The right digital tools on the go for SMEs

SMEs should look out for business laptops that come with the performance, durability and easy management to empower their hybrid workforce to be more productive while on the move

More than three years after the rush to support remote work, it may be time to rethink and refresh some of the equipment put in place earlier to better enable and empower workers to be more productive and effective on the go.

One particular piece of hardware that (small and medium-sized enterprises) SMEs should take note of is the ubiquitous laptop PC. “Company issue” should not be a bad name simply because a laptop is issued to a staff member. Instead, finding a laptop up to the task at hand is critical to meeting business objectives.

Laptops made for business

Not all laptops are made the same. Some are lightweight and meant more for the road while others cover a wide range of uses.

For example, premium ultraportables that offer performance in a compact package may be useful for travelling executives but usually come at a higher cost.

That said, staff who are not on the go often may also be working from home, so they may still prefer something still portable enough to lug home after a day’s work.

Either way, it is important to pick up a “business class” laptop that comes with the performance, durability and easy management for real work to be done. Here are some pointers to picking the right laptop.

Don’t save on performance

Consider having some headroom for performance when choosing a laptop because it impacts efficiency directly. Avoid the frustration of waiting for a presentation or video file to load.

While it may be tempting to consider that a staff member only needs a certain amount or memory for tasks like e-mails and internet access, think about future apps that will continue to take up more resources as they sport new features.

It is prudent to invest more in, say, a faster CPU and more solid-state drive and memory capacity to enable the laptop to enable productivity and to be useful over a longer period of time.

Make sure it lasts

Look for a business class laptop that is durable, for example, with Corning Gorilla Glass, that will withstand hard knocks on the screen from day to day.

Not everyone may need a fully ruggedised laptop, to be sure, but a business class laptop usually comes with features that will ensure it lasts last longer.

It should stand up to the rigours of being carried around, banged into office cupboards accidentally or even having water accidentally spilled onto it (with spill-resistant keyboards).

Think of security

Most laptops have some form of security built in but consider features such as privacy shutters that close your camera for good and privacy screens that prevent someone sitting next to you on a plane from peering at last quarter’s sales revenues.

Biometric logins, using face recognition or fingerprint sensors, make it safer and easier for a user to log in securely as well. These can also be integrated with your SME’s security framework.

For those who want an additional layer of security, both Intel and AMD CPUs, which are used in many Windows-based business PCs today, offer “pro” versions of their CPUs that come with more security options than regular consumer PCs.

Intel vPro processors, for example, use hardware-based security that works beneath the operating system to protect the firmware and software from being compromised. AMD Pro processors do the same.

Managing your assets holistically

Whether or not you have an IT department, it is important to consider managing your IT assets, including your laptops that are the essential tools for employees.

Laptops with Intel vPro and AMD Pro processors, for example, work with a variety of IT management tools to let administrators easily manage them in-band and out-of-band. This helps to better account for and track assets across an organisation as it grows.

The management tools also help with technical support. Even if a laptop is powered off or unresponsive, an IT desk can rely on remote management to manage and even repair the PC, for example, if a user cannot access the operating system.

Investing in a laptop is investing in your SME

Investing in the right hardware for employees is investing in employees who are crucial to the success of an organisation.

Especially with new hybrid workstyles, staff will be more engaged, effective and successful in their collaboration with fellow team members and other partners to deliver the results expected.

Just as it is important to pick the right cloud provider or broadband operator, SMEs should carefully select the primary digital tool used every day by staff.

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