New year, new technology! If your business is still relying on older and aging technology, it's time to think about updating that technology. As it ages, the effort to keep it running comes with many hidden costs. While it may seem financially savvy to keep older hardware and software running, you may be setting yourself up for major costs down the road.
It's understandable why many small businesses shy away from investing in new equipment and software. They do the math and see a number that keeps rising. While the upfront costs of new technology — hardware or software — can be high (or higher than you would like), you have to consider what you would be paying for versus the cost of keeping aging technology running.
Let's start by looking at some of the "hidden" costs that come with using older or outdated technology. First, consider the cost of productivity.
The older technology gets, the less efficiently it runs. This applies to hardware and software. Hardware has a tendency to lag, even if it's well-maintained. Devices simply wear out with use. This cannot be avoided. But the productivity issues that come with aging hardware only get worse when you bring aging software into the mix. Over time, you will start to lose support from developers, and this comes with all sorts of problems. Here are three examples.
Loss Of Integration Older apps lose stable integration with companion apps. At one point, your CRM software may have worked perfectly with your billing software. As developers focus on newer versions of their apps, they stop updating past versions. The end result is more hiccups or errors. You risk losing data.
Loss Of Compatibility Older apps aren't always compatible with newer apps. What should you do when still using an old software and your vendors or customers use the up-to-date version? It can result in a lot of aggravation on everyone's part, and you can end up losing customers. One Microsoft survey showed a vast majority of consumers - 91% - would walk away from a business if that business were using older technology.
Loss Of Time And Money Factoring in slow equipment and a loss of integration and compatibility, aging tech makes it harder for your team to do their jobs. A recent study by Currys PC World found that employees lose an average of 46 minutes every day due to aging technology. That adds up to about 24 days per year and an average loss of about $3,500 per employee - though that number can vary wildly from industry to industry. You can be sure the cost in time and money has a ripple effect throughout the entire business.
While productivity takes a hit, there's another major issue that comes up when your business relies on aging technology: security.
As your tech ages, and as developers end support, this means you'll see fewer security patches. Eventually, there will be zero security patches, leaving you vulnerable. Developers may stop supporting older products, but hackers and cybercriminals will keep on trying to break into those products. They know small businesses tend to update their systems at a slower pace, and this gives criminals an advantage.
If you get caught using outdated software and a hacker is able to break into your network, the costs associated with this kind of a data breach can put a business under. It's devastating. The problem is made worse if you had limited IT security in place (or none at all) and weren't backing up your data. It's like handing your business over to the criminals! The importance of IT security cannot be overstated, and if you are working on older computers with outdated software, risks are greater.
So, What Can You Do? As we said before, many small businesses assume that keeping their technology up-to-date is cost prohibitive. They don't want to deal with the upfront cost that comes with investing in new hardware and software. While it can be costly, depending on your needs, there are ways to mitigate those costs.
One great example is through a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company or program. These allow small businesses to stay current without having to drop a tidy sum in order to make it all happen. These services are often offered through managed service providers (MSPs) that are dedicated to helping small businesses with all of their IT needs, including keeping their technology updated and their network secure from outside intruders.
When you factor in the loss of productivity (and the frustration that comes with that) along with the costs that come with data breaches, malware infections or cyber-attacks, it can easily be worth it to kick your old tech to the curb and embrace the new!