The thin client model will reach 10 per cent of organisations over the next five years, driven by IT cost savings and improved efficiencies and an acceleration in the consumerisation of corporate IT, according to new report from consultancy Deloitte.
The firm's Technology Media and Telecommunications 2010 report predicted that organisations will increasingly embrace internet technologies to connect the corporate or self-purchased devices of remote workers to their networks, ensuring that thin client technologies will gain a significant foothold.
The drivers will depend on the organisation and industry, although trading room floors, offshore call centres and the education sector could benefit from widespread roll-outs, according to report author Paul Lee.
Reduced IT costs could be gained from not having to configure laptops, and lower energy, air conditioning and cabling costs are all potential benefits that could drive adoption, he added.
Deloitte technology partner Dave Tansley suggested that the move to a thin client model could also spur the trend towards the consumerisation of IT.
"Once you go down that road and embrace thin clients as a way of working, using a browser to connect you to corporate applications, that requires the IT department to deal with alien devices coming onto the corporate network," he said.
"It makes it easier to contemplate workers using their own devices. For some, the thin client could exist as a widget which you download to your preferred device which then gives you the interface you need to do your job."
Tansley argued that, as IT purchasing decisions will increasingly be based on the consumer IT-oriented preferences of individuals, this approach could save money as consumer technologies today are often less expensive than their corporate equivalents, especially if purchased by the individual employee.
It could also make staff more productive and satisfied with their roles, as they would be using the devices they prefer, and which are customised for them, he added.
"In the good old days the best technology people had access to was the computer provided for them at their place of work, but today many people have better, more user friendly technology at home," Tansley explained.
"We are now seeing many of our large clients reaching the conclusion that it's not productive to fight the natural tendencies of their employees."
Rather than spend time and money trying to prevent consumer devices from connecting to the corporate network, Tansley said that IT departments will increasingly look to embrace that technology and "make sure that self-purchased technologies can connect and interact with the corporate infrastructure in an appropriate way".
Hugh Scantlebury, director at online accounting firm Aqilla, argued that IT managers need to be on top of their game to ensure "they’re not swayed by this wave of ‘business consumerism’ and continue to invest in software designed for business use".
“Until now, the majority of internet-enabled devices, with the exception of laptops and desktops, have required some sort of compromise, whether it’s the size of the screen or processing capabilities, meaning that using some web-based applications was a challenge," he added.
"At the moment we’re seeing the emergence of a new class of computers – the so called ‘slate’ – which is set to deliver what users need in order to work effectively from wherever they are.”
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