IBM sets its sights on desktop services

IBM is bundling its existing desktop services into a unified offering called IBM WorkPlace.

IBM is bundling its existing desktop services into a unified offering called IBM WorkPlace.

For a monthly fee, IBM will manage the provisioning, operation, maintenance and support of a company's printers, desktop and laptop PCs, handheld devices, copiers and fax machines.

Contracts are expected for run three years, which is on average how often a company refreshes its desktop infrastructure.

"We have had services capabilities in each desktop area for a while, but we're now taking a fresh look at what you need to do to help the customer save money, and offering it to people in a new way: at a low-cost, per-seat basis," said Jim Bolton, IBM Global Services' program manager for output services.

IBM already manages the maintenance and operation of more than 4.2 million PCs and printers, but it trusts that this new offering will help it attract many more clients.

The company promises significant savings to the companies contracting these desktop services. The IBM emphasis would be on determining through a systematic analysis a company's desktop needs, tailoring its desktop holdings accordingly and eliminating redundancies and inefficiencies.

"We can help people understand what they're truly spending and rationalise that down to where they have the right device at the right price," he said, adding that too often, companies ignore how many PCs, printers, copiers, fax machines and scanners they own, how much they spend on maintenance, supplies and operation, and how they could streamline and improve this desktop infrastructure.

IBM WorkPlace is particularly geared towards - but not limited to - companies planning to refresh their desktop infrastructure for the first time since 2000, when many significantly revamped their PC holdings.

The IBM WorkPlace bundle draws from these existing sets of services:

  • IBM Client Advantage services for managing the acquisition, deployment, operation and maintenance of PCs and printers

  • IBM Output Management services for managing the implementation and output of printers, copy machines, scanners and fax machines, billed on a per-page basis

  • IBM Wireless and Mobility services for managing devices such as personal digital assistants and integrating them into a company's IT infrastructure

  • IBM Consulting and Implementation services for deeper advice and customisation.

Another piece to IBM WorkPlace is financing provided through IBM so that companies can, if they choose, lease the hardware and software from IBM, avoiding having to acquire desktop assets. IBM WorkPlace is hardware- and software-agnostic, meaning IBM provides the services to desktop infrastructures made up of IBM and non-IBM products.

IBM WorkPlace has been in pilot testing in North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe for several months and is expected to be rolled out worldwide in the coming months.

Juan Carlos Perez writes for IDG News Service

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