Is Old Computer Hardware Slowing Your Business Down?
Old hardware is pretty cool these days. Vintage cabinet pulls, antique hinges and light fixtures, and repurposed barn wood are the rage in giving new homes warmth and character. Old computer hardware isn’t cool at all, though, especially if it’s slowing your business network.
According to a study by J. Gold Associates, if your PCs are 5 years old or older:
Your employees are 29% less productive.
Each of those PCs is costing up to $17,000 a year in lost productivity.
And each wastes an average of 11 hours per year because of slow startup.
“There’s definitely a correlation between the success of a retail business and its computer hardware,” explains Mike Horn, senior operations officer at Paladin Data Corporation which provides digital platforms for independent retail businesses. “If you truly have your customer’s interest at heart and want the best shopping experience for them, why run on old equipment?”
There are many reasons retail businesses should upgrade their hardware, but the most obvious to the users is their computer’s speed or lack of it.
Slow performance is often the first sign that your computer hardware may be on its last bytes. If they are more than a few years old, you’re probably running newer and more taxing programs than when you purchased the system. You’ve probably taken up quite a bit of storage with documents and photos, too.
Using computer hardware that is more than 3 years old with the latest software is like driving a tractor on an interstate freeway. You’re either in the slow lane or you’re causing traffic jams. Probably both.
There are plenty of reasons beyond age that computer hardware seems to slowly grind into an aggravating game of hourglass-watching or “Not Responding” messages. Adding software or downloading new programs can gum up and slow performance. Visiting sketchy websites and reading dubious emails can add viruses or malware to your system, too.
Slower performance not only decreases productivity, it increases the chance of a system or network crash.
“If you think about your business computer as your link to profitability, you would probably replace them more often. Your business relies on this equipment,” Horn explains. “It’s kind of funny. People will go out and spend $60,000 on a new pickup, but they hesitate at investing $1,100 a new PC.
“They use those computers all day, and they use them every day for years. Some people get crazy if a computer goes out after six years. I tell them if they got six years out of their computer, that’s amazing.”
System requirements needed to run a critical retail business platform with functions such as point of sale systems, customer loyalty programs, and back office operations can be more demanding than older computer hardware can handle.
October 2018 figures from NetMarketShare, which tracks usage of web technologies, show that 42% of businesses still use Windows 7-based platforms, while only about 35% have upgraded to Windows 10. While that may not seem like a critical issue, consider that Microsoft will end extended support for Windows 7 in January 2020.
New business platforms often have more rigorous system requirements than older platforms because they offer more features, integrations and automation. Not only do they handle point of sale and inventory management, sophisticated platforms can reach out to new shoppers with digital marketing and social media management, service regular customers with loyalty and incentive programs, handle industry and governmental compliance and regulations, and handle back office operations such as payroll, benefits and taxes.
Modern business platforms also work in both the cloud and with mobile applications to make store operations more flexible and agile. Having equipment that meets or surpasses the system requirements of a business’s operating platform not only improves operating speed, it increases system and network reliability and security.
of businesses still use Windows 7-based platforms
have upgraded to Windows 10
Outdated security is probably at the top of the list when deciding if it’s time to replace your business computers. In an age when 55% of small businesses report a cyberattack each year, network security is paramount.
In small businesses that rely on just one or two computers to operate, one usually serves as the business database. It often contains all the customer, employee and operational data. If it crashes or is breached by a hacker or ruinous malware, that business could be out of business for a significant period of time. Data loss can cost thousands in lost revenue, which is crucial for small, independent businesses.
Small businesses have just as much to lose as large corporations but are at a disadvantage because they don’t have large IT departments to monitor their networks. The cost of data breaches is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2020, and while most merchants think cyberattacks target big business, the Verizon 2017 Data Breach Investigation Report shows that 61% of breaches hit smaller businesses.
A UPS Capital report adds: cyberattacks cost small businesses between $84,000 and $148,000 to remediate, and 60% of small businesses fold within six months of an attack.
So, in addition to upgrading business hardware, it’s a good idea to employ a business whose specialty is protecting networks which include hardware, software and business data.
“It’s important to have a managed, multi-tiered approach to security. Having simple antivirus, patch management and backups on your PCs isn’t enough these days,” says John Oetinger, director of Managed Network for Paladin Data Corp. “A professionally managed network increases uptime, performance and security.”
of small businesses fold within six months of an attack
of small businesses report a cyberattack each year
Time to Upgrade?
Peter Alexander, vice president of worldwide commercial marketing at Cisco Systems Inc., tells Entrepreneur.com that there are some simple questions business owners need to ask themselves if they think they need a technology upgrade.
Are your employees spending more time trying to accomplish tasks? Older, sluggish hardware requires longer startups and more time to do often routine work.
Has your business upgraded its applications? Merchants who have improved their business platforms or simply added new software often overtax their equipment jeopardizing performance, reliability and security.
Are you planning to grow your business or expand your network? If you add a new PC to your point of sale system, bring in someone to do your marketing, or add mobile applications, new hardware will help those programs run efficiently.
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it’s probably time to consider ditching your old hardware and upgrading.