Deciding when the business needs to make an upgrade is to look for signs that the IT infrastructure is creaking under the strain. The most evident sign to any SMB is if they find their operations becoming increasingly inefficient, time consuming and costly. With the latest in technology available at a touch of a button, most processes should now be seamless, and when this is not the case, it is time to upgrade the network equipment.
However, often these signs may not obvious. Consider asking the following ten questions to help decide when it is time to refresh your network equipment
1.Is the hardware across your organization fit for purpose?
Consider asking your staff if they feel handicapped by the hardware and software they are using. If they are, it's a false economy not to upgrade.
2. Are competitors and your general industry using any standards?
Often hardware and software platforms become standards onto which new services are built. If your systems aren't compatible, this is a commercial opportunity missed.
3. What systems are the largest players in your industry using?
If large businesses within your industry are making huge investments in technology, your business may have to upgrade its IT to keep up and remain relevant.
4. What would the overall benefit of an upgrade be to your business?
New technology always comes with new and innovative advancements. Can you afford not to use them? Can you afford not to miss the opportunity to learn how to incorporate these new tools efficiently into your operations? For instance, in the retail sector, mobile and card-less payments look set to become massively important – are you sure you want to sit this one out? Can your business afford not to support these services by upgrading its IT?
5. Can new technology make your business more efficient and competitive?
Simply buying the latest computers or mobile devices isn't enough. Think about how these upgrades would directly influence your business' bottom line. For instance, inventory management systems track inventory availability, automate reordering on the most financially beneficial schedules, and reduce carrying costs and waste. Allowing your employees to work faster with greater flexibility will translate into greater profits.
6. Does your current tech infrastructure offer robust contingency services?
Many businesses are now reliant on servers and the precious information they contain. Contingency planning needs solid and reliable IT to ensure your business can recover from a data breach or a cyber-attack.
7. Is your business using mobile devices across a wide geographical area?
As business is now transacted on the move, the latest tablets and smartphones need to be properly supported. It is ineffective to your business to try and use the latest gadgets with ancient servers and networks.
8. Are your business-critical systems still supported?
At some point vendors will stop issuing updates to their applications. For instance, Windows XP and Windows 2003 no longer have regular security patches issued. In these circumstances delaying your upgrade could place your business and its customer data at risk.
Upgrading systems and infrastructure always comes with a cost. Therefore, SMB’s need to look at ways to manage these costs and safeguard cash flow. SMBs can effectively manage this cost through cloud migration. The cloud has transformed how small businesses operate. Moving some data storage and key business services to the cloud can be a way for smaller enterprises to remain competitive without investing heavily into upgrading their primary systems.
In terms of the core infrastructure of an SMB, the ever more pervasive and mature offerings provided by cloud service providers – whether as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – mean SMBs don't need to worry about the hardware and some of the related software.
With software, the shift towards a subscription-based ownership model can prove highly attractive. New boxed software can be expensive for small businesses to invest in. However, when considering a subscription-based service, business owners should pay close attention to the support they will receive and whether they would need additional upgrades – such as networks or servers – to really gain tangible benefits by moving to this model.
Upgrading your business hardware and software is often a commercial choice that depends on how your enterprise is currently operating. Maintaining efficiency is important – and upgrading your organisation's tech will ensure you are ready to support the latest trends across your market. Speak to the experts at CSG Technologies who can help you make the right decision and ensure you spend your money in the right places and gain the maximum benefits.