Laptops remain an integral part of any IT strategy today, with organisations looking to truly mobilise their workforces and equip employees with portable, secure and productive devices.

By Ronald Ravel, director: B2B South Africa at dynabook South Africa

Yet at the same time, SpiceWorks research found that over half of technology buyers expect no increase to their budgets this year.

So, while CIOs face greater pressure than ever to demonstrate the positive impact of technology on the bottom-line, they also need to stretch their budgets further and demonstrate greater sustainability within the IT department.

Even those who are lucky enough to receive additional budget will most likely be expected to invest in emerging workplace technologies such as AI, edge computing and cloud solutions, leaving little space in the budget for devices. As a result, lifecycle management of the device fleet is becoming even more important, which in turn can create greater opportunities for resellers if they can incorporate this into their offering and help IT managers to extract maximum value from their hardware.


An opportunity for resellers

Rather than promoting devices based on initial cost versus capabilities, channel partners should instead consider how they fit in with the customers’ broader network over the long term, and what they can do to support cost management – from device planning through to end-of-life. The PC as a Service (PCaaS) model, which is focused on making device lifecycle management more straightforward, offers a crucial means of fulfilling these long-term needs. For channel partners, partnering with vendors who offer such services enables them to deliver a more attractive package to customers, while leaning on the vendor to deliver the ongoing support required.

Following an opex model, PCaaS involves paying a monthly rate for a package of device production, configuration and management services. Prior to engaging with this model, it is crucial to assess what a customer’s employees require from devices, and to then set goals around what the device lifecycle management project should achieve – for example cost savings or freeing up time for the IT department. Once objectives are set with the customer and the models have been chosen, how they are configured can be a major challenge for businesses.


Delivering ready-to-run devices

Much needs to be done before a device is ready to be deployed. The device preparation stage offers stage, resellers a prime opportunity to add value, by offering consultancy and providing packages which include configuration services – so devices arrive at the organisation set up and ready to go. At this stage, the fleet can also be adapted to the specific network and security requirements of the business via pre-set BIOS settings. Offering devices which are deployment-ready enables peace of mind for the customer and alleviates pressure on the IT team.

Just as device configuration is a concern, so too is deployment. All too often it can be a time-consuming and complex process which can disrupt operations. Resellers can support a smoother deployment with packages that include deployment services. This means on-site installation is carried out by trained vendor technicians, who can dismantle older devices, migrate data and set up new models, among other services – removing concerns around disruption and freeing up more valuable time for the internal IT team.


Long-term support

Device downtime is a serious issue in today’s ultra-mobile professional world – so once devices are configured and deployed, they must be managed and maintained. For flexibility, convenience, speed and cost efficiency, resellers should seek out PCaaS offerings which include on-demand support services as standard. Prime examples of this are packages which offer on-site repairs or device swap services – where a replacement is provided the next working day, or by pick up and return. Better still is a centralised portal which enables businesses to manage and track their assets in order to sustain high-quality performance, assessing technical information and tracking support requests in real-time.

Another crucial business consideration is security. In the rare event of a cyber-attack, accidental device reformatting, or physical damage, customers could lose valuable corporate data – inflicting costs and reputational damage on a company. This makes a robust data recovery component is invaluable, encompassing data restoration, remote wiping in the case of lost or stolen units, and replacement hard drives.

When a device has become obsolete and been replaced, it’s important that it is retired in a sustainable and eco-friendly fashion to stay compliant. Moreover, disposal should be conducted securely to protect sensitive corporate data. When looking at a PCaaS offering, it’s important that they guarantee old IT equipment will be disposed of both sustainably and securely.


Supporting long-term goals

By promoting a comprehensive device lifecycle management offering rather than simply selling the standalone device, resellers can support customers in driving down costs, improving security, enhancing sustainable practices and increasing employee productivity. Leveraging device lifecycle management as part of a PCaaS-driven IT strategy can help IT managers demonstrate a positive contribution to supporting business goals. It is up to resellers to educate them on the benefits of considering lifetime value rather than initial cost, and to then provide the consultancy and support to deliver this whenever needed.