The Lifespan of Technology: Has it Changed?

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We all know that a lot has changed in the past two years. A worldwide pandemic has seeped into every aspect of our lives and our business. Browse through MainSpring blogs, and you will find recent posts about IT budgets in uncertain times and a hybrid workforce.

As our clients prepare for 2022, a question often received includes the lifespan of technology. How long will a laptop or a smartphone last within today's environment? Or can we repurpose hardware for a new use?

This blog is about the new lifespan of hardware…and how it impacts your technology plan.

A reflection on the past

Remember when you could manage the lifespan of tech hardware with a calendar?  At eighteen to twenty-four months, a desktop, laptop, or smartphone was marked as close to end-of-life. The math was easy. Budgeting and procurement followed the plan.

Was the technology hardware close to end-of-life, or were we all bending to technology social pressure? We have all watched the launch of a new phone, laptop, or tablet with anticipation. Some of us may have even stood in line for the next, best smartphone. The phone in our hand still worked, but we were ready to move on.

The COVID 19 pandemic and our shift to WFH (work from home) have changed the math.

Today’s technology calendar

If you compare the average lifespan stated by the manufacturer to real business life, your organization was most likely trading up hardware a full 2.3 years early, usually without a managed plan to repurpose used technology.

Here is a sample of statistics from Statista reviewing the smartphone's lifecycle in the United States:

Consumers keep a smartphone on an average of 3.77 years compared to a business enterprise upgrading every 2.4 years. - Statista

The same study shows that consumers keep their home desktop or laptop for an average of six years.

The IT team's focus pointed to the new. In the past, aged technology was recycled or donated. Protocols managed the process to transition to the next version as the old one was decommissioned, often, with over two years of life left in the cycle.

Do the math. What if you could add two years back to the life of enterprise hardware?

Save money on technology, balance the budget

As we all rushed home to become a WFH force in the Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia region, IT teams rushed to deploy laptops and smartphones to the staff at home. Many organizations faced both unknown and surprise procurement hurdles.

Budgets are in turmoil.

As we all strive to balance our organization's budget in turbulent times, perhaps it is time to extend the life of enterprise computers, smartphones, and tablets. For additional budget ideas, read the MainSpring blog, Technology budgeting in turbulent times.

Delaying the procurement of new hardware or the repurposing of existing hardware may facilitate a balanced budget for your organization.

5 MainSpring tips to extend the life of technology hardware

Here are MainSpring tips to extend and manage the life of enterprise hardware. Our recommendations are mindful of maintaining security and preventing cybercrime.

  1. Many organizations maintain an IT Asset Management plan (ITAM) but often, the plan tracks and manages software subscriptions and places a low priority on hardware. It is essential to also maintain asset management for technology hardware. Ensure that your management plan includes the lifecycle of hardware.
  2. Often, extending the life of hardware relies on an upgrade to the operating system. Plan a review of OS upgrades and add the results to your ITAM plan.
  3. Find a maintenance balance. When is the end of the manufacturer's warranty and support program? Has your organization transitioned to new hardware prematurely?
  4. Consider cybersecurity. Is it the hardware, or is the threat from software or employees? Upgrade software and train your employees to be a human firewall.
  5. Create a plan to repurpose hardware. Ask your IT team about repurposing desktops for thin clients, cloud processing, or even retail kiosks. Repurpose tablets and smartphones into inventory scanners. Cloud services and smartphone apps offer opportunities to repurpose hardware in the enterprise environment.

Ask for IT help

Business has changed, and so has asset management. If you are looking for fresh and innovative ideas, follow MainSpring on social media, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, and ask about MainSpring IT services.

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