The way individuals and businesses consume hardware products is changing: Hardware–as–a–Service (HaaS) is seeing to that, writes Ashley Sterland, Communications Director at The Change Organisation, the market-leading UK independent distributor of computer hardware and IT. This enterprising little business model involves companies offering packages that include hardware, software, maintenance – and occasionally – installation, for a monthly fee. There are numerous advantages in signing-up for this ‘all-inclusive’ service in which the technology and expertise is rented rather than owned. As drivers who elect to lease cars under three or five-yearly lease schemes will no doubt attest; ‘the moment you drive a new car off the forecourt its value depreciates – so what’s the point in paying top dollar to own one’?
It’s the same with computer equipment. Systems and packages evolve at such a rate, today’s state-of-the art, cutting-edge software will soon become yesterday’s outmoded equipment left clogging-up the office storeroom because its owners can’t even give it away. As customer and business demands change as fast as the rapidly-increasing range and availability of digital connectivity, the temptation to ‘hook-up’ with a provider which can recognise industry developments and implement them as necessary has surely never been greater.
HaaS has other benefits, too. In the event of a malfunction or software glitch, maintenance is all part of the all-in-one service. It means faults can potentially be rectified more quickly than data centres being monitored remotely. And besides, if the HaaS hardware provider fails in its duty to provide an efficient, well-maintained service, then the end-user has fair grounds to take their business elsewhere – a not-so traumatic move as more providers adopt the HaaS model and competition increases. With HaaS, concerns over equipment becoming obsolete are largely removed – as long as the provider is of proven quality and reliability, of course.
HaaS inspires a whole new working relationship between vendor and customer. A one-off transaction can be extended to a long-term deal, leading to closer business ties between parties. HaaS involves relatively little upfront cost; a real incentive for a new or small business taking its first tentative steps towards installing a fully-integrated system and wanting to avoid unnecessary financial risk.
Ultimately, HaaS offers flexibility to the customer. It also ensures providers – if they want to retain business – are more beholden to the end-user, engendering a sense of freedom and empowerment among those who formerly despaired or felt burdened by their in-house technology.