PC Refresh Perception
IT managers view PC refresh cycles as strategic, citing cost-effectiveness and system optimization as primary decision factors. However, some IT decision makers say they are considering PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS) solutions in favor of traditional PC management, including refresh cycles.
Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
Crucial's 2016 survey is the most helpful resource I've found to answer your question. In March 2016, Crucial interviewed 353 IT managers across the US, the UK, Germany and France (respondents split evenly per region). They reported the following relevant findings:
• 50% said they typically chose to upgrade an existing system instead of implementing a PC refresh.
• 28% said they chose to reimage and redeploy desktops instead of replacing them.
• 19% said they chose to purchase a new system when a workstation is slowing down.
Crucial noted that IT managers' decision to upgrade or replace computers is influenced by time or budget, or both.
• Majority said their typical refresh cycle for PCs was every 3 to 4 years.
• Larger organizations tend to refresh PCs on a shorter schedule, with 19% saying they refresh every 1-2 years.
Crucial commented, "The smaller the business, the longer they tend to use each system, and many opt to run them until they crash. In order to do this, IT managers often upgrade existing systems every few years to enable them to last as long as possible."
IT managers said their primary reason for refreshing/replacing PCs were:
• Cost-effectiveness: 26%
• System optimization: 24%
• Value - maximum span: 19%
• Minimal downtime / lost productivity: 17%
• Less work for IT: 10%
Crucial reported that a PC refresh cycle achieves cost-effectiveness by saving time, which is synonymous with money: "Replacing an aging computer saves you the time to install new hardware and your business from being dragged down by slow performance when you'll need to buy a new one at some point anyway."
Those who opted for an upgrade instead of a replacement/refresh cited the following top reasons:
• Cost-effectiveness: 28%
• System optimization: 21%
• Value - maximum span: 21%
• Minimal downtime / lost productivity: 15%
• Less work for IT: 8%
Crucial reports that cost effectiveness can be achieved when we upgrade instead of replacing. It cost 75% less for upgrading from 4GB to 8GB and adding 275GB SSD than to replace the whole system.
PC REFRESH OUTLOOK
In a 2017 article, Computer Weekly reported Gartner's prediction that the PC market will rebound from declining sales thanks to a replacement cycle at the end of 2017.
However, the article considered the diminished relevance of PCs in the corporate workplace: "The challenge for CIOs is that while the features are all nice to have, they do not truly make the PC something that can deliver measurable business value. Business leaders may well question why the PC estate is being updated when many people either bring their own devices to work, or prefer to use iOS or Android tablet devices."
In a 2017 article, NetCommunications reported that PCaaS is being actively considered by a quarter of IT decision-makers. Another 20% of these decision-makers plan to consider it within the next 12 months.
The article goes on to explain that PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS) replaces traditional PC management with a per-device monthly fee bound in a single contract. These contracts generally last three years and are based on a fixed hardware refresh cycle. PCaaS provides support and keeps the software updated to optimize cybersecurity.
Below is additional material for further reading:
Intel's 2016 report "IT@Intel | Refresh Cycle Still Relevant as the IT Landscape Evolves" makes a case for PC Refresh Cycles, this time from the supplier side. Part of the report's conclusion was that "A steady refresh cycle combined with higher-specification devices improves security, manageability, and TCO."
To wrap it up, Crucial's survey reports that IT managers view PC refresh cycles as strategic. Participants cited cost-effectiveness and system optimization as primary decision factors whether they chose to upgrade or replace hardware. Also, PC sales may further decline in view of the PC's diminishing relevance in the workplace. Lastly, some IT decision makers indicate interest in PC-as-a-Service (PCaaS) solutions as an alternative to traditional PC management, including refresh cycles.