Enterprise Computing
Productivity needs powerful PCs


Some people argue that it is a waste of money to buy new, more powerful
PCs for staff if machines only a few years old still work. But Kelvyn
Taylor believes they are wrong.

Enterprise Computing

One of my colleagues recently expressed his opinion in an IT Week
column that most workers in large organisations have little need for the
latest powerful desktop PC systems (see web address below).
Unfortunately Im going to have to tempt providence and disagree with him.

The thrust of his column was that PC vendors focus too much on meeting
consumers needs, so that corporate desktops have now become little more
than a games box dressed up in a business suit. I dont disagree that PC
technology is largely driven by the demands of the consumer market,
after all, that has been the case ever since MS-DOS came bundled with
the Gorilla and Nibbles QBasic games. But what I do dispute is the
implication that corporate users should be hamstrung by creaking,
groaning five-year old dinosaurs.

This is a theme that Ive
touched on several times in the past. Business is all about maximising
productivity, and its in an organisations best interests to make sure
that there are as few unnecessary obstacles to productivity as possible.
And, to my mind, outdated PCs are one of the biggest obstacles a company
can throw in the way of its staff.

The problem is that people can
easily become accustomed to inferior products. Remember when you finally
ditched your rusty old banger for a new car and were amazed at how
responsive the new model felt? Remember how you never realised how bad
the brakes and steering were on the old one?

Its a bit similar
with PCs over the years you get used to their shortcomings, and you
start to think that theyre all like that.

I had a revelation like
this recently when I upgraded my 1.9GHz Pentium 4 system (not exactly an
ancient one) for a 3GHz model with HyperThreading support, a fast new
hard disk and 3D graphics card. I was stunned to discover the difference
it made to my work. Suddenly I wasnt waiting for hourglasses to spin and
documents to load. I no longer had to go and make coffee while the daily
virus scan took place. In short, I could do more work.

As for the
argument that mainstream business applications dont require much
horsepower, just try opening a 98MB sales analysis spreadsheet or a
bloated 150-page product brochure in Acrobat on an old 500MHz Pentium
III, while simultaneously trying to check your email and run a virus

And readers of IT Weeks digital edition will know
that to get the fancy page-turn animation in the Zinio reader requires
some decent graphics hardware.

But further than this, increasing
your PCs power allows you to do more things at the same time. It
infuriates me to see people having to close down applications in order
to open up a new one. Or sitting there coughing politely while a
document loads, and while their time-pressed boss looks on impatiently
over their shoulder.

Its all wasted time that could be profitably
devoted to far more useful and productive tasks. With IT budgets
reportedly creeping up this year, I sincerely hope that those people
holding the purse strings will take the opportunity to invest in
machines that are as fast as they can afford.

Empower your
employees, dont cripple them.

The counterpoint in German –
Gegenargumente (in deutscher Sprache):

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