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Cost a core issue for technology upgrades

In the final instalment of a three-part series on computer hardware, Alison Birrane looks at the uptake of cutting edge equipment and technology.

PRICE remains a crucial component in businesses’ decision to choose standard, reliable computer hardware technology over cutting-edge technology, according to Western Australia’s hardware suppliers.

Although some new technologies are proving popular as pricing drops and market acceptance increases, many business functions do not require the latest components such as high-end graphics or sound cards.

But ensuring a company has fast hardware, sufficient memory and storage capacity, and reliable high-speed network technology is crucial for the creation of an efficient operating environment with a long replacement cycle.

However, some newer areas of the computer hardware market are experiencing growth despite the recent tough times due to market acceptance of the technology, the flexibility the new technology affords business and because prices have fallen.

Many suppliers are hopeful that demand for these technologies will coincide with the end of the replacement cycle for computers and peripherals bought in 1999 and 2000.

A recent study by Gartner predicts the leading demand drivers of the PC market in Australia in 2003 will be mobility, due to the increasing acceptance of wireless technologies such as Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) wireless networking standard, 802.11b, and the decreasing set-up costs of wireless LANs.

Gartner says this will result in an increased uptake of wireless and mobile PCs from large and mid-size enterprises.

Further, with storage a major issue for most businesses, an increase in the demand for storage and server technology continues.

But regardless of the level of technology, cost and the need to ensure a standard operating environment for workers remains the driving factor for most businesses.

ComputerCORP managing director Hugh Smith said it made more sense for businesses to have everyone using similar technology.

“Businesses take a responsible outlook and prefer proven technology, especially with regards to servers, back-end technology and security,” he said.

Businesses wanted technology that worked and were generally conservative in their outlook, Mr Smith said, a point illustrated by the increased demand for flat screen monitors now the price had fallen in line with market expectations.

However, with software system requirements and capital expenditure patterns driving replacement, companies will buy the best they can afford, as IT managers are aware that computer hardware outdates quickly and must be functional for the duration of their particular company’s replacement cycle.

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