Most small business owners would admit that their investments in technology are not made frequently enough, but it is understandable why some are apprehensive about spending their hard-earned money on tools they know very little about – so what if it’s dated tech that you are using - as long as it works does it matter? The answer is yes, it does! If you are using outdated tech there may be serious problems lurking under the surface. When did you last invest in modern technology for your company - was it years ago?
The majority of small businesses have both old and new technology integrated into the intricate workflows of their organisations. They may also believe the best approach is of ‘replacing when necessary’ - specifically when equipment and software has become outdated or in the rare event of a system breaking down. This is due to the belief that a complete overhaul of your systems would be far too disruptive to workflow, making a slow gradual approach the far more appealing option.
There is likely a piece of hardware or software that is ageing in your organisation right now, that desperately needs replacing. It is just ‘finding the time’ to do so – but it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming transformation with the right education or IT consultancy to help you on your way.
The hidden issues of old technology in your business:
Higher costs -
Environmental changes are becoming common all over the world. You may be attempting to join ‘the green initiative’ or perhaps it’s the opportunity for reducing energy costs that appeals to you. Old systems don’t give you the power-saving features that newer technology does. If your office is full of old tech, you will find that investing in newer devices will have a massive effect on the energy costs across your entire organisation.
Efficiency means savings. The better the technology – and education around its use – the more effective and productive your company will be. You will find the need to decrease your large workforce, and, as your existing team’s reliance on tech increases, your productivity levels will rocket, in turn increasing revenue. For example, many businesses around the world adopted Microsoft Teams at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic: its popularity has only increased to a point at which it now has an average daily user count of 250 million people worldwide – it increased levels of communication, collaboration, and productivity amongst teams by making the workday run smoother and more seamlessly from any location.
Expensive fixes -
Of course, you allocate part of your yearly budget on hardware and software upgrades, and to be sure this happens it must be part of an IT strategy; it is the only way you can control costs and not be shocked by sudden – often expensive – surprises.
You need to know – in the eventuality of an emergency – who you are going to contact for emergency IT support. It is likely to be far more expensive than the preventative measures you have already implemented or the support you have in place, and the outcome of the emergency will likely mean you have to spend money on purchasing replacement hardware or software. If this is done in a rush – which it is likely to be to ensure you can continue trading – you may end up getting a tool that ‘does the job’ but is by no means the best option on the market for you or your company.
No flexibility -
Some businesses have made a sudden transition to an at least partially remote working team. One of the key ways implemented to ensure this transition was successful was by having the latest tools in place to facilitate the transition - the businesses that had already put the modern provisions in place found it much easier than the ones still using dated tools.
Work is going to get progressively more flexible; the more adaptable workplaces are looking to become the leaders on the market, when productivity can massively increase. Most businesses across the globe have taken the idea of remote working in their stride and have at least begun to introduce flexible working policies in order for it to become an even more integral part of work practice going forward. This allows team members to work from home, on premise, or on the go without having to sacrifice productivity - the practice of flexible working has, in fact, already been proven to boost productivity and employee wellbeing.
Confidence in your system, hardware, and devices is integral – you must be certain they are functional and - most importantly – secure when using them from a remote setting. Older technology doesn’t offer the functionality or provide security even close to that needed to work flexibly, effectively and safely. Your systems must be designed with remote working in mind. You must update your old technology to allow your team to reap the benefits and flexibility of remote working.
A loss of customers -
Old technology can lead you to lose customers in many ways. Let’s list some of them now:
· Security breaches are for more likely when using dated systems. If your data is compromised during this security breach it is very possible that your customers will lose faith in your ability to protect their data, and this will lead them to go to your competitor instead.
· Old technology will lag and run very slowly in comparison to modern alternatives. This may affect the quality of communication that you have with your customer base, meaning perhaps you can’t contact them in a timely manner, or that you can’t process orders as quickly as promised. This will also cause customers to look for a better experience and quality of service elsewhere.
· The relationship you have with your clients is integral, so slow tech can seriously affect the quality of service you are able to offer. If a customer hears ‘I’ll get back to you’ then you have probably lost their trust already. Slow operations and response times don’t reflect well on your business. With efficient systems you will be able to give them an instant answer to their query and project a good image of your business to them at all times.
The modern world is all about ease of use and the efficiency of process – if your competitors offer a quicker, more efficient service than you then there is no way you are going to be able to compete. Customer service only goes so far.
Security risks -
Cyber attacks are on the rise! The onset of Covid-19 and our reliance on tech can be to blame for that. No matter the size of your business, you are not safe - don’t think that because you aren’t turning over millions a year that you are somehow ‘immune’. If anything, you are more likely to be attacked. Some smaller businesses don’t have the resources to invest in advanced cyber security solutions and are therefore more likely to have gaps in their security strategies which can be infiltrated.
Technology is always evolving, but so are the methods that cyber criminals use to penetrate your systems. Hardware and software developers are constantly working to beat cyber criminals and keep up with new security demands – arguably a futile task in some cases, but, as fast as cyber criminals develop ways to cause carnage, methods to protect ourselves are advancing as well. The latest version of any technology is always the best equipped option to protect your business from security threats – every update or new model will come with the latest and greatest preventative security measures integrated into it.
Outdated systems get to a point where they are no longer supported by the company that created them. This makes them vulnerable – in fact, very vulnerable - because the lack of security updates will mean that new issues are not remedied, ‘plugging holes’ becomes impossible and it’s unlikely that you will ever be able to prevent breaches until it is too late.
Most organisations handle customer data - we have to in order to do our jobs properly – but having this sensitive data lays massive pressure on your shoulders to keep that data safe at all times. Many viruses are created with the sole intention of stealing information: if the worst happens the fines can be enormous, but arguably worse is your hard-earned reputation stooping to all-time lows.
When technology is up-to-date the complete opposite occurs - you can enjoy an increase in both productivity and morale. Your team must have the ability to be productive as much as possible – for the success of your organisation and for them to have the smoothest workday. Less than IT literate team members being forced to battle through an onslaught of IT issues is a recipe for disaster – your team having the right, up-to-date platform to work from makes things safer and more productive.
Now we know the issues with outdated tech, let’s explore how often you should replace your IT to ensure you’re always getting the most from it in the most cost-effective way.
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