Stone Group - Providing digital transformation solutions to organisations across the UK.

Public sector funding is definitely a hot topic at the moment; do we have enough money for this? Can we continue to operate using that? What can we do to cut back what we’re spending? Can we get away with using these PCs for another year? These are all questions that are making huge waves across most, if not all areas of the public sector. And for good reason! Whilst budgets may be increasing ever so slightly, mix that with rising inflation and the common message is: it’s simply not enough.

Whilst these issues and concerns are relevant, the fact remains that you shouldn’t be forced into making decisions about limiting resources that are vital for your operation. That’s why the most important question to be asking is – just how do we make sure our spending in some areas doesn’t mean we fall short in others?

Many have suggested cutting back on investing in new and innovative tech, claiming it’s expensive and organisations have operated without it in the past so why can’t they now? This simply isn’t an option though. Technology has innovated all areas of the public sector, from Virtual Reality in Healthcare helping perform operations and rehabilitate paraplegic patients, to the Met Police using facial recognition technology at the Notting Hill Carnival to detect potential threats to the public. There are countless uses for technology across all areas of society.

The fact of the matter is technology, particularly devices, plays a rather important part in the daily efficiencies within the workplace. And as such, investing in hardware shouldn’t be a question of if you should, but rather when you should and how you can do it on a budget.

Many believe that if you want the technology you’ll have to spend the money for the privilege, but that’s no longer true. You can still get access to tech, without paying a premium price point. How? The answer to that comes in the form of refurbished technology. It’s a growing option for many organisations in education, so isn’t it about time the public sector took advantage?

The term ‘refurbished’ comes with a number of misconceptions – ‘the hardware still has data on’, or ‘older kit means poor performance’ and ‘older devices come with old software’, to name but a few. But in today’s technology landscape, this is far from the truth. Take a look at our post on the truth behind refurb and how those common misconceptions are merely myths.

The simple message here is that refurbished tech has the potential to be not only a viable option for the public sector to take advantage of, but a great one. Here’s how:

Tackling the age of current technology

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Have a quick think about the age of some of the kit you’re using in your day to day activities. If you’re lucky enough you may have the latest devices with spectacular specs and glistening software. But let’s be a little more realistic for a second shall we? Most organisations are running out of date technology coupled with out of date software. I’m not sure about you but to me that just screams unreliability and vulnerability.

Just one example of this happening is within the Metropolitan Police. Did you know that they, the biggest police force in the UK, are still using a combination of Windows XP and 8.1? For an office that’s just carrying out everyday accountancy tasks, this may not be a problem from a “productivity” point of view. Bring security into the mix and this where we have a problem.

So, for a police force at the forefront of the UK to be falling this far behind the curve is truly worrying. Not only is it unconducive to general productivity but when you consider the security risks and threats to running an unsupported and outdated operating system (i.e. Windows XP), this puts many organisations in danger. As well as this, you have the recent WannaCry attacks that leave many vulnerable and susceptible to cybercrime. These attacks and threats are real, with more and more organisations getting hit every day, so it’s important to be one step ahead of the technology curve.

Whilst budget cuts give good justification to not investing in new tech – it doesn’t justify not investing in any at all. This is where the idea of refurbished technology comes into play. The obvious reason for this is the price, as many refurbished devices come in at significantly lower prices than brand new devices. It’s also important to remember that, by buying refurbished technology you’ll not only be getting a device that’s cheap and as good as new, but it’ll come with the latest OS installed, and considering what we just found out about XP, this is a big deal.

Nobody can deny that the funding required to update every single one of the devices at the Metropolitan Police or any other public sector organisation for that matter would be huge, but when you aren’t buying a new device, the cost is cut significantly.

For example – your organisation could well be running upwards of at least 200 devices that are 10 years old across your estate, with any range of outdated operating systems installed on them. It isn’t always feasible when taking budgeting capacities into account to replace each of these devices with a brand-new PC boasting the latest software. Instead, you could buy a set of devices that are 3 years old, but still give you access to latest software such as Windows 10 at a significantly lower cost.

There aren’t many people who would argue against the fact that Windows 10 is the obvious choice to upgrade to over its predecessors; it’s supported until 2020, has universal applications available to you and all of the latest supported updates. But you may still be thinking, why don’t I just install Windows 10 on my device running XP and that would work out even cheaper? Well you can, IF the devices that you have live up to the minimum specs required to run this OS effectively.

These requirements may seem reasonably low for the latest devices, however for a lot of hardware platforms that are currently used within the public sector, this is not the case. If your devices can meet the standard that Windows 10 requires then you’ve saved yourself even more money. But even if you need to buy new hardware, refurbished tech provides an affordable option to facilitate effective OS upgrades and keeps your estate protected against malicious attacks at the same time.

Solidifying security

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Something that also seriously needs to be considered is the security issues that come with older devices. If you aren’t running hardware and software that’s supported anymore due to its age, you will be essentially walking a tightrope – when the wind gradually picks up, eventually you’ll fall off.

You may well have your own systems in place that will act as a level of security, but with older devices dropping off the support tree each year, your information and data is being placed in unnecessary danger.

The problem doesn’t just stop with high profile cases such as the Metropolitan Police which I mentioned earlier either. 7% of operating systems used around the world are XP devices, 6.9% are Windows 8.1 and a whopping 48% are Windows 7. The common theme amongst these older systems is the support has either ran out or will run out soon, with end of mainstream support of Windows 8.1 coming in January 2018.

With support running out on many of these operating systems, coupled with the fact that your old devices may well be way out of warranty, a refurbished device makes sense. One thing to consider here is to make sure your supplier is willing to offer some sort of warranty. Many trusted suppliers will offer a warranty if they have faith in the devices longevity and security performance, if there is no warranty in place, you should be questioning why.

You don’t need me to tell you that eventually your devices are going to need to be updated to avoid potential security threats, but with UK organisations being subjected to an average of 230,000 cyber-attacks a year, the time to act could be running out.

Increased productivity on a low budget

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So, refurbished technology can increase the reliability of your tech whilst also proving to be a more secure option than its outdated counterpart, but can it also improve productivity? My answer to you here would again be yes of course! Whilst a refurbished device may not match up to the power and performance of the latest PC kitted out with an 8th Gen i7 processor, they are a significant improvement on older devices, and actually give those brand new platforms a good run for their money in terms of their capabilities.

It’s a fact that aged devices become slower, buggier and less able to complete tasks with the speed and precision that many departments in the public sector require. Let’s have a look at some of the ways that an older device compares to that of refurbished hardware, and how refurb might just be the solution you need when it comes to investing in new tech without paying premium price points:

  • The true capability of running a new OS – earlier we highlighted the minimum requirements for running Windows 10 on a device. However, even if your old device is able to match up to these requirements it’s no guarantee on performance. For example, Gordon Mah Ung put some of these old devices running Windows 10 to the test – the results weren’t great. Whilst they could indeed run the operating system – wait times, decreased battery life and increased weight are all things you’ll have to battle with. If you aren’t willing to deal with these problems, a device upgrade is almost inevitable.
  • Newer (and faster) technology inside – similar to how new devices are made each year, so is the technology that goes into them. A device that was made 10 years ago could’ve been built using components that were of its time or before, therefore won’t be able to perform any better than what was found acceptable at that time. Whereas a device that was made more recently will have similarly more recent technology inside, with better operating capabilities. Plus, this isn’t even the best part about a refurbished device – components such as hard drives and memory can be upgraded to suit your requirements, meaning you could have some of the latest technology inside, even if the chassis is 3 years older!
  • Latest compatible software – not all software that is released is compatible with older and lesser performing devices, so whilst a device may just about be able to run a new OS, it may not be the case with the software you need it to be running. Take Premier Pro in the Adobe Creative Suite for example, the minimum requirement to run this software includes 4GB or RAM (8GB recommended), a whopping 4x more than what is needed for Windows 10. It’s worth taking a look at the software you may want to be using now or in the future as well as your other considerations when deciding if it’s time for you to upgrade.

If you’re still left unsure, have a look at what your organisations technological productivity needs are and then weigh them up with what you are currently operating. If they don’t quite add up then perhaps a refurbished device could solve your problems.

It’s true that there are a series of budget issues flowing around the public sector and it’s solutions such as refurbished tech that’s going to help make sure the limited budget that you do have, goes the distance.

If you’d like to find out some more information about refurbished technology then why not check out our post on refreshing your devices on a budget. Alternatively, you can visit our Encore site to see what options are available to you.

Contact one of our account managers today