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Although the pandemic has helped to boost PC sales, IT departments must now look ahead at the future of work and how end-user computing will enable employees to remain productive irrespective of whether they are working in an office or at home.
At the start of the Covid-19 global crisis, PC manufacturers struggled to keep up with demand for new devices. Families needed PCs for home schooling while office workers needed laptops to work from home. On top of this, the semiconductor industry experienced a global chip shortage.
The TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT Priorities 2022 survey has found that in response to the pandemic, 40% of the 158 IT professionals surveyed say they have made digital workplaces, including end-user computing, a priority. Given that remote working puts greater emphasis on understanding how to ensure staff can work effectively at home, one-fifth of the IT professionals surveyed say they have also made IT asset management a priority.
But Gartner’s latest PC market share data shows that the successful roll-out of Covid-19 vaccination programmes and the chip shortages have contributed to a decline in PC sales. Discussing the shift in demand, Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner, said: “Business PC demand remained strong, led by economic recovery in key regions and the return of some workers to offices.
“However, business PC growth was concentrated in the desktop segment as semiconductor shortages continued to constrain laptop shipments. These component shortages are expected to persist into the first half of 2022.”
Despite these shortages, a mobile devices refresh in 2022, covering smartphones, tablets and laptops, is the fourth most popular project among the IT professionals who took part in the TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT Priorities 2022 survey.
The availability of Windows 11 is likely to be part of the decision-making process, as IT departments look to refresh their desktop and laptop estate. As Computer Weekly has previously reported, older devices that lack a TPM 2.0 crypto module are not compatible with Windows 11. Although Windows 10’s end of support date is 14 October 2025, IT departments will need to ensure their existing PC estate meets the minimum specification for the new version of Windows, which will drive purchasing decisions.
From a desktop IT management perspective, Windows 11 is a similar beast to Windows 10. In a recent blog post, Dale Vile, founder of analyst group Freeform Dynamics, wrote: “Microsoft quietly discarding the notion of a lighter, simpler desktop OS option, the fanfare around Windows 11 signals a doubling down on the status quo. This means more of the same, and admins, security teams and finance managers continuing to live with complexity-related costs and distractions.”
But while Windows11 requires similar IT end-user computing management processes to Windows 10, the pandemic has led to an explosion in the use of video conferencing, unified communications and enterprise social media tools. Providing team collaboration is a top priority for IT decision-makers, and the PC industry has recognised that tools to support collaboration are a key aspect of desktop productivity, which means new laptops are now equipped with features such as improved noise-cancelling microphones and webcams.
Canalys research analyst Trang Pham said: “While Western Europe has been ahead of most of its peers in operational digitisation, especially when it comes to hybrid working, there is a definite need for faster and better-spec’d devices, as companies look not only to insulate themselves from future disruptions, but also start looking seriously at their ESG [environmental, social and corporate governance] goals.”