Spiceworks announced the results of a new survey examining the lifespan of technology in the workplace. The results show desktops and desk phones are still dominant: 68 percent of organizations report desktops are the primary computing device for employees, compared to only 29 percent using laptops and 1 percent using tablets as the primary device. Additionally, 75 percent of organizations reported employees are using desk phones as their primary telecommunications device, compared to only 16 percent using company-issued smartphones. The findings indicate organizations today are holding on to technology longer than traditional replacement cycles, but as younger generations become the IT decision makers, we may see a shift to new, higher-end devices.
Many organizations run hardware past traditional replacement cycles
When examining how long organizations hold on to their hardware, the results show 70 percent of companies use desktops for five or more years before replacing or decommissioning them, and 24 percent use them for seven or more years. By comparison, 48 percent of companies use laptops for five or more years, but only 8 percent use them for seven or more years. Company-owned tablets and smartphones typically last two to four years.
Larger computing devices and peripherals are among the longest-lasting hardware. For example, 75 percent of organizations use servers for five or more years, and 32 percent use them for seven or more years before replacing or decommissioning them. Seventy-five percent of companies also use printers for five or more years, and 37 percent of organizations use them for seven or more years. Desk phones also have extreme staying power in the workplace: 58 percent of organizations use them for seven or more years, and 22 percent keep them around for 10 or more years. Additionally, 66 percent of organizations still use fax machines, and among those companies, two-thirds hold on to them for seven or more years, while one-third hold on to them for 10 or more years.
Educational institutions hold on to most hardware the longest
When examining the data by industry, the findings indicate educational institutions hold on to most hardware the longest. For example, 45 percent of organizations in education use their desktops for seven or more years (compared to the 24 percent average), and 27 percent use their laptops for seven or more years (compared to the 8 percent average). Educational institutions also hold on to tablets, smartphones, desk phones, and fax machines the longest.
However, when it comes to servers, healthcare organizations keep their servers running the longest: 45 percent of healthcare organizations use their servers for more than seven years (compared to the 32 percent average).
In terms of what drives organizations to replace their hardware, the results show hardware failure is the number one reason: 84 percent of IT decision makers said hardware failure drives them to replace company-owned devices, followed by performance degradation (72 percent) and physical damages (59 percent). Only 29 percent of companies switch out equipment because of replacement policies, and only 26 percent do so because of warranty expiration, which indicates many organizations hold on to devices until they die or become unstable.
Younger generations believe higher-end hardware is more cost effective in the long run
When comparing different generations, younger generations of IT professionals are less confident in the longevity of their organizations' devices than their older counterparts: 79 percent of Gen Z and 87 percent of millennials reported they agree to strongly agree that their devices typically last the expected lifetime, compared to 93 percent Gen X and 97 percent of baby boomers.
The data also indicates younger generations prefer higher-end devices: 69 percent of Gen Z and 62 percent of millennial IT professionals agree to strongly agree that in the long run, it's more cost effective to invest in higher-end devices than budget-friendly devices, compared to 51 percent of Gen Xers and 52 percent of baby boomers.
"Many businesses try to squeeze as much value out of their hardware as possible, using budget-friendly tech perhaps longer than they should and only replacing it when performance slows to a crawl or fails," said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. "But this inefficient and potentially risky behavior may begin to shift as younger IT pros take on decision making roles. In general, Gen Z and millennials prefer to invest in higher-end devices — which are often more reliable and better performing — because they believe doing so is more cost effective in the long run."
The Spiceworks survey was conducted in July 2018 and included 1,372 respondents from organizations across North America and Europe. Respondents are among the millions of business technology professionals in Spiceworks and represent a variety of company sizes, including small-to-medium-sized businesses and enterprises. Respondents come from a variety of industries, including education, healthcare, nonprofits, government, finance, retail, construction, manufacturing, and IT services. The generational data includes Generation Z born 1998 and later, millennials born 1981 to 1997, Generation X born 1965 to 1980, and baby boomers born 1946 to 1964. For more information and a complete list of survey results, visit https://community.spiceworks.com/blog/3103-data-snapshot-the-lifespan-of-computers-and-other-tech-in-the-workplace.