How Often Should a Business Upgrade its Technology? [And Other Questions Answered About Improving Your Systems]

Written by Emily Jones on October 27, 2021

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If your business is thinking of upgrading your technology, there are several different factors you’ll need to consider in your decision making.

Where should you make improvements? How often? Does the business upgrade its technology every time there’s a new advancement? Or should you keep your equipment until it gives you problems?

If your business is looking to make technology upgrades, here is a helpful framework outline to follow that considers three main areas and their specific considerations:

  • How often a business should upgrade its technology;
  • What factors you should be considering; and
  • Which areas may offer the highest return and best impact for your investment.

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How Often Should a Business Upgrade Its Technology?

There’s a balance to technology upgrade timing. Upgrade too early and you may be engaging in an expensive project to sunset a system that’s still useful. Upgrade too late and your business may be slowed because of outdated infrastructure or equipment.

So, how often does a business need to upgrade its technology? While there are no hard and fast rules, there are signals for the optimal times to upgrade your business technology.

1. Downtime

Most systems will encounter some downtime. But when those outages or when lack of system availability becomes frequent, it can impact your productivity and your ability to deliver for your customers. If you’re seeing more and more outages due to equipment issues, even short ones, it’s time to upgrade your business’s technology.

2. Business growth

If your business is growing, it’s likely that your technology needs are as well. If your infrastructure, equipment and connectivity were planned for a much smaller business, you’re likely lacking key functionality and agility that you’ll need as the business expands.

A growing business has more data and more people accessing networks and resources. As part of your growth, you should begin planning what upgrades to your business’s technology are needed and do so in a scalable way that will accommodate further growth (at least for a while).

3. Changing company direction

If your business changes how it approaches the products it sells or services it offers, or if you’re planning launches of new products or services, it may be time to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the equipment and infrastructure that supports those areas of the business.

For example, COVID-19 may have forced a business to shift from brick-and-mortar operations to e-commerce, and the business may have found that the change has been beneficial for the company. This change in company direction would be an important factor to consider in how often the business should upgrade its technology.

Continued support and growth of your new channels will require investment in more robust infrastructure and connectivity to ensure availability and uptime are prioritized for online shopping and busy seasons.

4. Compatibility

As you grow and add new technology to your business, you’ll likely encounter existing technologies that are no longer compatible with your new systems. If your legacy technology can no longer communicate with the new ones, you’ll end up adding manual processes to work around the shortcomings.

This is counterproductive and the opposite of what technology should be doing for your business, so if this sounds familiar, it may be time to upgrade.

5. Security concerns

Cybersecurity is top of mind for most companies today—and with good reason. Cyber criminals are getting smarter and using more sophisticated tools. When patches and updates are no longer available for your technology, it becomes a gaping hole in your defenses. To keep your data—and your customers—safe, outdated technology should be phased out and replaced.

6. Productivity

Technology and productivity go hand-in-hand. But when connections become slow or experience frequent interruptions, or when workarounds are creating more manual work, your productivity is impacted.

When you notice signs of productivity slowdowns, it’s time to investigate replacing the technology causing the issues.

Evaluating the Signals for Upgrading a Business’s Technology

Evaluating these signals will help you to determine how often your particular business should upgrade its technology. If these signals sound familiar, you’re probably pretty close to a need for an upgrade.

 

What Factors Should be Considered for Business Technology Upgrades?

After determining how often your business should upgrade its technology, you’ll want to determine what factors you should consider in your technology upgrades.

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Evaluating IT infrastructure requires looking closely at the performance of your company’s current system and measuring that against the goals of your business. It’s important to define the business’s objectives, requirements and nice-to-haves and then determine the available offerings against that criteria.

Essentially, it’s important to ask yourself what’s important to your business. When making decisions about your company’s technical environment, there are a few overarching considerations concerning your specific operations and needs that can help guide you.

1. Access

Businesses everywhere are re-evaluating remote access for their teams. Companies that had held the position that their teams couldn’t effectively do their work remotely were driven to re-evaluate their thinking.

While many companies don’t plan to permanently leverage remote work, solutions that support secure remote access have proven their value nonetheless.

What are your business’s goals and needs when it comes to access?

2. Cost

As companies look to modify their technology, making smart choices regarding costs are always of utmost importance. Remember that making cost-cutting decisions when it comes to technology can ultimately be more expensive in remediation expenses in the long run.

3. Speed and Flexibility

Modern companies must be prepared to turn on a dime to meet customer expectations and competitor challenges.

Technology improvements that facilitate that agility are useful both during a pandemic and in a fast-paced competitive environment.

How does speed and flexibility play into your business’s operational needs?

 

Areas to Consider When Upgrading Your Business’s Technology and Infrastructure

Once you’ve identified the timing of how often your business should upgrade its technology, and then pinpointed your access, cost, speed and flexibility requirements, you can make valuable enhancements in your company’s technology. Here are three key areas to consider when evaluating what enhancements to make.

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1. System Infrastructure and Connectivity

Increased network capacity or redundant connectivity may be worth investigating for businesses with mission-critical access needs and little tolerance for downtime.

Speed and access can be hindered by aging system infrastructure. Current servers may not be able to scale to meet the increased demand from a broader user base. The wrong size equipment in your system infrastructure can also degrade any improvements you’ve made in bandwidth, meaning your company won’t be able to reap the benefits from the larger capacity.

It’s important to look at the entire infrastructure and make sure it matches the goals you are trying to achieve.

2. Equipment

When looking to upgrade computer equipment and communication devices, companies must ask a few important questions to evaluate their own priorities:

  • What do employees need to be productive?
  • Is remote access needed on a consistent or an as-needed basis?
  • How many people need new or upgraded equipment?

For instance, business analysts who have been running computationally-intensive statistical models on desktop computers would likely need equally powerful laptops capable of meeting the demands of their work, while an administrative team member hardly needs the same kind of power from a workstation.

Yet, the reverse may be true when it comes to communication. The business analyst may have minimal needs when it comes to video conferencing or remote access to a business phone, while an administrative team member may rely heavily on phone or video calls to maintain communication with other employees and vendors.

3. The Cloud

The Cloud has revolutionized how businesses utilize computing resources, and it’s definitely something to consider if you’re looking to upgrade your business’s technology. The most attractive benefits of cloud solutions include potential cost savings and the minimal resources needed to maintain cloud-based applications.

With a cloud-hosted server, the addition of hardware resources can be immediate with very little or no interruption to your business. There are also cloud options that include server updates and patching as part of the solution.

Cloud solutions also offer the flexibility and wide availability that can prove to be beneficial in the current business environment in light of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as future computing.  The Cloud can simplify a team’s access to applications and storage from wherever they are working at a given time, without needing to change workflow or learn new applications.

 

Learn More about How, Where and How Often A Business Should Upgrade its Technology

If done thoughtfully and correctly, technology enhancements can lead to better services that meet the access requirements of the workforce, while encouraging speed and flexibility to address business needs in a shifting operational landscape, all which lead to better service to your customers.

If you’d like to discuss your business’s specific needs and what technology enhancements can make the biggest impact on your company, connect with a Warren Averett Technology Group team member who can help.

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