I can appreciate that with all the challenges you face as a small business owner, the idea of holding on to what works, for as long as it keeps working, seems to be a good one. After all, why shouldn’t you keep that ten year old printer?
You can still get ink for it online at that specialty dealer in Wyoming, and it prints just fine. Or how about that 8 year old laptop, sure it’s not quite as fast as some of the newer models but it gets the job done.
The powers that be in the tech world are ever pushing new advancements to drive sales and profits and you don’t want to contribute to this vicious cycle! I empathize with you. I too like to squeeze the last drop of productivity out of the things which I have invested my hard won money (much to my wife’s chagrin). Over the next few weeks let’s put aside this view (and our soapboxes) and consider some of the potential downside to holding on to technology too long.
Reliability: The cold hard truth is that things are designed to last for only a certain range of time. We have all come to know the term “built in obsolescence”. This is not to say that you can’t push these limits, but once you start down this road you are rolling the dice on uptime and overall performance. If any of these devices are involved with “mission critical” functions within your organization than you may be taking a risk without the appropriate level of reward in return. Most tech related devices have a lifespan of three to five years. If you take this into consideration ahead of time it is possible to budget for the necessary upgrades instead of having to face a crisis.
Productivity: This is a huge area of discussion because it is often difficult to measure. In the section above I mention “Mission Critical” functions. So, for example, we can look at a File or Email Server that is past its prime of 3 years. In the fourth year there are sporadic performance issues that ultimately lead to the need for replacement. If this results in a server down scenario then it is easy to count the number of hours that productivity has been halted. What is more difficult to measure is the loss of time and productivity during the periods when the server was not operating at peak efficiency. These losses could be the result of slower speeds, frequent need for techs to reboot server, email outages, etc.
When we look at productivity issues for “Non Mission Critical” machines we find similar problems. I am consistently amazed to discover the inventive and ingenious methods workers employ in an effort to overcome technical stumbling blocks to complete their job functions. I am oft reminded of the days when the youngest family member would have to stand in a specific position with “tin folied” antenna in hand to get the perfect television reception. While these “work-arounds” are commendable, they are also great productivity killers that can be largely avoided with the proper technology in place to get the job done.
Next month we will look at other potential hazards of holding on to your technology for too long.
[Editor’s Note – Smallbiztechnology.com is please to welcome Robert Patterson, of Progressive Computing, as a contributing writer to Smallbiztechnology.com. Rob’s business savvy and years of technology experience will be a huge benefit to our audience – Ramon]