New Zealand businesses have given a resounding yes to the network computer, according to a survey by IDG of the 1000 biggest companies in the country.
Participants in the survey were asked what proportion of their total PCs and terminals they expected network computers (NCs) to make up in the next five years.
Thirty-nine per cent of business users said their entire network would be NCs within five years and 61% expect NCs to make up 50% of their network within that period. One fifth of the respondents say they will have NCs within the next 12 months.
Air New Zealand is one company likely to be ordering truckloads of NCs in the future.
"Those figure don't surprise me in the least," says Air New Zealand IS director Garth Biggs. "To put it simplistically, you have to differentiate between knowledge workers and process workers. Knowledge workers will probably continue to go with PCs because they need the functionality. But the lower total cost of ownership for NCs make them the choice for process workers--people who work on things like reservations and checking systems, transaction-driven systems.
"Today, 50% of Air New Zealand desktops are dumb terminals. In the future you'll see NCs in all the places where we are surviving today with dumb terminals."
Smaller organisations that don't have huge investments in the mainframe-dumb terminal type infrastructure are less likely to go with NCs.
However, Keri Gibson of retail store Rendells--a site which is predominantly terminal-based--is not convinced. She says the company is considering a rewrite of its Pick applications in another two years and may change its systems then, but whether it will be using NCs is still too far in the future to say.
Also unsure is Barry Knight, IS manager for Auckland-based Niro, a manufacturer of dairy industry machinery.
"We've looked at a number of NC-type products, one running WinCentre Pro, and although they've got possibilities I don't see them working for us. They're not really any cheaper than PCs and although we're told they'll never be outdated because you only have to upgrade the server, when you look at how much video cards and drivers and the likes have changed over the past few years you have to doubt that claim.
"So my answer is no, we won't be going with NCs--but I haven't written off the idea. I'm still willing to be persuaded."
Meanwhile, Robert Lance, of Simunovich Fisheries, says his company will not be looking at NCs. "We're just now moving to client-server and I still think there is a lot of processing to be done on the desktop."