small business technology

Why Your Small Business Should Consider a Tech Upgrade this Year

Has the business grown in the past year? If so, it may be time for a tech upgrade or two. Knowing when the right time is to buy new equipment isn’t an easy decision. Business owners want to spend as little as possible but also keep up with changing technology.

The decision may lie in whether employees are having issues with the current equipment. Would upgrading improve efficiency or employee morale? How might new technology help the brand expand in the next five years?

Why Is a Technology Upgrade Important for Businesses?

Technology encompasses a wide spectrum of possibilities. Harvard Business Review recently pointed to several new technologies advancing that will change the face of business. For example, 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing are at the point where they’ll soon be used by more people than not. Companies report planning to move around 60% of their IT operations to the cloud by 2025 and over half of companies report adopting some AI.

Still, organizations must balance costs with potential return on investment (ROI). Start by considering some of the reasons you should consider a tech upgrade this year?

1. Keep Up With Competitors

The current economy has most people scrambling to stay within a budget. The cost of everything is on the rise and consumers are spending less as they buckle down and try to survive the rising food and fuel costs in most areas.

Businesses may be reluctant to spend money on equipment. One should pay attention to the competition. If they adopt some AI models that speed up their processes and another brand doesn’t, the business that doesn’t invest may fall behind rapidly.

2. Update Old Equipment

Big purchases, such as computers and manufacturing equipment may only be needed occasionally. If current equipment doesn’t meet industry standards or in some way limits what a company can accomplish, it’s likely time to replace it.

One way to reduce costs is to sell old equipment the brand is no longer using. Before doing so, make sure the IT department or employees prepare the old computer or iPad. For example, log out of all accounts, back up information and restore to factory settings.

3. Reduce Expenses

Old equipment and technology can cost brands money in energy usage and taking more time to complete tasks. If the system frequently crashes, employees may spend half their time rebooting just to begin a task.

Nearly every brand is more conscious of its carbon footprint. Newer machines often have better energy efficiency, which results in lower electricity bills and makes less of an impact on the environment.

4. Improve Security

Old software and equipment is sometimes vulnerable to hackers. Improve security by keeping everything up-to-date, especially programs. The IT department should have a handle on the latest viruses and which system vulnerabilities they are most likely to attack.

Moving to the cloud, for example, might give a company access to a highly-trained, around-the-clock security team the brand otherwise wouldn’t get with just their local IT crew.

5. Reward Employees

Your team works hard to meet deadlines and do the best job possible. One way of rewarding them is ensuring they have the latest gadgets to complete their tasks. For example, if a brand has technicians in the field, having access to a new iPad or notebook computer can make the work run more smoothly.

Implementing equipment that improves the workplace helps with employee happiness. One study showed a comfortable temperature of 72 or 73 degrees ramps up productivity. Installing smart thermostats is inexpensive but improves the office.

6. Integrate Software and Hardware

Older machines and new software don’t always mix. A brand running on old computer hardware might find a new program meant to improve productivity is glitchy at best. At worst, the software may become totally incompatible.

Businesses should upgrade hardware and software every few years at a minimum. While the computer may still do the job it was meant to do, newer models are faster and more reliable. Most of the costs of buying equipment only used in the running of the business are tax deductible. Talk to a professional accountant about the best way to deduct such expenses.

7. Fix Downtime Issues

Did the company miss deadlines and disappoint clients because of massive downtime due to faulty equipment? Anytime old technology negatively affects operations, it’s time to invest in something new or fix what the brand currently has.

The cost of downtime results in negative reviews and damaged reputations. Clients grow fed up quickly with companies that fail to fulfill their promises. They can and will find a competitor that is more reliable.

8. Prepare for a Company-Wide Shift

For brands revamping their image or changing what they do, investing in new technology is a must. Perhaps equipment is better suited for the new operations. Maybe the changes will jolt customers, so the brand wants to ensure the shift runs smoothly.

Only the company leaders know the best use of new tech and what would help them function at the highest level possible. Talk to others who’ve worked with various types of technology and figure out the best solution for new needs.

Why You Should Plan Ahead for New Tech

As a company grows and needs change, investing in tech upgrades is vital. However, it’s also important to plan ahead for which upgrades make the most sense combined with plans for future growth.

Ideally, a company should invest in upgrades annually. Staying on top of new tech keeps a brand a step ahead of the competition.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.