Supply chain issues have wreaked havoc on many industries this year and last. From extensive wait times to just not being able to get things at all, it has changed how we do business both now, and likely in the future.
Today we're going to provide an update on what the IT-side of the supply chain looks like and what you can expect now and in the coming months.
Currently, we've seen quite a bit of easing in the desktop/laptop space. Most of your general purpose, office-use systems have good availability and, while not quite back to 2018/19 levels, can typically be obtained in a couple of business days. In addition, pricing is starting to come back down to a slightly more reasonable level for these systems so if you're looking at updating a part of your GP fleet, now is as good a time as any to do so.
Where things start to break down is with the higher-end workstations and specialty systems. Workstations for things like CAD design or heavy accounting are hit or miss currently with some wait times reaching out several months. Pricing has also not come down as much on these systems as with the more general purpose units and are still typically running at an even higher premium than normal. End of the day, if you're needing to add some of these systems to your existing fleet, get your orders in now, if you're looking at upgrading/replacing existing systems, you may elect to wait a little bit to see if things ease up a bit.
Server-land is a bit of a mess currently. While many components are starting to see regular availability, specialty components and the actual server boxes themselves are extremely iffy. General availability is around 8 weeks while some server systems are stretching out as far as 6 months. Specialty servers are even longer. Pricing on servers is always expensive and it is no different today with pricing on some systems and components being up to 20% higher than 2018/19 levels.
If you're going to be needing to upgrade your server(s), you'd best get on the waiting list now. Alternatively, you may also consider taking a good look at the feasibility of moving things to the cloud which can provide it's own range of benefits in addition to being more readily available.
Networking and WiFi
Networking has been hit hard by supply chain problems which is an issue because what good are all the desktops, laptops and servers if you can't network them together to talk to each other? Firewalls are currently in the best shape and are more hit than miss for the time being, however switches and WiFi access points are extremely limited in availability with some backorders stretching up to a year out!
Knowing this, it is extremely important to try and protect your existing equipment as much as possible to avoid unexpected and prolonged outages. It also may not hurt to try and source out some backup equipment should something fail so you're not completely up a creek. If you're running older equipment, you should probably be looking to get on the waiting list now as you may be waiting quite a while to get things.
Printers are a bit of a mix in terms of availability. Small, personal inkjet printers have seen slight issues but nothing major and you can usually swing by any old office supply store and walk out with an OfficeJet or Pixma with relative ease. Laser printers, printers actually used in business environments, on the other hand are very scarce and even the most popular models have wait times in the multiple-month range.
Pricing is also on the way up with most manufacturers pushing pricing up 5-10% this year over last. However additional increases appear likely as Brother has recently announced another price increase targeted for late Q3 and if they follow through, it's a safe bet most other manufacturers will follow.
There are still several other types of additional equipment which are subject to issues. Peripherals like monitors are starting to see more availability while things like keyboards and mice have not really gone out of stock any more than usual. Battery backups however are another sore spot seeing extended wait times as well as price increases.
Cables, once a sensitive sore spot are fortunately back to mostly normal levels in terms of availability. However, many of the most common brands are seeing notable price increases to event he most common cable types. So make sure employees are careful with their phone charging cables as it's about to get a bit more expensive to replace them.
Overall, supply chain issues have affected every industry and IT is no different. Current forecasts put the earliest possibility for "returning to normal" sometime mid to late next year. However those projections should be taken with a grain of salt as a lot can happen in a year which can further disrupt, or alleviate, the issues. As a result, including technology as a core part of business strategy has never been more important than it is now.