Changing PC and support requirements – the IT experts have their say

The demands of a global pandemic have forever changed how IT works, but what does this mean for the PC and how it’s managed and supported?

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The events of 2020 have transformed IT priorities and operations. IDG’s 2021 State of the CIO report found that 82% of IT leaders had implemented new technologies, IT strategies or methodologies in response to the pandemic, while 81% had increased their focus on IT innovation to accommodate remote work.

But what has this meant for workers and the PCs they rely on, not to mention hard-working IT teams? To find out, we spoke to technology influences and experts and asked them: has the transformation of the IT landscape changed what employees need from their PCs, and how are businesses supporting them in the new hybrid working era?

One thing the accelerated shift to remote working has done is highlight the weakness of IT strategies that didn’t prioritize mobility and agility before. Scott Schober, President and CEO of Berkely Varitronics Systems, Inc. argues that “the pandemic created overnight requirements for most workforces to adapt to a remote learning and working environment.” This disrupted supply chains and chip shortages left some businesses scrambling for whatever they could get.

Veteran enterprise technology journalist, Simon Bisson, agrees that the switch to remote working has created temporary shortages, but adds that new employee requirements haven’t ended there. “Users are asking for the resources they find they need to work effectively” he says, “including good webcams (often external), secondary monitors and docking stations. They need to have an enterprise grade platform in their home offices.”

The shift to remote and hybrid working has seen the PC become more than the traditional productivity tool. “Employee computers have transformed into a communications hub”’ says Larry Boyer, author of The Robot in the Next Cubicle. “Employers have adapted as best they can by providing add-on hardware and services” he adds, “but as we've all seen and experienced, scaling has taken time and hasn't been perfect.”

Throughout this, forward-thinking IT teams have come to understand that one size of PC does not fit all. “I'm not sure employee PC requirements have changed much due to the pandemic” says Gene de Libero, Chief Strategy Officer, Geekhive. “However, a critical consideration for organizations continues to be understanding employees' differing tech requirements across multiple departments.” As businesses deliver strategies to support a hybrid workforce, de Libero argues, it’s crucial that they understand that developers require a different PC configuration than, for example, finance teams. In fact, users need access to a wide range of different specifications and form factors.

Isaac Sacolick, author and President of StarCIO, agrees. In his opinion, IT leaders have a responsibility to “ensure that their PCs are up to the challenge, as employees are video conferencing more, analyzing larger data sets, and performing critical digital workflow functions.” “When PCs take too long to boot or are too slow” he suggests, “it impairs employee productivity and creates unnecessary stress.”

This is where the new Intel® Evo™ vPro® Platform can help, ensuring that end users get the responsive performance they need to be productive, along with instant wake and the nine hours plus real-world battery life to last throughout the working day.  And all this comes in stylish, slim-and-light form factors with fantastic, immersive displays, delivering a great working experience whether inside or outside the office.

Yet new working styles also mean a new approach to management and security. “There’s a need for devices that encrypt data at rest, with policy-driven management via lightweight, bandwidth-efficient methods, and a minimal impact on users” says Simon Bisson. “Users are stressed already, and they don’t need more worries.” Bisson believes that tools and technologies that enable IT departments to push updates and manage security policies are vital, empowering organizations to support their users at a distance through Windows Update for Business Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT), built into the Intel vPro® Platform.

Will Kelly, Technical Marketing Manager for a container security startup, also feels that “support tools and frameworks now have to move beyond the traditional network perimeter.” Here, Intel’s vPro platform brings industry-leading remote manageability across the whole organization, including those outside the corporate firewall.  Baked-in hardware-level features enable IT teams to configure and fix PCs remotely, even if the OS is down.

IT is changing, but the key objective remains clear: to ensure that employees get the technology and tools they need to be as effective and productive as possible, wherever they work. “Business leaders should revisit policies around equipment budgets, refresh cycles, PC selection options, and deployment flexibilities” says Isaac Sacolick, “so that employees are productive and happy with the technology they use every day.” Here, one of the strengths of Intel’s Evo vPro platform is that it meets the diverse needs of individual users yet enables IT to deliver a stable and reliable foundation for fleet management, maintenance and refresh cycles.

The device is always crucial, but new hybrid working practices mean that IT teams need to do more to address the whole user experience. As Frank Cutitta, CEO and Founder, Health Tech Decisions Lab puts it, “never has bandwidth and infrastructure been more important to assure the highest quality of engagement.” Aternity’s Digital Experience Management platform gives IT teams the tools to gain visibility and control across everything that impacts user productivity, from cloud and SaaS services to enterprise mobile apps.

It enables IT to monitor the health of desktop PCs, laptops, mobile devices and even virtual desktop infrastructure, and identify hot spots that mar the employee experience, so that these can be improved. It’s all part of what Gene de Librero describes as ‘the new enterprise mandate’ built around ‘the ability to respond to dynamic business and user needs and unexpected market forces.’ This, he feels, ‘is critical to retaining competitive advantage, business agility, and employees.”

Together, Intel and Aternity are delivering next generation hardware and a true SaaS Digital Experience Management (DEM) solution, improving the user experience for the workforce wherever they are. Aternity’s DEM platform is highly scalable and capable of supporting the largest enterprises seamlessly, with a robust, highly available DEM solution that provides critical insights that increase productivity, reduce IT related costs, and improve both employee and customer satisfaction.


Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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