The Sustainability Gap

Breaking the Four-Year Technology Refresh Cycle

Foreword

Sustainability is at the top of the agenda for most organisations and departments. Despite an increasing awareness of sustainability issues and a general desire to use computing devices for longer, we still see many businesses stuck in the four-year technology refresh cycle when it comes to the mobile workforce.

With new modular design and extended support available for the latest generation of notebooks and tablets, there’s a real opportunity for businesses to extend the life of the technology used by the mobile workforce, simplify management, and improve total cost of ownership.

“It’s time for businesses to refresh their approach to buying technology for the mobile workforce. It’s time to close the sustainability gap.”

By engaging the workforce in pilot projects before purchase, buyers can ensure devices are much more closely matched to users’ needs. Additionally, purchasing the latest modular devices allows users to customise their technology in the field.

Buying technology that adapts to your changing requirements, and later redeploying it for another purpose within the business, requires a mindset shift but has clear benefits. The ability to upgrade as required and the long-term extended support being offered by some manufacturers help to bridge the gap.

Combine this with the incredible CPU and memory performance available in the latest generation of devices, and there are many reasons to be optimistic. All the elements are now in place for organisations to extend the usability of their mobile computing equipment – by years in many cases.

I hope you find the insights from our latest research useful and that it helps your organisation to break the four-year technology refresh cycle and close the sustainability gap.

Lisbeth Lashmana

Head of European Marketing
Panasonic TOUGHBOOK

Research Essentials

Opinion Matters independently surveyed 750 mobile technology buyers in companies of 50 or more employees in the UK, France and Germany for research commissioned by Panasonic TOUGHBOOK. The companies spanned the utilities, emergency services, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing and construction sectors.

Key findings

The four-year refresh cycle

IT buyers are stuck in a four-year cycle of refreshing their computing devices for the mobile workforce, despite increasing sustainability pressures suggesting devices could be used for longer.

Identifying and purchasing modular solutions means users can customise their devices in the field to meet varying requirements. It also allows the devices to be repurposed for another, later use within the business. With the latest rugged modular computing devices equipped with powerful processors and memory that can easily be upgraded, businesses could be breaking the four-year technology refresh cycle by choosing longer-lasting devices.

Over 56% of buyers expect to replace their devices every 1 - 4 years

How often do you replace the computing devices for your mobile workforce?

Full lifecycle support

IT buyers are still expecting device manufacturers to only support their mobile workforce computing technology for just over three years (3.22 on average)

But providers such as Panasonic, designing for long-term sustainable use, are already offering support for up to five years after a product’s end of life – significantly extending the secure and useful life of the device.

How long, if at all, would you expect your device manufacturer to support your product after launch?

Main buying considerations

What is most important to you when purchasing computing devices for your mobile workforce?

It’s no surprise that security ranks joint highest alongside reliability in terms of importance for IT buyers, with widely increasing organisational demands around both.

For those looking for a secure Windows device, Panasonic offers Secured-Core PCs designed for mission-critical users in the most sensitive data industries.

A Secured-Core PC enables users to boot securely, protect their device from firmware vulnerabilities, shield the operating system from attacks and prevent unauthorised access to devices and data with advanced access controls and authentication systems.

In addition to Windows’ built-in security, Panasonic’s suite of additional technologies offers true peace of mind. Trusted Platform Module (TPM) technology – a security chip included in all TOUGHBOOK Windows devices – increases physical security to make your device tamper resistant and software security to combat malicious threats. For a safer, more personalised and efficient log-on process, Windows Hello makes use of biometrics such as fingerprint or facial recognition, while HF-RFID capabilities mean users can also use contactless smartcards for secure and convenient access.

For those using Android™ devices, Panasonic COMPASS is an out-of-the-box device management solution. It comes as standard with any Panasonic Android device and offers enterprise-level device security, configuration, and management support. Security patches are available for at least two years after Google’s standard end of life, and over-the-air firmware updates are included.

With optional add-ons available, you can tailor your toolkit to meet your unique business requirements.

COMPASS Complete provides an extended long-term solution for up to five years of Android support. With security patches every 45 days and accidental damage warranty cover included, this option offers full lifecycle security – long after Google’s support ends.

Evaluating new devices for long-term use

Surprisingly, half of all IT buyers still do not pilot new computing devices with users before purchase. This increases the risk of missing vital ergonomic design or functionality requirements for the successful long-term use of the devices.

How involved are your mobile workforce employees in the purchase decision for their computing devices?

Management headaches

Overseeing the volume and variety of devices deployed to mobile workers can be a headache for IT departments. On average, organisations manage between 2-3 different types of mobile computing, ranging from laptops and tablets to mobile workstations and wearables. This is especially true for manufacturing, emergency services and logistics – sectors that need rugged agility on the go.

A key benefit of modular design is that the main components of a device remain standardised, enabling efficient and effective updating and management across the workforce. This helps to extend the life of your technology, maintain productivity and save valuable time and resources.

On average, how many PC devices does your IT team or outsourced partner support within your business?

BIOS, firmware and driver updates

Recognising the increasing awareness for security, around 70% of respondents considered regular BIOS, firmware and driver updates important, with the average updates happening between 2.5 and 3 times a year and taking an average of 4 days a year to implement.

How important, or unimportant, to you are manufacturer updates for the BIOS/Firmware/Drivers of the device?

Upgrading end-user systems in the enterprise can be daunting. It can introduce unexpected driver variations from previously qualified platforms, adding image management complexity while increasing hardware support costs. That’s why Panasonic only offers Intel vPro® Enterprise CPUs in its Windows devices with the Intel® Stable IT Platform Program (Intel® SIPP). It features an extensive validation program that aims for no hardware changes throughout the buying cycle, for at least 15 months or until the next generational release.

Fewer hardware changes mean fewer hassles and interruptions for users, resulting in a more seamless overall experience – especially for PC setup and configuration, and PC image deployment.

In addition, Intel validates multiple versions of Windows on any given generation of the platform. This helps businesses better manage OS transitions and take advantage of extended support from Microsoft for any new release.

Conclusion

Organisations should be considering ways to increase the sustainability of their mobile computing devices by breaking the four-year technology refresh cycle. Key considerations are:

Identifying a manufacturer that can offer the full range of rugged and modular notebooks and tablets required to meet the varying needs of the mobile workforce.

Engaging the workforce in hands-on pilot projects to ensure the ergonomic design, functionality and ruggedness of the devices are suitable for the long-term requirements of the business.

Standardising on a modular architecture with easy-fit, click-in accessories and adjustments to customise devices for the changing needs of the user or the organisation – significantly extending the life of the device and simplifying its management.

Choosing a manufacturer that commits to regular security, firmware and BIOS updates and provides Android Enterprise Recommended and Microsoft Secured-Core PCs.

Ensuring extended five-year support for devices after end of life, and extended warranty options for peace of mind.

Designed for sustainability and easy management

Panasonic has recently expanded its range of rugged modular laptops and tablets with the updated TOUGHBOOK 55, the introduction of the TOUGHBOOK G2 rugged tablet and the launch of the TOUGHBOOK 40 – the ultimate rugged notebook. The latter is a 14-inch modular device designed for Defence and ideal for Police and Utilities.

To ensure the security and longevity of devices, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK supports its range of devices for five years after the product’s end of life. ProTect Warranties can also be extended for up to five years for all TOUGHBOOK devices.