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Enterprises look beyond price

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Large organisations are much more focused on ensuring that their IT systems deliver business continuity than on the price of technology.

This is one of the findings of a Corporate PC Trends and Buyer Behaviour Survey commissioned by Lenovo and conducted by ZDNet and Connection Research.
With price having a weighting of only 37,9% in respondent listings of key considerations affecting decisions about technology investments, compatibility of devices with current applications (42,8%), the quality of after-sales service (41,6%), and the ability to run future applications (38,3%) were deemed more important. Other factors included Total Cost of Ownership (32%) and reputation of the brand or vendor (30,4%).
The survey of 956 IT decision makers from multi-national companies (MNCs) and government organisations with more than 500 employees across the emerging markets region (ASEAN, India, Hong Kong, and Middle East & Africa) was conducted between November and December 2010.
Its objective was to define the impact of the 2009 global financial crisis on PC replacements and upgrades, key considerations prior to purchase, and new technological and corporate trends such as PC standardisation policies, energy efficiency, and cloud computing.
The survey’s results show that 80% of respondents have recovered from the recession, with some 12,2% actually having used the financial crisis to accelerate their business strategy by aggressively ramping up on technological investments to pull ahead of competitors.
Overall, respondents indicated that they are getting to grips with the expected proliferation in the workplace of alternative and personal devices such as thin clients, smartphones and tablets.
“Lenovo’s long-standing corporate ethos meshes very well with the executive decision-making trends indicated by the survey,” says Lenovo South Africa country GM, Henry Ferreira. “Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, for example, have been ranked number one for six consecutive reporting periods by Technology Business Research in its Corporate IT Buying Behaviour and Customer Satisfaction Study. This ranking results from solid performance across hardware reliability/quality, ease of doing business, repair time, and phone support – all of which the ZDNet survey indicates are critical factors for corporates.”
According to the ZDNet survey, the most eagerly-anticipated IT devices are those that offer ubiquitous connectivity and secure access to data, either through current technologies or via the cloud.
Perceptions towards the cloud remain lukewarm, however. A third (32,8%) of respondents see cloud computing as inevitable, but many (34,8%) remain uncertain of the correct approach and prefer to be in charge of their own processing and data. More significantly, 82,6% are still reluctant to trust their data to the cloud.
Ferreira says that Lenovo will maintain its strategy of taking the lead in helping customers migrate smoothly to an overall cloud computing experience – by providing access devices, middleware, infrastructure, and the cloud itself.
“PCs won’t become obsolete. They’ll become cloud-ready clients. We expect form factors to change, with organisations eventually having a mix of fat clients, stateless devices, and zero PCs. Lenovo will therefore specialise in optimising PCs for the cloud while developing partnerships and cloud offerings that span client security as a service, desktop as a service, secure cloud access, and other vertically targeted solutions.”
Respondents varied in their PC purchasing policies – from a centrally-driven decision to adopt a single brand to ensure uniformity and manageability (33,8%), to a flexible approach where employees are given a choice of selected PC brands (11,8%). The most flexible arrangement, however, available in about 6% of organisations, utilises a co-ownership approach by setting aside funds for employees to buy their own PCs.
Ferreira warns that, although this may herald a new wave in IT policy within large organisations, such diversity in computing arrangements may not work in all environments. “Every IT decision should always be implemented only in the context of a broader PC management strategy.”
The survey revealed that consistent green procurement policies are practiced by only 20,7% of respondents. Just over a quarter (26%) of respondent organisations insist that employees switch off PCs after working hours – and less than a quarter (24,4%) mandate the disposal of their e-waste in an environmentally-friendly manner.
However, there is an increasing trend towards green procurement practices. Some 20% of respondents expect an increase in mandatory green certifications such as GreenGuard, EPEAT, and Energy Star in their purchasing policies.