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The reality of technologically advanced work environments is that the benefits associated with PC infrastructure are no longer limited to the desktop, writes Gary Naidoo, deputy MD at Sahara. Computer equipment – and mobile & wireless solutions in particular – now represents a key element of tech-savvy employees’ strategy to achieve equilibrium between duties at the office and the responsibilities of everyday life.

One doesn’t have to go very far to see the level to which globally established vendors of technology continue to meet consumer needs, common to both the desktop and mobile markets.
Aspects such as performance, speed, reduction in total cost of ownership, memory, storage capacity and aesthetic qualities all have a bearing on the decisions of potential investors.
For example, end users notice the every increasing power capacities of today’s processing technology. The demand for this technology and volume intensive storage capacity is growing.
Today there is greater appreciation for the contribution and technical value of multi-core processing.
There is no doubt that the increase in research and development & innovation around the Personal Computer has made the commodity indispensable and inextricably linked to employment in general, on a formal and informal level.
The PC market has developed and has grown to the extent that new areas of opportunity for trade is being identified and engaged with every day.
Clearly the traditional two fronts of business opportunity, that being the workplace and home, now converge and reflect a more modern approach: a well constructed symbiotic unison of home/work life using technology to bridge the gaps.
Mobility, higher speed processing in notebooks, an increase in storage capacity and memory application, as well as a reduction in pricing has helped drive the establishment of the mobile professional.
It is now feasible to have a notebook or laptop as the chief means of connectivity to the physical office/ business. Mobile professionals continue to leverage off personal storage devices such as USB, memory sticks and even MP3 and MP4 players to store, manage and transfer greater volumes of large multimedia files.
The fact that mobile employees now have the scope to connect to databases and fax/e-mail/mms and surf the Web anywhere and anytime means that the worker is not constrained by geographic locations.
Vendors are acutely aware of the advent and importance of wireless technologies such as GPRS, 3G, Wi-Fi and Wi-Max, and the extent to which they enhance high speed wireless connectivity and data transfer.
This focused innovation is evident in the latest product ranges available locally. There is obvious attention to consumer priorities such as cost, aesthetic quality, functionality, memory and performance.
Practical elements such as screen size and speed have emerged as very important influences. This is due, in part, to the amount of time users spend behind the notebook or laptop, and the fact that the technology now permeates the home just as much as it does the office.
Decision makers in business also realize the benefits of mobile technology in the workplace, including a measurable increase in productivity and reduction in total cost of ownership, reliable support and a wider platform to expose products and services.
In addition to considering the core offering of business and related technological requirements, timing is imperative when it comes to the enhancement of infrastructure – especially in terms of integrating mobile and wireless to compliment and/or replace with desktops.
Aspects such as security and Internet usage policy and official correspondence through the network must all be clearly defined and understood at all levels within the business.
One of the more alarming facts about cyber crime is that a significant percentage of attacks and other criminal activity can be traced back to within the organization or business.
Access to the network and regulations governing data transfer must be determined and put into position.
Key segments of the digital lifestyle market, such as home networking and gaming, continue to show growth. And the PC is consistently central to the digital lifestyle environment.
This is particularly true of the home networking and gaming markets. As far as the latter is concerned, manufacturers and technology suppliers continue to meet an increasing demand by consumers for technology that can handle the latest developments in gaming and the need for hard drive capacity, quality audio & visual hardware and software – and a surge in general PC performance.
This is true of both the entry level and high end segments of the market.
Again vendors have partnered with manufacturers to bring out high-end equipment that will address these needs.
In 2007 technology vendor Intel Corporation launched 45nm processing and in March of this year announced its intention to hit the 32nm mark by 2009.
Globally, manufacturers are aligning substantial amounts within their research & development budgets to the introduction of enhanced sound and graphics that reinforces the appeal of games.
In terms of the growth of the home networking market, the PC is again a critical element of the setup. The trend of establishing fully operational digital homes is continuing and there are more mobile/wireless zones or hotspots springing up all the time. Cost remains a factor, as does security, but the drive behind a home network is to eventually link up all appliances and enable remote control.
Typically, the PC will be used as the central control mechanism through which users can access and surf the Web, direct appliances, communicate online and generally run the household with the click of a button.
It could be linked to home entertainment systems and other digital lifestyle equipment and be used to engage devices simultaneously. It is possible to reminisce over photographs stored and manipulated on the PC screen, lined up to the rest of the household and viewed on television screens.
South Africa still has some way to go before we establish fully fledged, wholly digital communities, but the will and blue print is in place and it is simply a matter of time before this becomes a reality.