How often should you update your business technology?
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How Often Should Your Business Update Its Technology?

When did you last invest in new technology? When it comes to upgrading, there tends to be two camps of people: those always on the lookout for the newest tech to innovate with, and those who take the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as gospel.

However, at some point in the future, your IT will inevitably stop being fit for purpose. Systems become outdated. Processes become inefficient. Hardware fails. As time goes on, you might simply find yourself outgrowing your ageing software and hardware.

But investing in new tech can be very expensive, seen as an extravagance of low priority. If you can make do as you are now, parting with your hard-earned cash may be the last thing on your mind. So what are the signs that you need to upgrade your technology?

Five signs it’s time to upgrade your technology

Your IT should be something that works for you, not against you. As soon as your tech becomes something that you have to work around, it’s time to start questioning if it’s fit for purpose. Let’s look at a few of the warning signs it might be time to do away with the old.

1. Performance is going down

It’s common that hardware slows down as it ages. As more software is added or upgraded, performance decreases. This trend is especially noticeable in the 24% of companies that hold onto their hardware for seven or more years – long after warranty periods expire.

What to watch out for: Laptops, computers or phones slowing down. Applications crashing, internet browsers becoming sluggish or web page loading times going up.

2. Operating costs are going up

This is somewhat of a paradox, but one of the best ways to reduce your ongoing IT operating costs is to reduce your usage of outdated technology which likely needs more resources to maintain.

What to watch out for: An increasingly regular need for IT support to come to the rescue. Failing tech not only reduces your employees’ productivity, but costs you in downtime.

3. Employee frustrations are high

IT problems are a pain to deal with. If something isn’t actively helping your employees do their job, it’s holding them back and reducing their productivity. A disconnect between the kind of technology your employees choose to use and what they must use at work is a sign your IT is behind the times.

What to watch out for: Employees being vocal about their tech frustrations is the obvious one. Even if they aren’t, there are subtle clues you can watch out for. Look out for employees working around company processes or finding shortcuts to get their work done.

Working with outdated tech decreases employee productivity. Image source: Pixabay.com

4. Your IT struggles to adapt to changing demands

Your technology drives the way your employees work. If your technology is preventing you from being agile in responding to new opportunities, demands or requests as a company, it could be slowing your growth.

What to watch out for: When situations outside of your control change (needing your workforce to work remotely in the midst of a pandemic, for example) you don’t have the infrastructure in place to facilitate the change.

5. High exposure to security threats

Possibly the most pressing reason to invest in new IT technology for your business is to keep on top of your cybersecurity. There are bigger security risks that come with running older systems. Ageing technology (anything older than seven years) is more vulnerable to attack when hardware, firmware or operating systems stop being supported.

What to watch out for: Your hardware stops being able to support software upgrades. Older computers, for example, are unlikely to support newer operating systems and leave you open to the latest security threats. This is particularly important to avoid if you handle sensitive customer data. A lack of security updates means your IT systems are easy prey for cybercriminals trying to steal customer information.

Outdated technology opens the door to increased security risks. Image source: Pixabay.com

Where to start when deciding to upgrade your technology

If you’re still not sure whether you need to upgrade, ask the following questions:

  • Do your staff feel handicapped by the IT they are using?
  • Are your business-critical systems still supported by their manufacturers?
  • Are you able to apply the latest security patches to your software?
  • Are you using industry-standard technology?
  • What technology are your competitors and market-leaders using?

If the answers to these questions indicate that your technology is a hindrance rather than a help, it’s a false economy to keep investing money in maintaining your existing systems.

So when is the right time to invest in new tech?

Yesterday, probably. However, investing in new technology is not a process to be rushed. Look at the latest trends across your industry and carefully assess the needs of both your business and your customers. What are your employees and customers asking for?

IT upgrades can bring massive benefits to your business, but they don’t come cheap. Plan carefully so you can spend your money in the right places and get the maximum return off your hard-earned cash.