How important is technology to your business? The cost of conventional wisdom…

Take care of your tools

Every business owner I know relies on PCs to run their organisation. For businesses, whether they be big, small or medium, the PC has become the central tool, the Swiss Army Knife, that runs and manages resource, production, accounting, as well as customer relations. One business owner went so far as to describe his PC as the brain of his business.

However, even though computers now play such a central role, many business owners still aren’t aware of how important it is – both to security and the bottom line – to keep their PCs up to date. Any tradesman will tell you: if you take care of your tools, your tools will take care of you. The same goes for technology, one of the most critical tools for SMEs, the humble PC.

And the statistics prove the story. Recent Techaisle research shows that 70 per cent of SMEs are using PCs that are more than four years old. The reason? The perceived cost of buying a new one. What businesses don’t realise is keeping their old workhorse running costs more than $4,000.

This is a classic case of a conventional wisdom – that it costs more to buy a new PC than to keep repairing an old one – that needs to be rejected.

Like many conventional wisdoms, it has become an accepted fact. However in this case it’s simply not true. Like the great authors of Freakonomics, who tested many conventional wisdoms and found them lacking, we need to review the real cost to SMEs. Particularly in a small nation such as ours where the margins between profit and loss are slim. So, let’s keep the operational costs as trim as possible in order to ensure that the P is big and the L is small.

An “Old” issue

Computers more than four years old are more than twice as likely to experience issues with speed, batteries depleting too soon, disk crashes causing data losses and application crashes. Plus, we all know the frustration of being offline or having your business offline.

With lost productivity and repairs, the total cost of owning a PC that is four or more years old is enough to replace it with two or more newer models.

Also, the only way to fight fresh cyber-attacks is with fresh security updates. Around two-thirds of businesses (67 per cent) surveyed had experienced security issues or data theft breaches in the past year. In a world of increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks you are no longer safe with a simple static security solution.

All organisations from mum-and-dad operations to NASA need to constantly update their security software. Not upgrading your PC or operating system leaves your business at greater security risk. Newer computers and software are more effective at intercepting viruses, malware and other spyware infections and are significantly better at repelling security breaches.

Kiwi SMEs surveyed by Microsoft say their primary goals are:

1) Increasing profitability
2) Business growth and productivity
3) Reducing operating costs

By the above measures, simply investing in up-to-date hardware and software becomes a high-value strategic activity rather than purely a cost of doing business.

Oiling the engine

If your PC really is the central tool in your business’s toolbox then it always makes sense to keep it serviced. We all ensure our WOF is up-to-date and yet so many of use neglect our PCs.
That also goes for updating your operating system.

With more than half of New Zealand’s GDP expected to come from digital products and services by 2021, organisations running newer software will be better able to capitalise on apps and new technology that isn’t supported by older versions such as Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.

So it’s time to test conventional wisdom and make the right choice for your business. Think of it as buying insurance that also delivers increased business performance and extra time. Businesses that take care of their tools will find themselves rewarded many times over. Just ask any tradesman.