When did you last invest in new technology for your business?
This year? Last year? A few years ago?
Perhaps you’re using a mixture of old and new – replacing equipment and software whenever outdated systems breakdown. Chances are there’s at least one piece of equipment or software in your business that’s ageing and in need of replacement – but maybe you haven’t got around to replacing it just yet.
We know many business owners put off investing in new technology. Often, it’s because they want to avoid the cost of replacing old equipment. But there’s also a perceived loss of productivity that puts people off updating hardware or software. But failing to update technology could actually be costing your business far more (in time and money) than it’s saving.
When thinking about the damage old technology can cause to your business, you might immediately think of productivity issues. When a computer is down or a member of staff can’t access a particular piece of software, it’s easy for everyone to see the impact. But there are lots of other issues that can arise in your business when you cling to old technologies that are past their sell-by-date.
Let’s take a look.
1. Increased stress
Depending on the culture within your business, you might find your teams are very vocal about the problems old tech is causing. Or instead, they may keep quiet and just try to get the job done, despite the issues they’re facing. Either way, battling with IT problems weekly or daily puts a strain on your people.
When you can’t do your job efficiently, it causes a great deal of stress. Deadlines might be missed, team members might be worried about letting colleagues down, and there is a feeling of helplessness when systems don’t work.
With this pressure, staff become less productive, less motivated and more likely to take time off sick with a huge rise in lost hours and increased recruitment costs.
Conversely, when technology is up-to-date, productivity and morale rise. Teams enjoy their work and rather than spending the day battling IT issues, can invest their time on more profitable activities.
2. Processes are ignored
Successful businesses rely on staff following the correct processes. But when IT doesn’t work properly, it can force employees to take short cuts or workarounds simply to get the job done.
Of course, as soon as unapproved processes and working methods are introduced into the business, things quickly start to go wrong. Calls, orders and tasks might not be recorded correctly and you can soon lose control of everyday processes.
3. Security risks
A survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI found that 60 per cent of medium-sized firms and 31 per cent of small businesses have experienced security breaches or cyber-attacks. This shows it’s not only large companies that are at risk from cyber-attacks. Businesses of all sizes are prey for cyber criminals and the risks grow when you’re using old technology.
Viruses, malware, denial of service; the threats to your business are always increasing and hardware manufacturers and software developers are constantly working to beat cyber criminals. That means the latest version of any technology will be the most robust when it comes to protecting your business from security threats.
Old technology is especially vulnerable to attack as outdated systems are often no longer supported by the company that created them. With no security updates, new issues are not addressed and it’s unlikely that you’ll even find out about the risks until it’s too late.
For example, if your operating system is out-of-date, you’ll be missing out on the latest features, such as security patches, that will fix vulnerabilities from older versions. You might think the solution is to save money by uploading the latest operating system onto an old machine. The problem is older models might not have the processing power to handle the new operating system efficiently. As a result, even with the new operating system in place, your business could still be open to security risks – as well as the downtime caused by trying to make a new OS work with old hardware. Read more about the implications of downtime.
If you handle customer data, you have an even greater responsibility to ensure information is kept safe. Many viruses are created specifically to steal this type of information. If data is stolen by cyber criminals, you could receive huge fines as well as losing loyal customers and destroying your company’s reputation.
4. Compliance issues
Depending on the sector you operate in, you may have a regulatory obligation to ensure your IT systems and network security are up-to-date. It’s therefore important to keep on top of your industry compliance standards and ensure you are meeting them – or risk hefty fines. For example, if you process payments through Visa and Mastercard, you must comply with Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations which includes ensuring you are using a modern operating system.
5. Lost customers
If your business is compromised due to a security breach, the risk of losing customers is high. But there are lots of other ways old technology can cause you to lose customers.
If you’re unable to respond to customer enquiries efficiently, or process orders as quickly as your competitors, it’s likely that customers will begin to look elsewhere.
With fast computer systems and efficient software, you’ll be able to bring up customer information in a couple of clicks. So, when a customer gets in touch with a question, your staff will be able to give an instant answer. With old, slow, outdated tech; it’s more likely that your staff will have to say ‘we’ll get back to you’.
Customers don’t want to wait and if your competitor is providing enhanced service, you risk losing their custom.
6. Expensive emergency fixes
With a clear IT strategy and investment plan, you can create an annual budget for hardware and software upgrades, allowing you to stay up-to-date and in control of costs. If you don’t have a strategy and instead stick with old technology until the day it lets you down; the costs can be unexpected and far higher.
When a piece of equipment fails and your business can no longer operate, it’s likely that you’ll have to seek emergency IT support. This will naturally be more costly than planned preventative support. The outcome may be that you need to replace equipment – and you may rush to find a quick fix to get your business up and running – rather than being able to research the best options and deals.
If you’re paying an IT support company to fix little niggles on a daily basis, it’s likely to cost much more than updating old technology. You could find the cost of your investment is quickly repaid in the cost-savings made by not needing daily support for those annoying little fixes.
7. Increased operational costs
If you’re trying to reduce energy costs within your business, it pays to look at your use of technology. Old systems don’t have the latest modern power-saving technology of newer equipment. That means if you have a lot of kit within your offices, you could make major energy savings by investing in newer devices.
And of course, when systems are running efficiently, you save on staffing costs too. With newer software and hardware and collaborative applications such as Microsoft Teams, you could find your people are able to achieve much more each day, creating a more efficient use of your employee resource.
8. A business that’s stuck in the past
The most successful businesses move with the times. This could mean providing staff with flexible working options, allowing them to work from home, or while commuting.
Providing options for flexible working makes it easier to recruit and retain the best staff. This can dramatically cut your recruitment and training costs.
Naturally, to maintain security you need to be confident that systems and hardware are safe and secure when being used outside the office environment. As we’ve already seen, older technology simply doesn’t provide the security you need and this is especially true if your staff are using old devices or out-dated operating systems.
9. Lost opportunities
A successful business is one that’s agile and ready to respond to new opportunities. But if you’re busy fixing IT problems or resolving issues caused by old technology, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to invest time in business growth.
We’ve seen countless industries disrupted by new start-ups who are working more efficiently and giving customers what they want. By sticking with old systems and technologies, you risk being overtaken by competitors who aren’t even on your radar yet.
In this article, we’ve been looking at the hidden issues caused by old technology. These are all in addition to the more obvious issues old tech causes for the productivity in your business such as the extra time it takes to complete everyday tasks. Or the time spent waiting for IT fixes and the disruption to colleagues as they try to help one another, or share computer equipment.
So, if you’re ready to take control, don’t wait for your tech to fail, put a plan in place today and enjoy all the benefits that new technology delivers to your business.
How often should I replace technology?
You might be wondering how old technology is before it’s no longer fit for purpose. Well, it depends on the particular piece of equipment or software system but here’s a rough guideline:
How often should you replace office laptops? We recommend replacing laptops roughly every three years. If you’re not sure if your office laptops need replacing, your IT support provider will be able to advise as part of a regular health check.
How often should you replace office desktops? We expect desktop computers to last around three years before they will need upgrading. This is in line with the recommended manufacturer warranty. Again, your IT support provider will be able to advise.
How often should you upgrade your operating system? It’s important to regularly update your operating system when prompted by the provider. Remind staff to keep on top of updates. It can be tempting to hit ‘postpone’ when you want to get started with another task but keeping software up-to-date can create much greater time-saving benefits throughout the day.
Make sure you know what operating system you are using and whether it’s the latest version. We recommend always using the latest version or the one prior to this but never anything older.
The latest version of Windows, for example, is Windows 10. If you are using anything older than Windows 8 (as Windows 9 was never released), then it’s time to upgrade.
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