The global shortage of electronic chips has hit practically every business in our increasingly digital world. This scarcity — exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as surging demand for consumer electronics — has caused substantial economic implications, including the highest inflation since the early 1980s.

While some experts optimistically estimate that supply and demand for these chips may rebalance as early as mid-2022, others (including Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger) fear the overall semiconductor shortage could last into 2024. And with current lead times of 52 weeks or more for many hardware needs, it’s likely that the chip shortage will continue to affect corporate technology for quite some time.

So what does this mean for your company’s IT department? 

Until the chip shortage relaxes, businesses that are reaching the end of a hardware replacement cycle will struggle to buy new gear. Once readily available items, such as PCs, switches, firewalls, processors and accessories, are hard to come by and can take weeks, even months to ship. In this product-scarce environment, replacing gear “just in time” is no longer an option; planning ahead and having a backup plan is essential.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to avoid product shortages and the resulting downtime.

Preparation Pays Off

Running a business requires planning. ATB Technologies can help you develop or review your organization’s technological roadmap in order to identify any impending technical gaps. As your IT partner, we will help you maintain and replace gear as needed.

Supply chain constraints may prevent your company from getting items quickly, resulting in costly downtime. To avoid rushed orders, increased pricing, unnecessary downtime and delayed shipments, it’s recommended that businesses start planning months or even years ahead.

Due to the continued uncertainty in our world, we recommend that you do not wait for the chip industry’s supply/demand imbalance to improve. Keep in mind that hardware will inevitably degrade or fail over time, so go ahead and order computers, servers, and anything else with a chip you know you’ll need now. In the face of significant and unpredictable lead times, we also recommend keeping a supply of laptops and other necessary hardware on hand for new hires and equipment malfunctions.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Expect increased prices. Demand exceeds supply, so expect to pay more. Prices may vary. If you need something soon, don’t wait for a deal next month; instead, go with what’s already available and ready to ship.
  • Be wary of gray market activity and keep in mind the old adage, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” Illegal dealers selling products on the gray market has long been a problem for IT vendors, made worse by frustrating supply chain disruptions. We advise you to stay patient and avoid bypassing authorized routes just to receive new products faster. These products could be counterfeit or tampered with, making them more prone to security breaches.
  • Turn to the cloud! Using cloud services instead of upgrading your hardware may be feasible for your business and offer a faster, more efficient solution for many business needs. Cloud infrastructure helps free up server capacity, which can relieve some of the strain while you wait for new hardware. Moving to the cloud is not for everyone, however, so be sure to work with your IT partner to find a solution that best meets your business needs.
  • Work with your IT partner to automate patching, backups, and daily maintenance. Regular maintenance will ensure these devices continue to operate at peak efficiency.

There’s no clear end in sight for the chip shortage plaguing the globe, which has made it seemingly impossible at times to procure the hardware and devices necessary to keep your business running. Luckily, a little bit of IT planning goes a long way to make sure you have the hardware you need to avoid any downtime or inconvenience — especially with the help of an experienced IT partner. Contact us today to get started!

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