laptop and notebook project within six months, while another 24.3 percent planned to do so in the next 6 to 12 months.

Conducted in July 2010, the survey polled 3,657 IT decision makers in the Asia-Pacific region including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Following close behind mobile computer implementation is desktops and workstations deployment. Among the respondents surveyed, 43.7 percent planned to deploy such projects within six months while 26.9 percent said they would do so between 6 and 12 months.

LCD monitors ranked third among end-user hardware priorities, with 37.9 percent of respondents planning to implement such initiatives in six months. Another 23.7 percent planned to deploy LCD monitors in the next six month to a year's time.
Source: ZDNet Asia IT Priorities Survey 2H2010

PC refresh when support expires
With mobile and desktop computers high on companies' IT priorities list, ZDNet Asia spoke to two Singapore-based organizations about their company's typical PC lifecycles and costs related to maintaining end-user systems.

In an e-mail interview, Charlie Goh, director of administration and business tech at NTUC Club, revealed that the company's PC refresh cycle usually follows the warranty period provided by the hardware supplier.

"Three-year warranties are common these days for personal computers. Hence, on average, we replace our PCs every three years once the warranty has expired," said Goh.

The timeframe is the same for Internet company, PropertyGuru. Managing director Jani Rautiainen said the company tries to replace its PCs every three years since that is the usual lifecycle of a system.

While the validity of warranties is a key consideration, Goh added that a PC will be replaced if the servicing cost is greater than the cost of purchasing a new one. He noted that the typical cost of acquiring and maintaining a desktop is between S$800 (US$605) and S$1,200 (US$907.6), while it is more costly for laptops where charges range from S$1,500 (US$1,134.5) to S$2,500 (US$1,890.8).

At NTUC club, the manpower cost for maintaining its 550 workstations is estimated to be S$30,000 (US$22,674) per year, he said, or about S$2,500 per month to maintain its PCs.

For PropertyGuru, the cost of acquiring a workstation is pegged at S$1,500 including software acquisition, said Rautiainen, while maintenance cost is estimated to be about S$40 (US$30.3) per month for each workstation.

Both companies pointed to tech support as the biggest cost in terms of PC maintenance. Goh noted that warranties provided by hardware manufacturers are typically "quite comprehensive" and cover the cost of replacing components and parts.

Rautiainen added that Property Guru rarely needs to change components for its PC systems.

Both companies have never purchase pre-owned computers, despite analyst reports that the refurbished computer market will grow in Asia.

Goh noted that NTUC Club is "not keen" on buying reupholstered computers to drive down cost due to concerns over reliability.

"We all depend heavily on our computer systems to conduct our business, hence, any downtime will mean a lost in productivity of our staff," he said. "Systems availability, a low downtime and data integrity are of utmost importance to boost productivity levels."

BYO computer
"Bring Your Own Computer" (BYOC) program is also emerging as an option some businesses in Asia are considering in a bid to better manage cost and improve productivity.

ZDNet Asia checked in on Intel and Citrix Systems, both of which have adopted the practice, to discuss its feasibility and key considerations.

In an e-mail interview, Dave Buchholz, technology evangelist at Intel IT, noted that the company's BYOC efforts are focused on contract workers and not full-time employees. "BYOC [allows] us to support a contingent worker base at a much lower cost and hopefully less TCO than today's traditional environment," Buchholz said.

He noted that the question now is not whether BYOC is ready for mainstream adoption but whether it is ready to support specific user segments. "One thing we learned recently is that it's not about finding a one-size-fits-all solution and applying that across my IT environment," Buchholz explained. "It is more about looking at specific technologies and weighing them across your user segments."

Yaj Malik, Asean area vice president for Citrix Systems, told ZDNet Asia that cost pressures and user expectation of access to powerful computing devices at work as they have at home, are driving the BYOC model for enterprises.

"In particular, the increasing use of the Apple iPad in business has recently driven demand for the BYOC model by organizations," he noted.

Malik noted that for BYOC to be effectively deployed, CIOs need to focus on having a simpler way to deliver desktop as an on-demand service, increasing security and business agility, as well as improving employee productivity by enabling more virtual workstyles.

He added that the first step to enabling large-scale BYOC adoption is the ability to centrally secure and virtualize desktops to end-user devices. Citrix touts its own range of desktop virtualization products.

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