Monitors are one of the most overlooked aspects of client computing. In many cases we just take it for granted that the monitor in place can remain in place for as long as we want it to, which is generally quite a while.
Before I proceed, as always the disclaimer. the comments and content on this blog represent my own opinions and not those of my employer.
If your business has a CRT fleet then you know as we all do that the regulations to dispose of those devices are now significant. The weight alone to palletize or ship older CRT's can be onerous now to say the least. Obtaining a certificate of destruction is now a must have type of item.
For many businesses (and perhaps a majority of us) the monitors are handled as a fleet. The monitors are bought en masse, expensed, and likely forgotten until an end user indicates their monitor is broken or we have to replace it. As a fleet, monitors useful lives are frequently viewed as 4 years minimum, 5 years or more if we can (and many can).
However, the monitor business just as client computing is having a bit of a renaissance of sorts. My opinion is that high definition television and laptop monitors have a great impact of this. This is another one of the cross over implication from consumerization. We in IT tend not to be concerned about monitors until we have to be. Perhaps that is not a good position to be in any longer.
The business case for newer monitors is compelling. I would make the following points to validate the perception- energy management and power consumption, residual value of the older monitors, screen size, definition, weight and footprint.
From an energy management and power consumption perspective, think about it in this context, the technology that is 5 years old today cannot come close to Energy Star compliance. If you check the government Energy Star website you could do a side by side comparison to what you might have in the installed base today compared to newer monitors. What you would likely find is a savings similar to desktops $30 per year in terms of power reductions. With Windows 7 and power management setting, these figures are improved even more. The acquisition pricing of monitors is lower than they have ever been before. The argument that was recited before was that the monitor cost was too high, I do not believe that to be the case any longer if the full business case is considered.
The second part of the business case could be the remaining value or the residual value of the monitors in place. All of the tier 1 OEM's and partners have trade in menus that one can test this out. I believe what you would find is that CRT's have 0 value and that it may cost the business to dispose of them. Older flat panels may suffer from the same fate or have a nominal value remaining. The art behind this aspect of a monitor technology refresh is to replace the monitors before the residual value is nil.
Screen size is another factor today in monitors, 19" may be the new norm. Think about monitors the same way we think about BYOC, influenced by the home experience. More homes have high definition capabilitiesand larger screen sizes.
Related to all of this is the definition aspect and color. Aside from the obvious consumer impact (larger is better) consider that the color range and variability that is available today. If one is a workstation user, the direction desired is clear.
Size and weight matters. Older monitors weigh considerably more and take up considerably more real estate on the desktop. These seem to me to be the same argument used in discussing a desktop technology refresh.
The final point I would make in the dialog regarding monitors is that it may be time to reconsider how we manage these devices- I am not sure the generic fleet approach still works given the pace of innovation.
The deciding factor may be the most important- end user satisfaction may be the rationale to update the monitor fleet. New hires will not look kindly to older monitors to do their work, and end users know what they have at home. Maybe it is time for a BYOM (bring your own monitor to work).
What are your thoughts?