The Costs of Keeping and Using Old Technology

There are a few, commonly cited rationales for postponing upgrades in hardware and software technology. Cost avoidance, the resulting disruptive employee training, and temporary downtimes in work processes are three that we hear most often.

But there are many other offsetting, and better, reasons to keep your technology up to date – if not on the cutting edge. Failing to do so can come at a high cost and those costs are more wide spread than you might think.

Damage to the company’s reputation and brand. According to a study of consumer behavior by Microsoft“Nearly 25% of consumers think a small business is not professional and lacks credibility when they see it uses a free, cloud-based email service.” And let’s consider that from the positive side: “62% say they are more likely to become a repeat customer of a business that uses modern technology.”

That damage to your brand will be followed by…

Loss of sales and customers. According to that same Microsoft study, “More than 80% of customers will leave a business’ website and abandon an online purchase if the site is outdated.” Similarly, an analysis by KISSMetrics found that 40% of users will give up waiting for a website to load after three seconds. Yes, the customer’s technology experience matters. Also, if you’re thinking about scrimping on IT security, consider Microsoft’s finding that “40% of consumers will not return to a business they heard has been hacked.”

And speaking of cyber-security, what about the costs related to…

Higher security risks. Hackers and cyber-criminals are continually upping their game as they try to grab your data, or worse. Outdated software and data security practices can make your organization the low hanging fruit (aka the weakest link) and thus the ideal, most likely target for cyber-attacks, malware and viruses. Plus, if you’re in a highly-regulated industry (e.g., healthcare or financial services) you’re legally bound to operate under higher standards of security that protect personal data.

But there are also internal costs related to making do with old IT technology…

The cost of system downtime. The failure rates for software and hardware increase with age. New designs are better designs. For example, there’s a good reason hardware makers have shifted to solid state drive technology given the potential catastrophic fallout from a drive failure.

Of course, these types of tech failures lead to…

Declining employee productivity. Software companies don’t release new versions just to get your money or complicate your day. Organization-wide IT systems are becoming more complex and integrated and that means an organization’s software and systems must work well and work together. All of this requires taking advantage of new applications and software iterations.

Sure, there may be modest learning curves when employees are faced with something new, but that’s short-lived as they quickly shift into a higher gear, putting new, highly functional, and more efficient processes into play.

And employees don’t like the downtime any more than you do…

Employee dissatisfaction. Increasingly, employees expect to work with, and have come to rely on, the latest – or at least later-model – technology. If they’re bogged down with glitch-prone applications, antiquated IT processes, and non-integrated systems, the best people on a team (whether they’re Millennials or Baby Boomers) will look for greener pastures.

 

In closing, it’s easy to put off doing what you know should be done. And it’s even easier to think in the short rather than long term. But there are few areas in the business world like IT systems, where the phrase “penny-wise and pound-foolish” is more appropriate.