The Wireless Miser's Blog

Mobility refresh: Death of the desktop?

For years, companies have been periodically refreshing their desktop PCs in order to keep up with processor cycles, new operating systems and other platform considerations.

But, as mobility becomes increasingly imperative, it may be time to think about dispensing with the desktop altogether—at least for certain types of users—and performing the next round of end-user technology refresh with a laptop, netbook or tablet alone.

There are several reasons to think seriously about a desktop-less refresh cycle, where appropriate:

You’re going to have to give these users mobility anyway. It has simply become unacceptable to limit knowledge worker productivity to the office. Business moves too fast and people cost too much. But if you’re going to get someone a laptop or tablet anyway, why continue to spend money on a desktop that is essentially extraneous? Cut the cord and save some money.

Corporate culture is changing. A new generation of Millennials are entering the workforce. Many of these people grew up and went through college with a laptop as their only computer. They actually don’t like PCs and find it absurd to keep syncing one device to another—when they could instead be using one device all the time.

Management and support have gotten easier. Back when only a relatively small number of people had laptops, they could be a bit of a management hassle. Securing data, enabling remote connectivity and the like could consume a disproportionate amount of IT resources. That situation has changed dramatically. Now there are lots of tools for mobile device management—and many key capabilities are available via SaaS. Amortize that over a larger number of mobile devices in your organization, and per-unit TCO can be driven way down.

These are just the reasons that IT can finally be open to a mobility-only refresh from a cost and logistics perspective. From a business perspective, the arguments may be even stronger. Mobility not only improves user productivity, it also fundamentally changes the relationship between people and work. It gives them tremendous flexibility to solve problems, make decisions and collaborate with people across and beyond the organization on an anytime/anywhere basis. They start their workday earlier and end it later.

Yet, at the same time, they can actually have a better work/life balance because they have more flexibility to get things done when they want to get them done. If they want to leave the office a little early to get to the gym or attend a child’s sports event, they can—because they can always finish up what they’re working on later.

So now may be the time to resist the automatic reflex to get new desktops because that’s just the way things have always been done. You may very well be able to spend less and deliver more value to the business by letting go of the fixed desktop entirely—and making mobility the new personal computing standard for your knowledge workers.