By Sam Burd
Special to The Nation
Fast forward to today and the narrative has changed. Worldwide PC shipments rose 17.1 per cent year on year in the third quarter of 2020, while smartphone shipments are projected to drop 1.3 per cent year on year in the same quarter, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).
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 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 of thinking about something.
We’ve been designing innovative PCs that can help you “work from anywhere” for years, but now we’ve been given a rare opportunity to step back, rethink and use this time as a catalyst for positive, innovative change.
IT doesn’t touch the PC
Dell has always put the needs of people at its core, with support available at every stage of a company’s journey to provide a productive and connected digital workforce.
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. And how the promise of predictive maintenance means problems fix themselves before they manifest.
A future where an IT professional never physically touches a PC again? That’s a revival that could benefit us all.
With AI, PC stands for personal companion
With ever-increasing demands, we need PCs that do more than just work. We need PCs that are more intelligent, self-aware and user aware. We recently introduced Dell Optimizer, our AI-based software that learns and adapts to how you work and provides faster app launches, extended battery life, 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, getting rid of challenges like connecting to the local network or setting up a printer.
Imagine ubiquitous connectivity and 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 work and home life. Setting appointments or making recommendations based on contextual data will be simple tasks completed in the background for you.
Collaboration, connectivity take spotlight
The industry has long focused on offering the smallest and lightest devices possible. And Dell has worked towards balancing the demand for compact form 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, 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.
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
When I think about a renaissance of the PC, I imagine us being able to bring these “premium” experiences to more employees.
Beyond the look and feel of devices, premium is about offering features you care about, like low blue-light technology and privacy shutters for when you log many hours a day on your device.
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 crucial to secure 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.
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.
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 for Dell Technologies’ Client Solutions Group.