The laptop detection technology from Absolute Software has always interested me from a consumer perspective, but what benefits does it actually offer to businesses? After all, how many laptops are stolen on a regular basis and need to be recovered?
I talked to Lorrayne Smith, distributed systems team leader at communications firm KCOM Group, who helps to oversee IT hardware assets including 1,100 laptops and 900 desktops. Add to the equation the company's 2,000 employees across nine locations, and the fact that many of them work on customer sites, and the challenge becomes a big one.
Ahead of the deployment of Absolute Software's Computrace three years ago, KCOM Group chose to lease its hardware, rather than buy it outright, meaning it needed to take extra care in tracking the whereabouts of its IT assets.
Talking to SC magazine, Smith said: “The main reason we used Absolute Software was because we had PCs and desktops and needed to get hardware back. Once it was implemented we used Computrace to do a data wipe so, if a laptop is stolen, we have not lost data.
“It has solved an issue in tracking PCs, as often they are used for working from home by engineers. We send out replacements too, and sometimes it is a challenge to get the laptop back, which is why we use Absolute Software to track PCs if they have not ‘called home' in 30 days.
“We use it as a capability, but it is all about keeping a close eye on the assets, as we are low on number of stock and it is important to get them back. We find that if someone has [a laptop] and is leaving, they tend to keep it back for the next starter.”
Computrace is able to pinpoint a laptop's location as soon as it connects to the Internet, so KCOM Group can identify a missing machine and know precisely where it can be retrieved from.
“Keeping track of employees' laptops can be a nightmare in terms of administration and organisation, and that's before you've made allowances for human error. No matter how hard you try, it is inevitable that laptops will occasionally be misplaced,” Smith said.
She added: “We had a laptop stolen and I got an email saying it had been recovered by the police. We left this in Absolute Software's hands and they tracked it – we did not have to do anything.”
The deployment has also reduced 'PC drift', as information obtained from the Absolute Customer Centre can determine when a computer has not been used for some time; the device is then located so it can be redistributed elsewhere.
“Without Computrace, we would not have known where a faulty laptop was and it would have sat in the drawer for months, when it could have been repaired and given to another employee to use. More importantly, a laptop left in an unlocked drawer presents a big security risk when the data is potentially confidential,” said Smith.