Every business relies on technology for critical functions. Even when it’s something as mundane as sending out digital receipts or emailing clients, technology is always present. When that technology fails, it can be devastating.
The best way to avoid technology problems is to stay on top of upgrades, but if you’re too aggressive with those upgrades, it gets expensive. What you really need is a way to identify technology in your business that is due for an upgrade before it becomes a major issue.
If you are like anyone else in the business world wondering how often a business needs to upgrade technology, then you’re in the right place. Obviously, there is no magic timeframe that will work for every business. Instead, you can learn the telltale signs that some or all of your technology is due for some attention.
Tasks Are Becoming Increasingly Frustrating to Complete
Have you ever been so annoyed with a printer that you just didn’t want to use it anymore? Is there a computer in the office that no one likes?
When a piece of technology is a source of consistent frustration, it’s a clear, unmistakable sign that you have a technology problem. Work with your nationwide IT support provider to find replacements for any and all pieces of technology that cause this kind of frustration.
When this frustration is present, it inevitably creates workflow and productivity issues that often cost more than the upgrades that solve the problem.
The Business Is Growing Quickly
Your technology needs to keep up with your business. It’s a pretty simple formula.
When your business is growing modestly, you can plan for something known as “futureproofing” where your technology assets can handle a fair amount of growth with little consistent investment. You get servers that can handle a lot more than your current capacity. Things like that.
But, when business is growing rapidly, even moderate futureproofing will fall behind. Fast growth necessitates consistent technology for business investments. Otherwise, your technology will create issues that hamper your sustained growth.
You’re Taking on New Projects
Sometimes, the path forward for a business does not follow a straight line. You add brand new products or services, and they open up entirely new markets for your business. It’s a great way to grow.
It’s also a great way to overwhelm your existing technology resources. If your business is marching into brand new tasks, then you should evaluate the technology you have available to take on the new work. In some cases, you might be fine, but in plenty of circumstances, you will need technology investments to keep up with the new direction.
You’ve Had a Security Problem
Hopefully, this is the result of a security audit. Your IT personnel found a vulnerability, and they’re proposing a solution to fix it. In that case, make the investment and shore up your cyber security.
In a worse case, you found out about the security problem because you were attacked. Whether it was hacking, stealing data, malicious software, or anything else, security problems cannot be taken likely.
When you know about a vulnerability in your technology, fix it aggressively. Otherwise, you’re rolling very expensive dice. Data breaches can bankrupt companies. Ransomware can take your entire business down for considerable periods of time.
There are countless other kinds of attacks that can completely break your business.
You’ve Had Downtime
Of everything on the list, this is easily the most important. If you have problems with technology that completely halt your business, then you’re in the worst case that exists. Technology is there to improve business functions. When it’s a hindrance, it has to go.
In many cases, targeted technology upgrades can overcome these kinds of things. If your point-of-sale system is crashing, invest in something more reliable. If you have a server that goes offline, beef it up with targeted upgrades. Regardless of the piece of technology involved, no business can tolerate downtime caused by insufficient technology.
The Ideal Time to Upgrade Each Type of Technology in Your Office
- Computers: 3-5 years
After 3 years the processors of computers start to become out of date with current applications. You can squeeze 5-7 years out of computers, but they will be increasingly slow and frustrating to complete tasks.
- Printers: 5-7 years
- Routers: 3-5 years
Keeping an eye on your router’s lifecycle is important. Business class routers have end-of-life dates and end-of-support dates. Your router is basically a computer that passes and tests all traffic in or out of your facility, so it is used heavily. When this device breaks your systems are all unusable, it is important to not wait until there is an issue and keep this device up to date and licensed.
- Data Switches: 5-7 years
These devices can last a long time but replacing them for upgraded models keeps your location running as efficiently as possible. Like a router, this device is critical and could take down your location when it stops working, so refreshing it is recommended before you run into problems.
- Video Surveillance Cameras: 5-7 years
Over the years your security cameras can slowly lose the ability to have a sharp image. Keeping updated with the newest technology every 5-7 years helps keep your images as sharp as possible.
- Video Surveillance Server: 3-5 years
These devices are constantly writing data to a hard drive. Since live view on cameras work even when the hard drives fail, most users are unaware their drive is bad until they try to retrieve critical footage and find there is no recording. The recommendation is to use a company like Eagle Eye Networks that can detect drive issues before they happen and parter with a Tie National that can engage a warranty process before the device fails, or consistently check recordings yourself and replace your unit every 3-5 years.
- Wi-Fi Access Points: 3-5 years
As technology improves the connection to your Wi-Fi access point needs to also improve. We usually think of Wi-Fi as the same old Wi-Fi that we always had. In reality the protocols have changed many times over the years. New protocols allow faster speeds, more security, and require different Access Point antennas to connect devices. Staying upgraded, especially if you allow your clients and/or critical systems on your Wi-Fi, is vital to the customer and employee experience.
- Tablets: 3-5 years
Tablets become outdated faster than computers these days. The recommendation is a replacement every 3 years. If you are running non-critical systems, you may be able to stretch them out to about years, but it is not recommended to go over 5 years.
- Computers: 3-5 years
Get a Business Technology Needs Assessment
The very best way to know when it’s time to upgrade your technology is to get an expert to take a look at everything. With a professional needs assessment, Tie National can review all of your technology and how it impacts your business. We can identify potential problems before they become expensive, and we can make recommendations that keep you on a healthy upgrade schedule.
Whether you need small business IT support or corporate IT solutions, contact us today! We’ll be happy to discuss your business needs, budget, time scales, and everything else to ensure that your technology works for you rather than against you.
Michael Durante spent his teenage years into his early 20s climbing the ladder in a branch of a successful banking firm, starting as a teller and ending as a Sr. Branch Manager within 6 years. In 2003, he left the banking world to join his father and create TIE National, a telecom company 60 years in the making. Together, they grew the company from a two-man operation solely working on telephones to a multi-million dollar international business with employees in over a dozen states, covering everything from phone systems to cloud products and computer systems. You can find Michael on LinkedIn.