April 14, 2023
These days, as the popular saying goes, “all companies are tech companies.” Maybe not all, but the vast majority are. Tech is at the core of everything — sales, marketing, communications, security. Not to mention, in this increasingly remote-centric world, the work itself.
That’s why it’s essential to make sure your IT game is on point. Fail at that and everything else crumbles. Productivity fizzles. Costs increase. Security lags. This has been the case for years, of course, but it’s never been more crucial to address.
Way back when, in 2019, Zenbusiness.com surveyed 907 office workers about the negative effects of outdated IT systems. First, we should note that fully half of respondents confirmed their systems were outdated. Yikes. Not surprisingly, their jobs were made harder as a result.
“Outdated technology had the biggest effect on productivity, with about two in three employees indicating it had a major or moderate impact on their ability to do their jobs effectively,” a write-up of the survey noted. “For example, poor-quality computers can burden IT with help requests and result in a loss of productivity when employees can’t work due to repairs or maintenance.
“More importantly, outdated technology can be detrimental to an office’s security and sensitive data. Old computers aren’t compatible with new software systems or hardware, making them vulnerable to attacks and potential data breaches. Workers who reported being subjected to an environment with outdated cybersecurity were the most likely to say they would look for a new job to eliminate this security risk (40.1%).”
IT in the 2020’s
Not much has changed since then, and for a variety of reasons that seem valid (overextended IT department, expensive implementation of new tech, etc.) but mostly aren’t. Not when you consider that outdated tech can ultimately put a business at risk in a number of ways.
Here’s a great rundown of signs that your IT system needs upgrading. A handful of them include:
- Outdated tech (computers, personal devices)
- More downtime
- Scaling difficulties
- Decreased employee productivity
- Reduced customer attraction and retention
Some other telltale signs include high maintenance costs to fix antiquated or broken on-prem systems, as well as increased security concerns. That last one is particularly troubling, given that cybersecurity attacks are constantly on the rise and getting more sophisticated. “We see an increasing trend towards trickle-down of advanced attack techniques, from Apex Predator groups to nation-state attackers moving into more and more tools and techniques that are available for a broader range of cybercriminal and ransomware groups,” one expert told ThreatPost.com.
In a recent article on CIO.com, tech journalist John Edwards allowed that “Deciding on whether to scrap or keep existing infrastructure of any stripe isn’t easy. A complete rebuild can be disruptive, time-consuming, and risky. And if the initiative misses its goal, or runs over budget, the CIO’s job may be at stake.”
However, he went on, “when technical infrastructure fails to meet enterprise needs, hampering productivity and innovation, it’s often time to rebuild from scratch. The same can be said for how IT operations, workflows, and teams are structured. Knowing when it’s time for a wholesale reorg requires even more from an IT leader than knowing when the bits and bytes have worn out their shelf life.”
To be optimally effective, Edwards stressed that IT leaders need a permanent seat at the C-suite table. It’s not a new notion, but it’s one that has gained more traction in recent years. “As an outcome of the pandemic, CIOs around the world elevated their status, reputation and credibility with all of their C-level peers and their boss,” Janelle Hill, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, told CIODive.com. “Most now enjoy a ‘trusted partner,’ ‘strategic advisor’ or similar relationships with their CxO peers.”
Are Changes in Sight?
Even so, a 2023 LinkedIn analysis of 500,000 C-suite hirings found that despite the growing prominence of CIOs in the C-suite, CIOs didn’t even crack the top 10 of most frequent executive hires. Which is to say, there’s plenty of room for improvement. After all, IT upgrades need someone to spearhead them — and someone to explain why they’re necessary (more revenue, increased profit margins, etc.) to CFOs and CEOs who may be less technologically adept but nonetheless control the purse strings.
As one analysis put it, “Technology is transforming every industry, and companies need to adapt or risk being left behind. By definition, the digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. It’s an ongoing process of continuous improvement, and companies need to be prepared to invest the time and resources necessary to make it happen.”
When you’re ready to take the leap, here’s a handful of basic best practices for upgrading your IT systems:
- Conduct a thorough IT audit to determine what needs updating and what doesn’t
- Define your requirements: hardware, software, security measures, etc. If you’re a remote or hybrid company, for example, requirements might differ from those of an organization whose employees are mostly on-site.
- Devise a migration plan to port your old data to your new system. (Some experts recommend a three-phase process)
- Choose the right IT solutions — ones that meet your specific needs, goals and (of course) budget. This can include enlisting the help of an established managed services provider.
- Make sure your employees are properly trained on new software/hardware, workflows and best practices — an approach otherwise known as “upskilling.”
According to one tech exec, “By far the best way to upgrade is to build a new system from scratch with your current requirements. Taking legacy systems and trying to transform them is the same as trying to remodel a 50-year-old house. You will never get what you really want.”
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.