Is this the Renaissance of the PC?
Around the year 2000, the term “tablet PC” was coined. Ten years later, in 2010, we saw the first headline – “The PC Officially Died Today” – and a near decade-long debate began, with most tech pundits convinced that the PC would be extinct by 2020.
Fast forward to today and the narrative has changed. According to IDC, worldwide PC shipments increased 17.1 per cent year-on-year in 3Q20 while smartphone shipments are projected to decline -1.3 per cent year-on-year in the same quarter. While the PC has always helped us connect, collaborate and communicate, 2020 has proven the value it brings to our lives more than any other time I can remember. This is a popular opinion – nearly everyone will agree – but I’d take it a step further. I believe we’re witnessing the renaissance of the PC. Not a resurgence, as that would imply a period of little activity, but a renaissance. An entirely new way to think about something.
The IT department doesn’t touch the PC
It’s mind-boggling what IT teams have accomplished this year. Digital transformation initiatives went from multi-year projects to turning on like a light switch in a matter of days.
We have always put the needs of people at our core, with support available at every stage of a company’s journey to provide a productive and connected digital workforce. With solutions like Unified Workspace, we provide ready-to-work PC experiences for employees, regardless of location. Our approach protects from security vulnerabilities, lightens and automates workloads, provides management options from DIY to managed-for-you and provides support for the unexpected.
But how does this evolve in our renaissance phase? Think of PCs that self-heal to keep you working instead of looking for help. Think how the combination of AI, analytics, the cloud and improved connectivity will make remote management of PCs a breeze. Plus, how the promise of predictive maintenance means problems fix themselves before they manifest.
A future where IT never physically touches a PC again? That’s a revival that could benefit us all.
Thanks to AI, PC now stands for Personal Companion
With ever-increasing demands, we need PCs that do more than just work. PCs that are more intelligent, self-aware and user aware. Some AI-based software learns and adapts to how you work and provides faster app launches, extended battery life, and easier log-on and secure lock-outs.
Future AI capabilities will benefit us in ways we haven’t imagined yet. AI will make PC usage more seamless, customised and hassle-free. It will hurdle common tech challenges, like connecting to the local network or setting up a printer. Imagine ubiquitous connectivity and a continuous experience that translates across all your preferred devices so you can always pick up where you left off.
Think about having a personal AI assistant on your PC to help manage your work and home life. Setting calendars appointments or making recommendations based on contextual data will be simple tasks completed in the background for you. A PC that becomes a trusted and reliable assistant, or personal companion, while you manage work and play from anywhere.
Beyond form factor: collaboration and connectivity take the spotlight
The industry has long focused on offering the smallest and lightest devices possible. System integrators typically balance the demand for compact form factors against the convenience of a variety of ports, long battery life and the connectivity options remote workers need. The themes of “work from anywhere” won’t change (think collaboration and connectivity), but the way they manifest will.
As your PC gets more intelligent, it understands when you want to be seen and when you don’t. If you’re participating in a video conference but get distracted – it could be a phone call, or your officemate/ partner/ child/ dog needs you – you can trust your PC to turn off the camera until you choose to re-engage.
The space that you occupy at any given moment shouldn't limit your productivity. Mobile PCs may offer expansive, adaptive screens so you can be more productive wherever you are. Think of workplaces that are completely wireless and turn on by detecting your presence so you stay productive as you transition from on-the-go to at-the-desk.
Remote workers need baseline internet connectivity and 5G availability is expanding. However, we still need more PCs that can leverage 5G for anywhere, secure connectivity or that can default to 5G when Wi-Fi is slow. Collaboration and connectivity that make you feel like you’re with your colleagues when you aren’t — that’s the next frontier.
PC luxury within reach for all
In the past, executives and salespeople would often get the top-of-the-line devices — the sleekest laptop with high-end components. I know we’ve all had a moment where we’ve gotten a little jealous of a colleague’s new device. When I think about a renaissance of the PC, I imagine us being able to bring these “premium” experiences to more employees. Premium is more than the look and feel of a device -the evolving workforce is redefining it.
Premium is about offering the features you care about like low blue light technology and privacy shutters for when you log many hours a day on your device. The unboxing experience also becomes important since IT may never touch the device. And once the PC is out of the box, we should all be able to jump straight into work the moment we power on.
Better PC designs engineered for disassembly and material recovery will become more important. And look for more options like PCaaS that provide flexibility in IT spending, simpler ways to refresh to the latest PCs and peace of mind with secure data removal and recycling of the device at its end of life.
Security conquers all
This new way of working comes with more opportunities for security vulnerabilities, making it critical to secure workers’ PCs. According to a recent study, more than three-quarters of organisations prioritise supply chain security during vendor selection to address counterfeit components, malware and firmware tampering. Solutions like Dell Technologies SafeSupply Chain help protect against tampering while the PC is in transport and prevent spyware or other malware from getting injected into the device’s hard drive.
Securing below the operating system (OS) is also vital to the overall security of the device, as well as your business. Integrators continue to find ways to bolster PC security with solutions like bespoke BIOS — because a compromised BIOS can potentially provide an attacker with access to information on your device.
We also need to rethink security in a creative way. Not through patches and updates, but by offering PCs that use machine learning and AI to eradicate malware before it even settles. PCs should offer best-in-class security products and practices to lower the risk of having end-users accessing internal networks from home. For me, a renaissance in this area means I never question if my PC — or the information on it — is secure.
The time for a Renaissance is now
We have learned the PC is far from dead. It’s the gateway for us all to work, play and learn. Because of this intimacy, people expect more from their PC now than ever before — and we’re listening.
We’re working on augmenting PCs with technologies like cloud, 5G and AI to offer smart, personalised and wonderful experiences. While we’ve long been on this journey, this “renaissance” moment gives us the opportunity to pause and rethink how we bring about this future.
Sam Burd is President, Client Solutions Group, Dell Technologies