...most likely replacement for the traditional desktop.
"In five years' time we will have tablets with a small plastic keyboard attached to 'paper' that rolls out to be a screen, all access will be via the cloud and the only choice is whether to use private or public clouds. PCs are almost dead now," Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at LCH.Clearnet said.
Madhushan Gokool, IT manager at Storm Model Management, predicted tablets and laptops will become the dominant devices, "especially as remote working and working from home becomes more common".
"I am still a keyboard user and find the iPad keyboard harder to use but as the demographics change the touch generation will be the key users and as such will be in the majority," Mike Tonkiss, IT director at Neopost, added.
Alan Bawden, IT and operations director at the JM Group, said the rise of the tablet will come - but not necessarily soon. "I can see tablets replacing the ubiquitous laptop with a docking station type set-up and this may prove to be the main challenge to the trusty PC," he said. "The vast majority of PC users are probably desk-bound and will remain that way for the forseeable future."
Not everyone is convinced it's all over for the desktop PC, though. Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO at Sodexo Northern Europe, said the PC must "and will" survive alongside other devices for accessing and processing information.
Neil Hammond, CIO at British Sugar, added: "In five years' time the PC will still be an important computing device for business use, but not necessarily the dominant device. The flexibility and convenience of more mobile devices, together with inevitable improvements in the UI, will see the traditional PC declining in popularity."
For Neil Harvey, IT director at Sindlesham Court, the reality of business means the technology landscape is unlikely to change any time soon: "The image of the typical business person as so often portrayed in commercials and the media generally, and in widely watched programmes like The Apprentice, is far from reality for most.
"For the majority of IT users in the real business world, life is based in an office or workshop, with a desk, and a need to perform necessary but routine tasks which require a stable machine and a clear, often large, readable screen - in other words a PC."
Poorly engineered enterprise applications may also mean PCs still have a role in the business. Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at Hearst Magazines UK, said that when corporate apps such as ERP and BI are delivered via a browser, they "often end up only really working properly in Microsoft Internet Explorer, which means you need a PC anyway".
He added: "One thing that really makes my blood boil is the futility of having to use a terminal-services type solution to access IE running virtually on a PC, from a Mac, iPad or whatever.
"Only when systems are developed to give a native, standards-compliant, browser-independent user interface, can we become device independent. And I just don't think there is the will in the industry to pick up the pace of change to redevelop so much legacy code with sufficient speed."
Today's silicon.com CIO Jury:
- Alan Bawden, IT and operations director, The JM Group
- Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director, Hearst Magazines UK
- Kevin Fitzpatrick, CIO, Sodexo Northern Europe
- Madhushan Gokool, IT manager, Storm Model Management
- Neil Hammond, CIO, British Sugar
- Neil Harvey, IT director, Sindlesham Court
- Matthew Oakeley, CIO, Schroders
- Stephen Potter, CIO, World-Check
- Mike Roberts, IT director, The London Clinic
- Martin Shaw, director of IT, TDX Group
- Mike Tonkiss, IT director, Neopost
- Graham Yellowley, technology lead, equities, LCH.Clearnet
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Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.