If you maintain a server farm in-house, the economics and performance of the new hardware will make the use of virtual desktops feasible and affordable over the next year or two. Even if you are using virtual desktops, end user hardware will still need to be replaced and when you do, Ultrabooks, Thin Clients and other new hardware is likely in your future.
Even though pundits are reporting that computer sales are slowing, most of us will still need one or more computers to get our job done. Our current working rule is that if you are replacing any hardware, look to see of the strategy you have been using still makes sense. Stay the course if it does, but don’t be afraid to shift now to maximize your ROI.
Step back and question all of your prior technology decisions. We have seen brand loyalty shifts that are big, but for now, we still recommend a level of brand loyalty to minimize operational costs. If you are an HP shop, remain an HP shop…or Dell, Lenovo or Samsung for that matter.
If you decide to make a brand switch, have a plan to make the switch completely over a relatively short period of time. One caution in this area: we have extended the amount of time that desktops and some laptops are kept because the virtual desktop or remote access environment has made us less dependent on a specific computer.
Look at your business plan and needs. If the strategy and tactics are still pretty much the same, look at your IT strategy and tactics and see if they should remain the same, too. If both the business plan and IT plan are relatively stable, assess the changes in your software.
Is the publisher doing things pretty much the same, or are they making strategic shifts? Two big examples might come from CCH and Intuit. CCH SaaS is a strategic shift in the product offerings from this major publisher. Intuit has made a radically different user interface in QuickBooks 2013 available, and has been working on the QuickBooks Online interface for over two years, making for a wonderful experience on a tablet.
Now assess new technology opportunities including, but not limited to: touch, high speed cellular, tablets, Solid State Drives, Backup systems, cabling, 802.11ac wireless, scanning, printing including your office copier, as well as your meeting or conference rooms. What about using active digital signage? What technology is available that should be used, what does it cost, and what is the return?
Lay out all of the changes, costs and training needed to make these new technologies effective. Do a classic Ben Franklin evaluation where you consider the disadvantages and advantages of changing. Also consider the disadvantages and advantages of remaining the same. Compare these lists, and only act when the change looks to have advantages and the costs show a reasonable return.
Prepare to measure the outcome of your technology investment by looking at your current business measures. Are new or different measures needed? Do we need to create a new baseline measurement of current costs? Consider what the impact of your technology changes will be and look at the measurements.
For example, if you currently complete a task in X amount of time, what is the new Y amount of time after the implementation? If the change made things worse, what can we do to adjust the results?
The more you measure and watch, the better job you will do in the future, and the quicker you will make adjustments when things have gone wrong. If you are doing the proper planning, you will know you have chosen the right new tools, and won’t find yourself asking the question: Now what?