New year, new tech! It may be time to think about upgrading if your company is still dependent on older and outdated technology, as the effort required to keep it going, as it ages, comes with several hidden costs. Although keeping older hardware and software running may seem financially savvy, you may be setting yourself up for BIG costs down the road.
The reasoning why many small businesses shy away from investing in new equipment and software is quite understandable - they do the calculations and see a number that continues to grow, seemingly exponentially. Although the initial costs can be high (or higher than you would like) for new technologies, hardware or software, you have to weigh what you can pay for relative to the cost of keeping outdated technology going.
Let's begin by looking at some of the "hidden" costs of using older or obsolete technology.
Lost Productivity - the older technology gets, the less efficiently it operates. This applies to both hardware and software, but for different reasons. Even if it is well-maintained, hardware has a tendency to lag. Tools only wear out with use and it's not possible to stop this. But when you put outdated software into the mix, the productivity problems that come with aging hardware just get worse. You will begin to lose support from developers over time, and this comes with all kinds of issues. Three examples are given here.
Loss Of Integration - older apps lose secure integration with your other business apps. For example, your CRM software worked with your billing software perfectly at one point, but then they stopped upgrading past versions as developers concentrate on newer versions of their software. More hiccups and mistakes are the end product, and you risk data loss, too.
Loss Of Compatibility - older applications often don't integrate well with newer applications. What do you do if you are already using the old program and the up-to-date version is used by your suppliers or customers? That can lead to a lot of aggravation for everyone involved, and you can end up losing you clients. One Microsoft survey found that an overwhelming majority of customers, 91 percent, would walk away from a company if older technology were used by that company.
Loss Of Time And Money - aging technology makes it harder for your team to do their jobs, due to loss of integration and compatibility. A new Currys PC World (UK) study found that, because of ageing technology, workers lose an average of 46 minutes every day. That adds up to about 24 days a year and an average loss of about $3,500 per worker, although that amount can vary wildly from industry to industry. You can be assured that the time and money costs have a ripple impact across the entire organization.
While productivity takes a hit, there’s another major issue that comes up when your business relies on aging technology: security.
This means you'll receive less security updates as the tech ages and developers end support. There will be zero security updates eventually, leaving you completely unprotected. And while developers may stop promoting older software, hackers and cyber criminals will continue to try to break into them. They know that small companies often update their systems at a slower pace, giving an advantage to criminals.
If a hacker is able to break into your network because you're using obsolete and unsupported software, your company could be exposed to the costs associated with this form of data breach, and it can be devastating. If you had few IT protection in place (or none at all) and were not backing up your records, the problem is made worse. It's like turning your company over to criminals! It is not possible to overstate the importance of IT protection, and if you are operating on older computers with obsolete software, the risks are greater.
So, What Can Be Done to Prevent This? As we said before, many small businesses believe that it is cost-prohibitive to keep their technology up to date. They don't want to deal with the upfront expense of investing in new technologies and hardware. Although it can be expensive, there are ways to mitigate those costs, depending on your needs.
Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are one way. These allow small businesses to remain current without having to drop a big chunk of change (or whatever the digital currency equivalent is). Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are committed to supporting small businesses with all their IT needs, such as keeping their technology updated and their network protected from outside intruders, so HaaS and SaaS are a natural fit.
When you take into account the lack of productivity (and the annoyance that comes with it) along with the costs of data breaches, malware infections or cyber attacks, throwing the old tech to the curb and adopting the new can easily be worth it!