Every business is unique, and you understand the needs of your business better than anyone. Are you listening to what your business is trying to tell you about the state of its technology, though?
Businesses implement swaths of technology solutions and use them for years without regard for their status. Occasional breakages and stoppages are normal, even with new technology. There comes a certain point where business technology needs to be upgraded, however. How can you tell when the time to upgrade is right?
In this article, we’ll walk through some of the signals that may be overdue for a technology update. This technology update could consist of either new software, new hardware, or both. Not all businesses need to completely replace their entire technology scheme.
Go with your gut instinct when reading this article, and keep your pain points in mind. Remember, the point of technology is to ease your business’ pain points rather than make them worse.
Collaborators Struggle to Exchange Data With You
Low interoperability is a massive drag on your business’ efficiency. If you are experiencing difficulty communicating with vendors or transferring data to outside entities, you may be overdue for an upgrade.
Older technology in your business may work just fine for your internal operations. Making your internal operations intersect with another company’s operations is where using old technology will hamper your efforts severely. Older technology is less likely to produce files in formats that your collaborators can natively use.
Likewise, your collaborators and other business partners may deliver data that you cannot access with your technology. Inability to extract data from a colleague due to system mismatch is a huge red flag that points to your business needing new technology.
Newer systems recognize the interconnected nature of today’s business environment. In short, newer pieces of software play nicely with other software that they aren’t natively attached to. Upgrading will allow your business to reap the benefits of increased connectivity between data silos.
In fact, upgrading will let you remove or restructure your data silos however you like. Often, data silos between collaborators are merely the result of insufficient collaborative software.
Though it isn’t the same as direct struggles with business to business communications, on-site meetings with business partners can tell you a lot. If you visit the business place of one of your collaborators, pay attention to the hardware and software that they use.
If you see a piece of hardware or software you don’t recognize, asking about it is a surefire way to see whether your business is behind the curve. Likewise, if your collaborators raise eyebrows while touring your business, you have another signal that it is time to upgrade.
New hardware and new software make the best impressions with clients and collaborators, so don’t discount the mere appearance of newness when you are weighing your decisions to upgrade.
Your Software Is Obsolete or Deprecated
It’s possible to predict when a given piece of technology will become obsolete. Listening to those predictions is another matter. If an old prediction of obsolescence has had its time come and pass, your business has received a silent signal that it’s time for an update.
Typically, businesses try not to fix things that aren’t broken. This can lead to the use of software systems for many years. If you don’t get an external signal that your software is obsolete by difficulty collaborating with other businesses, you may get an internal signal. Try updating all of your pieces of software.
Not only is it important to update your software when those updates are available, you must also keep track of when the last available update was. Software companies will often report on their website (or elsewhere) the expected service life of that respective software. They are typically open about what software is still getting their focus. Even if it still serves its purpose for your business, if it’s been abandoned by the software company, further use of such software could lead to issues down the road (such a software deprecation).
Deprecation refers to pieces or functions of technology that are obsolete and also potentially harmful when used. Many software companies have addressed these deprecation issues by adopting the SaaS (Software as a Service) structure. Rather than buying the software outright, the SaaS is delivery model allows users to pay on a subscription basis. This way, users will always have access to the newest software/updates, especially since the software is typically centrally hosted (online).
Your Hardware Is Breaking
Jammed or screeching hard drives are a strong sign that your hardware has met its limit and requires an upgrade. If your hardware breaks at a critical moment, you’ll have no choice but to lose money while you perform your tech upgrade. By approaching upgrades systematically, unforeseen setbacks can be minimized.
Hardware can typically last far longer than its breaking point, though. If your company is running on hardware that is older than three or four years, it’s time for an update. Depending on the kind of business that you have, you may want to emphasize different pieces of hardware to upgrade.
Hard disc drives last the longest and have the largest capacity, and tend to give you audio cues when they’re about to break. Solid state drives and flash memory are the opposite. If you plan on using your hardware for the long haul, be aware of what it will be like as it is failing.
As far as visualization goes, modern displays are large, thin, and clear. If there is any trace of a CRT monitor (those heavy, square displays) in your business, it is a strong signal that you are in dire need of an upgrade. Any scratched displays should get an upgrade, too. Cosmetic damages are demotivating to witness.
Input surfaces like mice, keyboards, and microphones are also important to consider for an upgrade. The primary concern with these pieces of hardware will be their ergonomics. Having input devices with the latest ergonomic layouts is important because it puts less stress on your employees as they operate the hardware and reduces the days lost to repetitive motion injury.
Employees Complain About the Legacy System And Offer Alternatives
Employees complaining, or even leaving, due to legacy systems is a clear sign that an upgrade is overdue. Employees appreciate and are incentivized by newer technology. They may lose motivation when the technology they’re required to use is becoming less effective, especially if the employee is aware of a newer, more effective technology. Replacing emails for communication and excel for planning with modern software like Azendoo can help to satisfy employees on top of boosting productivity and collaboration.
Legacy systems are everywhere in business. Though, hiring employees to operate legacy systems tends to be more expensive long term than just upgrading. Legacy systems are costlier to maintain, more prone to breakage and are less efficient than alternatives. Legacy systems are well known for requiring an expert’s touch, something difficult and costly to train for.
By upgrading from legacy systems, you’ll also get the benefit of being able to train new employees faster. This is because newer systems tend to have tutorial modules for critical features.
The business software and hardware of today needs to connect with every other aspect of your business. These facts mean that a core piece of software must:
- Be remotely accessible
- Run on the latest major operating systems
- Be secure from unwanted intrusion
- Deliver data in current common formats
- Receive regular updates from its manufacturer
- Not be anywhere near its planned service lifetime according to the manufacturer
If your core software systems don’t meet the above requirements, it is time for an upgrade.
Working Remote: The Millennial Trend
Working remotely is becoming an increasingly popular option for employees, especially millennials. If this is feasible in your industry, it’s a great perk for employees (even if it’s just one day each week). Using software like Azendoo is key for remote-only employees as it provides a seamless team communication service.
SaaS services are a great fit for employees working remote as the tools required are immediately accessible. Your remote workforce can save their data into cloud storage, that way their work is available from any device they use. This is especially helpful as cloud services allow for mobile access, thus making resources available in an instant.
By using legacy hardware that saves work locally, there is significantly more room for error. If something were to happen to that computer’s hard drive, the work would be lost. Additionally, the employer has no control over where that data is saved, potentially creating security risks. By storing all resources and data in a centralized cloud location, employers can maintain much stronger security and organization over their remote workforce.
Making the Jump Forward
Do not be afraid if your business has sent you many signals that it is time for a technology upgrade. Databases can migrate, and hardware can get an upgrade. The important thing is to start your technology upgrade as quickly as you can plan it. The longer your business languishes with old technology, the more it is at risk of malfunctioning and causing further economic losses.
There are groups which your company can hire to help with technology upgrades if you are uncertain how to go about planning for an upgrade yourself. The price of the upgrades may be hard to swallow at first, but remember that technology is at the core of your business.
If your business’ technology is not at the same level as your competitors, you will be left far behind at the soonest possible opportunity. So, do your business a favor, and listen to the signals which tell you that it’s time to upgrade your technology.
About the writer:
Dakota Findley is a writer at www.surveyssay.com. His particular passions are in cost efficiency, marketing and maximizing productivity.