For small businesses (SMBs) the margins between success and failure are tiny. So, it’s vital to do everything possible to maximise employee performance and minimise costs, and this is where the company’s choice of business technology plays a pivotal role.
Yet research has continually shown that many SMBs are slow to move to modern PCs, even though such a PC Refresh – the act of regularly upgrading computers being used in the organisation -- enables them to cut bottom-line costs and improve productivity.
A 2014 study by Techaisle  found that 36% of SMBs had PCs that were four years or older, which resulted in application and system performance issues, malware attacks and connectivity issues for many of the respondents. This, in turn, had a direct impact on diminishing productivity and employee satisfaction.
The study – which surveyed 736 SMBs across six countries (the US, China, India, Russia, Germany and Brazil) – revealed that repairing a four-year-old PC costs an average of $427, 1.3 times the amount for newer PCs.
“The repair cost therefore either equals or even exceeds the purchase price of some new PCs”, Techaisle poignantly concluded at the time.
But it’s not just cost where SMBs with ageing PCs are losing out: older devices hinder employee productivity too. Techaisle found that an average of 42 productive work hours a year are lost through ageing computers being repaired – yet newer PCs cut that downtime in half. Older PCs also have trouble running multiple applications at once, consume more power, and have a shorter battery life.
Meanwhile, upgrading offers plenty of advantages: research shows that new devices can increase productivity, improve application performance, cut operating costs, provide better end-point security, and deliver broader choice to an increasingly mobile workforce.
And intriguingly, if four-years-old is the time when PCs are demonstrably more expensive to maintain than replace, new Intel® research  shows that many SMBs in Japan are right now at the point of needing to refresh their PCs.
An Intel January 2018 survey of over 200 Japanese SMBs, carried out in partnership with technology publisher IDG, found that the average age of their PCs is exactly four years. And critically, 7 in 10 of these respondents said that PC-related issues like software issues and security updates were contributing to lost productivity.
Yet, as is often the case, the barriers to upgrading are both cultural and technological, with the Intel study revealing that the most common barrier to PC refresh was a belief that most PCs were ‘still in good condition’. Approximately 35% of small business managers cited this as the biggest barrier, followed by cost/budget (29%).
“It seems that replacing a PC to update the OS version is wasteful when the PC itself has no problem,” said one small business owner in the study.
What do SMBs need?
So what devices should these companies be moving to when they do upgrade? The decision can be difficult for SMBs not least because they typically lack a designated person to look after IT (so-called ‘unmanaged IT’): they simply cannot afford to employ the teams of IT experts enjoyed by much larger organisations.
This means that SMBs would be best seeking a desktop hardware and software combination that is trusted and proven, and automatically keeps them up-to-date with the latest software features, without them needing to step in act.
Top-level hardware performance is obviously important for employee productivity, but another key consideration for SMBs is that they increasingly use multiple applications, which means that faster switching between apps and multitasking are important features.
As the Techaisle study noted, newer PCs allowed small business owners to run 60% more applications simultaneously without any degradation in performance, compared to PCs that are four years or older.
“This is a significant improvement,” reads the report, “as small businesses are increasingly using several different types of apps simultaneously, including business productivity apps, email and web, online chat and video, line of business applications, social media interactions, finance and accounting.”
All of these requirements are met by the new generation of PCs powered by Intel’s latest Core™ vPro™ processors, running the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system.
The Intel-Microsoft combination is trusted and innovative: for over a decade, the two firms have designed hardware and software solutions that go together and, amidst rapid digital transformation, this experience and alignment provide valuable peace of mind.
In fact, nine out of 10 business computers are said to run on Intel, and analysts say that 80% of corporate customers will complete their deployment of Windows 10 by 2019, making it the fastest adopted version of the operating system in history.
One key reason for this is that as a new-style service, Windows 10 fundamentally moves away from ‘versions’ that used to hold back innovation. With quicker, more frequent updates, Windows 10 automatically keeps small businesses on the latest technology 
Complementing this, PCs that run the latest Intel vPro™ processors offer high performance in crucial areas for SMBs, who cannot afford to waste employee time.
This includes instant boot-up (zero to compute in 0.5 seconds) and up to 65% faster multitasking than five-year-old PCs so staff can effortlessly switch between apps. This is achieved through Intel’s Speed Shift Technology, which automatically adjusts performance to focus on the most important apps, while applications running in the background reserve power.
The overall impact is around 50% better productivity for employees. These devices also deliver up to 10 hours of battery life which means users can get the most out of their PCs, whether they are working in an office, coffee shop or airport.
Meanwhile, Cortana, the ‘personal assistant’ on Windows* 10 devices, offers features that may especially appeal to SMBs. It can send emails and texts, search the web, open any app on your system; it quickly lets you see what meetings you have, and even sets reminders of actions that will pop up when the relevant person calls you.
PC Refresh is pivotal for smaller businesses, who are operating in an ‘unmanaged IT’ environment and failing to get the most out of technology solutions. Indeed, research has continually shown that PC Refresh is paramount for small businesses if they want to stay competitive.
Upgrading to new Intel processor and Windows 10-based PCs gives SMBs benefits including increased productivity, better performance, greater staff satisfaction, and faster response to customer needs and demands.
With their top-level performance, these PCs can have a huge impact not only on SMBs’ bottom-line costs, but also employee productivity and happiness, and subsequently on their business agility and performance as a whole. As employees become faster, smarter and more efficient, so too does the business – vital for Japanese SMBs working in a highly competitive business environment.
 https://techaisle.com/end-point-device-pcs-tablets-white-papers/28-the-ageing-pc-effect-exposing-financial-impact-for-small-businesses, The Ageing PC Effect – Exposing Financial Impact for Small Businesses, Techaisle
 IDG- Intel PC Refresh small business Japan, December 2017
 Gartner Says Migration to Windows* 10 Will Be the Fastest Yet, Gartner.com
 As measured by SEG572, which is an office productivity and multitasking workload using Word (save to PDF), Excel (recalc), PowerPoint (slide sort), and NXPowerLite Desktop (to shrink contents with office documents, kind of like compression), all while playing video in the background (simulating the watching of a business training or webcast).
 As measured by an overall score of SYSmark* 2014, which is a benchmark from the BAPCo* consortium that measures the performance of Windows* platforms. SYSmark tests three usage scenarios, including office productivity, media creation and data/financial analysis using real applications from independent software vendors such as Microsoft* and Adobe*.
For more information, visit Intel (Japan)