7 Tell-Tale Signs Your Business Is Using Outdated Technology

By Mike Taylor
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Is your company using outdated technology? If so, it could be hurting your business more than you realize.

Approximately 91% of consumers said they would stop doing business with a company because of its outdated technology, according to a recent tech survey .

But what’s considered “outdated?” Computers and operating systems are technologies at the top of the list that may impact customer experience. According to the survey, “61% of consumers think a small business is outdated if it’s using a five-to ten-year-old operating system, while close to 60% said the same thing about a five-to ten-year-old desktop computer.”

To help gauge when equipment is on its last legs, it’s important to understand the life expectancies of various technologies. Fortunately, there are some general guidelines as to the recommended lifespans of tech.

Take PCs, for example. In a study of small businesses, Intel says that four years is generally the max before PCs start wearing on a business:

“On average, employees lose 21 more hours by using a PC that is four years or older due to time needed for repairs, maintenance and security issues as compared to PCs that are less than four years old. Repair and maintenance is 1.5 times more frequent on PCs that are four years or older.”

And how long are small businesses keeping PCs on average?

According to Intel’s survey, “small businesses are holding onto PCs significantly beyond the recommended refresh date, with more than 36 percent owning PCs that are more than four years old.”

The same rule can generally be applied to other technologies as well. For example, phone systems typically have a life expectancy of around 5 to 7 years, depending on the setup. 

Okay, so outdated technology can hurt a business’s chances of winning over customers. What if you run a business and the technology you’re using is on the edge of its life expectancy but you’re just not sure whether it’s time to upgrade?

Well, here are 7 tell-tale signs that your technology is in fact outdated and is likely negatively impacting your business.

Slow speeds

Do your computers take forever to boot up or load applications? Does your website take painstakingly long to load? Does using Internet-based software feel like it takes a lifetime? If so, it may be time to upgrade. Slow speeds can be an indication that you either need new hardware, new software (or applications), a faster internet connection, or all three.

When it comes to computers, software and hard drive corruption, lack of RAM and hard disk space, and just plain overloading with too much software can all contribute to slower speeds. Either way, when technology starts lugging around and running slowly, that’s a sign it might be time to upgrade.

Overspending

Perhaps one of the most obvious signs of outdated technology is the amount it’s costing you to keep it running smoothly. Even if you’re not paying a ton in maintenance and repair bills, it could still be that your older technology is holding you back from cost savings of newer technology. After all, modern technology tends to be more efficient (especially cloud-based technology like cloud phone systems), so if you’re starting to notice that other businesses around you are paying less, it could be time to upgrade.

To learn more about the cost savings that a VoIP phone system could provide, take a look at our free VoIP phone system ROI calculator.

Security problems

As technology ages, security vulnerabilities are exposed, which means the older a technology is (or the longer it goes without being updated), the more vulnerable it typically is from a security standpoint. Newer versions of software, for example, often include security patches that have been acknowledged, fixed, and pushed with the latest version. If you never upgrade to the latest version, those security holes don’t get fixed. Over time, security gaps can add up, making your outdated technology more and more vulnerable the longer you hold onto versions of the past.

So if your computer is getting more viruses or you find yourself paying IT resources to fix more security issues, it could be a sign it’s time to upgrade.

Downtime

Does your phone system, computers, point of sale (POS), or other systems crash on a somewhat regular basis? Do you find yourself having to reboot because things “freeze” or “lock up?” Scientific American offers one explanation for why older computers crash: “Newer OSs are robust against application crashes, but in older systems application bugs can affect the OS and cause a system-wide crash.”

Another potential culprit for crashes and downtime could relate to security issues, which also can point back to outdated technology. Regardless of the exact cause, excess downtime due to consistent crashes or freezes are almost certainly a sign it’s time to start looking into updating your technology.

Inability to upgrade or access support

As technology advances and new applications, software, and hardware becomes available, they are often less compatible with older technology and it becomes more and more difficult to hang on to outdated equipment. Manufacturers eventually stop offering upgrades and providing support for outdated technology. This is often the case with legacy phone systems. So if your business is using technology that is no longer being supported or updated by the manufacturer, it may be a sign it’s time to move on to something a bit newer.

Inefficient processes

Another tell-tale sign it’s time for a technology upgrade is the lack of or absence of technology in processes that could be optimized with the use of technology. For example, if you still have someone answering initial incoming phone calls just to route them to the appropriate location or extension, it might be time to upgrade your phone system.

Many modern VoIP phone systems come with an auto attendant (or “IVR”) that answers and routes calls quickly and effectively without the need for dedicated personnel. This allows businesses to streamline their communication process and provide a better, more professional experience for callers.

The list of helpful, productivity-enhancing, cost-cutting business technologies is rather long these days, so if you find yourself getting frustrated with antiquated business processes, it might be time to embrace new technology.

Falling behind competitors

Last but not least, if you’re starting to lose business to competitors as a result of your outdated technology, it’s definitely time to make the move to upgrade. Russ Madlener, senior director at Microsoft, commented, “More than 90% of people [we surveyed] would consider going elsewhere if they perceived the small business is using old and outdated tech.”

It’s really common sense when you think about it. Outdated technology signals to customers that a business either isn’t willing to invest in improvements or it doesn’t have the ability to do so. Either way, like it or not, outdated technology has the ability to send the wrong message to potential customers, so investing in up-to-date technology can go a long way for you business.

Want to upgrade your business to a professional phone system with all the bells and whistles and still save significant amounts of money in the process? Take a look at our free phone system ROI calculator to see just how much money a new, reliable, impressive VoIP phone system could save your business.

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About the Author

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor is a Content Marketing Specialist at Digium. He’s a small business and entrepreneurial enthusiast, and before joining Digium he spent years helping startups and businesses of all sizes grow using content and digital marketing strategies. He covers business and communication topics on Digium’s blog and on other business publications as well.

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