As another year draws to a close, we typically begin having thoughts like “out with the old and in with the new.” We create new budgets set new goals as we look forward to another successful year of business.
How much thought are you giving to the technology tools that you use in your business? Do you proactively replace your outdated technology, or do you wait to replace it until you absolutely have to?
There are five risks associated with the use of outdated technology in your business:
1. System crashes and resulting downtime cost you time.
According to Microsoft, PCs that are more than 4 years old lead to the loss of 42 hours of productivity per year because of repairs, maintenance and security fixes. This means that small businesses could be losing up to one work week each year for each employee who is reliant on outdated technology.
2. System crashes and resulting downtime cost you money.
Microsoft also reports that it costs nearly double to fix a system that’s older than 4 years of age. A Techaisle global survey of small businesses found that the cost to repair an older PC equals or even exceeds the cost of buying a new one. You must also account for lost productivity costs. The United States Department of Labor estimates the average hourly rate of a PC worker to be $20 per hour. For companies who are losing the above-cited average of 42 hours per year of productivity due to system downtime, this is an annual productivity loss of $840 per employee.
3. Employee productivity declines.
Employee productivity declines when your staff members are working to resolve IT issues instead of remaining focused on the business tasks you employ them to do. In addition, outdated technology is inherently slower and less powerful pieces of equipment. Outdated PCs may lack sufficient processing speed and memory required to optimally run today’s robust business applications, and this slows your users down. These devices consume more power and (where mobile devices are concerned) have a much shorter battery life. The time spent by your employees each day waiting on systems to reboot or for applications to process data may seem inconsequential at first glance, but this downtime adds up to significant losses over the course of a week, month and quarter.
4. Outdated software leaves you vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Many people mistakenly assume that operating system and software updates are issued by software developers as a way to deploy new features and functionality, but this is not the only reason for those updates. Software and operating system patches are regularly distributed by software manufacturers to shore up security vulnerabilities that are discovered post-release. These updates also provide protection to the user from new malicious software and viruses that are created by hackers. Once software reaches a certain age, manufacturers will stop issuing these updates. This is when your risk associated with its continued use is the greatest. Last year between 70% and 80% of the top 10 malicious software detected could have been avoided if the infected user’s outdated technology had been updated correctly.
5. Legal and regulatory compliance risk.
If you are a business subject to certain regulatory compliances, you may be subject to fines for continuing to rely on the use of outdated technology in your business. The HIPAA Security Rule specifically requires health care entities, for example, to protect their patient information with system patches and updates. If you are a healthcare provider still using Windows XP, you are not in compliance. Support for Windows XP ended in April of 2014. Regardless of your industry, you must be aware of the regulations governing that industry and ensure your systems comply with any security standards mandated by your governing entity.
Loss of time and money are the two primary risks associated with the continued use of outdated technology, yet time and money are also the reasons cited by many small and mid-sized businesses for failing to make timely hardware and software upgrades. Ironic, isn’t it?
So how often should you upgrade the computers and servers you use in your office?
Our advice is every 3 years for PCs and every 5 years for servers. Fewer computer outages keep workers working, increases productivity, enhances network security, and keeps business moving. Instead of asking yourself, “what will it cost my business to upgrade my outdated technology?” ask yourself, “What is it costing my business if I don’t?”