Companies are still failing to monitor PC expenditure in spite of growing public awareness of cost of ownership issues. Almost 60 per cent of UK and Irish IT managers do not evaluate the cost of PC ownership.
Most respondents to a cost of ownership survey, run by AST Computer, were aware of hidden computing costs, such as support, training, security and anti-virus protection. But, only half said they have taken active steps to make savings on the cost of ownership.
Research company Gartner Group found that the purchase price of a PC is only about 15 per cent of the real cost of ownership but that companies who deploy well can save up to 26 per cent of the total cost.
According to the survey, systems support is the heaviest cost, followed closely by anti-virus detection. But since PC companies claim they offer solutions to all of these burdens, why is the cost of ownership still soaring?
Howard Seabrook, research director at the Gartner Group, explained: ?The biggest problem seems to be finding out which solution suits your organisation. There are 101 recommended ways to measure and control the cost so it?s hard for the user to know who to believe.?
Seabrook believes that companies are very aware of the hidden costs but don?t know how to measure them. He added: ?An organisation can only put so much time and money into measuring the costs without defeating the purpose.?
The Gartner Group is currently developing software that will enable companies to design their own cost measurement program by choosing relevant elements from an extensive menu.
PC providers already offer tools that claim to keep support costs low by allowing IT managers to tap directly into client machines across the network, for functions such as simultaneous upgrades and fault checks.
But there is debate about whether this solves all the problems. Vincent Smith, a spokesman for IBM, claimed that direct access hugely reduces working time for systems managers but he argued that leasing PCs is often a more sensible option for smaller companies.
He added: ?Companies need to think carefully as to whether their next recruit should be a designer or a systems support staff.?
James Griffiths, senior product manager at Compaq, also sees remote access as a good solution, and claims the new breed of network computers are a distraction because they still carry high management costs. ?A lot of managers are pressurised to buy cheaper PCs but this is a false economy because they should be looking at the manageability rather than initial outlay for a purchase. The NC argument is distracting people from the priorities,? he said.
Intel is one company that has undertaken a major rehaul of its systems management to reduce costs. Althoughrefusing to quantify the financial benefits, a spokeswoman said the restructuring created huge savings.
She added: ?This was mainly by standardising our operating sytems so that upgrades could be carried out centrally whereas before they would have necessitated a trip to the office.?
Speaking about the merits of remote access Hall commented: ?Employees were not happy with the level of support service they were receiving. Of the half a million calls internal support used to receive every year only 28 per cent were resolved over the phone. This caused a lot of angst and wasn?t good for morale. Now the number of calls has increased but 90 per cent of are dealt with successfully over the phone.?
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