PCs in the workplace: Will they survive?

Will the traditional computer hardware in your control room go the way of the floppy disk?


I have noticed a lot of chatter lately on various forums and in articles about how tablets and smartphones are starting to become significant players in today’s workplace. The word is that the new devices are slowly replacing the PC on more common tasks such as email and even more complex tasks such as process control. This brings up an interesting question, how will the steady popularity and functionality of tablets and smartphones affect the presence of the PC in the workplace? Will the PC survive or will it gradually yield more tasks away to the newer devices? Or will it revamp and reverse the downward trend and sliding market share?

The PC has been a common fixture in the workplace since the early 1980s when IBM introduced its Personal Computer. Much advancement has been made to the PC along the way such as processor speed, storage space advancements, network types and speeds, and peripheral devices such as scanners, CD drives, external hard drives, etc. Through the years, various storage media have come and gone as file sizes grew. Similar to PC advancements, the cellular phone has enjoyed a similar rise in success, especially of late. With the introduction of smartphones and touchscreens, cell phone functionality has morphed basically into a small computer that fits into the palm of your hand. These devices have entered into arenas that were solely dominated by the PC for many years such as email, document and spreadsheet creation, web surfing, scanning, etc. Now, with the addition of tablets, the cousin of the smartphone, one has to wonder what role these devices will play in the future workplace and what role the PC will play.

Are we on the cusp of the next great thing with tablets and smart phones? Or will they co-exist with traditional keyboards and mice, giving us the best of both worlds? Only time will tell.

This post was written by Art Howell. Art is a senior engineer at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading system integrator providing industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services in the manufacturing and process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, and business process optimization. The company provides a full range of automation and controls services – ranging from batch control process consulting to outage planning services and  plant safety audits. Additionally MAVERICK offers industrial and technical staffing services, placing on-site automation, instrumentation and controls engineers.

Umjad , Netherlands, 07/14/13 01:22 PM:

What you say is very true. This started from the very first computing devices made in the in late 40's to 50's, 60's etc... In the past they were big and consumed alot of power. At this moment we have devices that compact huge processing power into small frame size. The PC can do "big data" work and the smaller devices (mobile phones, tablets, phablets etc are feeding data) all connected (wired/wireless) to the PC, and displaying all in real time. The PC is not going away, just as the mainframe has not gone away. The PC is just another component in a long line of ever increasing processing power capability. "Big data" applications (wheather/Nuclear/Space travel) all require huge processing capabilities. The small gadgets(mo-phones, tablets), PC and mainframes will get more powerful and also become smaller in size.
Doug , IL, United States, 07/18/13 01:08 PM:

Having worked for Xerox for 15 years in the midst of the "paperless transition" I have to chuckle at the demise of the PC in the workplace (or the home)......This month, Doug Englebart, the inventor of the computer "pointing device" (aka mouse) died....

Tablets and touch screens will indeed replace keyboards and mouse/pointers, but they will still have their place. After all, the QWERTY keyboard still hangs on!

I'm mostly interested in leveraging the power of a tablet to replace the user interface on appliances, mobile vehicles, etc. Your tablet will become your car's key, dashboard, engine computer all-in-one.
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