Your computer network is not a blender. A good blender, a Vitamix for instance, will last for 10 to 20 years depending on how often you use it. Your personal computer, MacBook, iPad, networking gear, servers, printers, cables or smart phone have a much shorter lifespan – 3 to 5 years tops. Any longer than 5 years and you are putting your small business at risk for destruction.
Destruction is a scary word and may seem a bit extreme, however, think about it. In today’s marketplace, your business requires computers, the Internet and a phone service to operate longer than a day. Don’t treat these systems like a blender. Your hardware and software should be regularly maintained and treated like a well-oiled machine. It must be replaced before it leaves you stranded on the side of a major highway at rush hour in Los Angeles.
Traditionally, small businesses operate conservatively stretching every penny and admittedly, this is how they stay in business. But, there is a point on the economy of scale of diminishing returns when old technology begins to cost more than you realize. Labor productivity suffers as employees adjust to poorly performing technology, lack of operational streamlining and limited access to data.
Security holes expose your business and intellectual property to mischievous hackers resulting in complete shut down for days costing you thousands in service fees. A failed server without redundant backups can take your business down for a few hours or a few days. I often hear technicians say that if a server is more than 5 years old, don’t dare touch or move the thing – the hard drive may never respond, again.
Many of these technology cost articles quote studies of how much small and medium size businesses spend per year on technology. It doesn’t matter what others spend with their limited understanding of the importance of digital technology and fast internet. Your most expensive cost in a business is labor. Hire the best people you can afford and give them the best technology you can afford and they will work around the clock, from anywhere and everywhere as fast as the largest corporations.
In today’s marketplace, technology provides the capabilities of a large corporation to small businesses such as the ability to set up an office from anywhere with wifi, a hotspot, or hardwired internet access. Have mobile phone and laptop, will work.
Here is a list of items you should consider when evaluating and improving your technology:
- Abandon or reduce on-premises technology such as Servers
- Use cloud line-of-business (LOB) applications and backup for easy access to data
- Archive old data, while following any compliance rules
- Mobilize your workforce
- Update your phone system, leveraging VoIP (consider a softphone too)
- Maximize your security tools and train employees to avoid ransomware and phishing scams
- Improve your internet speed with dedicated fiber if available in your area
- Replace computers, network equipment and servers every 3-4 years
So, the next time your CIO or IT consultant tells you it’s time for new computers, servers, switches or faster internet, remember that your technology is not a blender and the longer you treat it like one, the more money you lose.