Outdated IT infrastructure can lead to a number of problems in your business.
You can’t run a business today without IT.
But “IT” means different things to different businesses.
For a small business, IT may mean a laptop and network router from 2015. But to mid-size or Enterprise-level businesses, IT may mean big data analytics, software testing, and a whole gamut of SaaS applications and in-house hardware installation.
Regardless, each of these businesses will inevitably face one major question:
Should I upgrade or replace my current IT infrastructure with modern gear?
Tough question to answer.
Let’s hear what Jon Wrennall, CTO of Fujitsu in the UK and Ireland, has to say:
"IT is like a car – whichever way you use one (buy it, lease it, company car or use a taxi) it always costs money (in purchase, servicing, fuel, or by the minute/mile). It will never come for free, it needs looking after (by you or someone else).
At some point, it will break down or get vandalized (or hacked). The most effective and efficient ownership model for you will depend on what you need it for, the way you use it and what you actually want."
The bold passage is the key takeaway from the quote.
No matter how big or small the business, it needs IT. And no matter what kind of IT you currently use, it will need upgrading or replacing.
So instead of asking the question “Should I replace or upgrade IT?” you have to ask the question “When should I replace or upgrade my IT?”
We’ll help you answer that question by the end of this post.
To start, let’s see why using outdated IT infrastructure may not be the best idea for your business.
The Dangers of Using Outdated Information Technology in Your Business
IT infrastructure performs critical functions in your business. The older it gets, the worse it performs. Below are specific ways outdated IT infrastructure can harm your business.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the business sector had the largest amount of data breaches in 2018 while the healthcare industry had the highest rate of exposure per breach. In total, there were 1,244 breaches and over 446 million records exposed.
But those numbers don’t get to the heart of the issue, which is the cost of these breaches on your bottom line.
According to the Ponemon Institute, The global average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, up by 6.4% from 2017.
And for the first time, Ponemon institute analyzed “mega breaches” - data breaches that range from 1 million to 50 million records lost. In 2013, there were 9 mega breaches but in 2017, there were 16, almost double the amount.
Here are their findings from analyzing 11 companies who experienced data breaches quoted directly from the Ponemon Institute:
- The average cost of a data breach of 1 million compromised records is nearly $40 million dollars.
- At 50 million records, the estimated total cost of a breach is $350 million dollars.
- The vast majority of these breaches (10 out of 11) stemmed from malicious and criminal attacks (as opposed to system glitches or human error).
- The average time to detect and contain a mega-breach was 365 days – almost 100 days longer than a smaller scale breach (266 days).
- For mega breaches, the biggest expense category was costs associated with lost business, which was estimated at nearly $118 million for breaches of 50 million records – almost a third of the total cost of a breach this size.
Of course, lost data isn’t the only reason outdated tech costs money.
According to the State of Work Survey conducted by Samanage which collected responses from almost 3,000 U.S. working adults, workers spend 520 hours a year doing repetitive services and tasks (that could be automated). Tasks such as:
- Password reset requests
- New employee onboarding
- Contact review and approval
- Office supply requests
- And much more
To quantify this in dollars, your spending $13,202.80 a year, per employee, on unproductive tasks. There are over 140 million U.S. workers, which means collectively businesses are losing $1.8 trillion annually.
And employees recognize how inefficient they are.
The same survey revealed that 25.4% of employees think the technology and policies their company uses hurt worker productivity.
When employees feel unproductive, they’ll look for new ways to enhance their productivity, which in many cases means downloading and using other apps and software without authorization, opening you up to new risks your IT team is completely unaware of.
36.8% of respondents believe their company’s technology is outdated and 18.2% said they downloaded and used an application without their IT department’s knowledge. Essentially, if you don’t screen and adopt better technology, many employees will do it behind your back, creating all new security threats.
Final findings of this survey:
Respondents believe that automating repetitive tasks (20%), having access to mobile-friendly devices (12%), and using cloud-based apps (9%) would help increase productivity at work.
And worse than data breaches or decreased productivity...
According to a Microsoft survey which polled 1,405 consumers, “91% of consumers said they would stop doing business with a company because of its outdated technology.”
70% of respondents also said, “they would be extremely or quite concerned their information would be compromised if they provided personal information to a website that was outdated.” Out of this group, 70% said they would abandon a website if it asked for contact information and 80% would leave if it asked for credit card information.
And how do consumers judge whether you’re using outdated tech or not?
Well, 61% think “a small business is outdated if it’s using 5-10-year-old operating systems” and 60% think a business is outdated if they use a 5-10-year-old desktop computer.
The silver lining to this survey is:
62% of respondents are more likely to become repeat customers if businesses use modern technology.
Now, one of the keys to more customers is better employees, which you’ll be hard-pressed to find without improved IT infrastructure.
According to a study conducted by Dell and Intel, “44 percent of employees worldwide feel that their workspace isn’t smart enough, and more than half expect to be working in a smart office within the next five years.”
In fact, 69% of the younger workforce (millennials), expect to work in a smart office within the next 5 years.
And they’re not alone in their preference for high-tech work environments.
63% of millennials and 55% of older workers say that they prefer “augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) and Internet of Things (IoT) rather than low-tech perks like ping pong, free food, etc.” They want functional benefits over non-essential ones.
Here’s the kicker:
42% of millennials say they would quit a job with outdated technology and 82% said that substandard workplace technology would influence the role they take in the company.
What are The Benefits of Using Upgraded IT in Your Business?
The benefits of upgraded IT infrastructure should be obvious at this point, right?
- More money
- More customers
- More employees
- Higher productivity
- Better security
And the list goes on.
Whatever you’re losing with outdated tech (which is a lot, as the last section made abundantly clear), you’ll make up with updated technology.
The question is…
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Upgrade Your IT Technology?
Knowing when to upgrade your IT infrastructure is crucial for streamlining your business.
There are a few telltale signs that your IT infrastructure is reducing productivity and presenting higher security risks.
It’s probably time for an upgrade if you experience the following workplace issues:
Tasks Are Taking Too Long to Complete
Have you noticed your employees taking longer than usual to complete certain tasks?
If you can determine it’s not the employee, then it’s probably the software, hardware, or network their computer is using.
New Applications Aren’t Working with Outdated Software and Hardware
Many powerful PC applications (like Microsoft or Adobe) require a sizable amount of hard drive space, processing power, and RAM.
If your employees need to complete tasks like video editing, which requires large software and large amounts of space, you’re going to need high-speed hardware that can handle it.
You Notice Bugs and Errors in Software
Most software programs have bugs embedded within the code. This isn’t intentional, it’s part of the process of writing software.
If you’re not automatically updating your programs, you’ll probably run into these bugs that will require manual updating or patch downloads.
But you may also install software that can’t be patched or upgraded. In that case, you’ll have to replace it.
You Want to Add New Users onto the Network (But Need More Memory or Storage Capacity)
If you want to grow your network, you’ll need added storage space and memory. Additional users on a shared network could slow down server speeds. All the more reason to upgrade.
Customers Complain about Your Telephone Systems
Are customers complaining about your phones not ringing, calls not being answered, calls disconnecting randomly, or being kept on hold for too long?
These may be personnel issues, but they may also be telephone system issues. A surge in callers around the holidays can overwhelm an older telephone system, causing a crash.
Old phone lines and answering machines can develop problems as the hardware wears down. If you’re experiencing these issues and you know it’s not an employee problem, it’s probably time for an upgrade.
Basic Printer and Copier Functions Aren’t Working
A paper jam every now and then isn’t a big deal. But when it happens consistently, it can quickly decrease employee productivity.
But worse, it can lead to other issues like ink leaks.
And really old copiers will have trouble connecting to updated networks in your office, making it harder to send faxes and print remotely.
The Top Software and Hardware Updates to Make
You don’t necessarily have to replace all the software and hardware in your office, but there are certain items that should absolutely be updated regularly. Here are just a few:
The size and speed of your hard drive affect many aspects of your computing power.
For example, a solid state drive (SSD) will write data onto itself at a much faster rate than a hard disk drive (HDD).
Processors are crucial to high-performance computing.
If you need to run multiple programs simultaneously, or programs that use a lot of processing power, you need to upgrade your processor.
The fact is, random access memory (RAM) was one of the greatest innovations in computers and one of the keys to faster performance.
RAM works hand-in-hand with processors and allows you to run many programs at the same time without losing speed.