Technology is no longer an accessory in business; it’s an essential tool. Despite its increasingly central importance, tech isn’t always a high priority for business owners and C-level executives, particularly if they’re able to muddle through with what they’ve had for years. It’s understandable to be change-resistant to a degree. Change always comes with a learning curve, and it can require a significant initial investment. Waiting too long to change, though, leaves you with no options when your old software and hardware finally breaks down or becomes too obsolete to use.
Here’s how to upgrade as painlessly as possible – and why that’s important.
Staying Ahead of the Technology Curve
When it comes to the most basic operations your technology performs, tools that are five or ten years old can still cope, at least in some departments. The fundamentals of accounting or inventory maintenance are pretty much the same now as they have been since the turn of the century. What’s changed is how flexible these systems can be and how seamlessly information can flow into and out of them. Take inventory maintenance as an example. Instead of renting proprietary hardware and working within a siloed system, you only need a cellphone that can scan bar codes and an integrated software system that automatically links procurement, sales, and inventory in a single central database.
Reliability and Maintainability
Another reason to upgrade is the flexibility of modern technology. Cloud storage allows you access from any node, including mobile devices, which frees you from the constraints of the office or the need to back up constantly. Newer equipment is also robust; it’s made to move, and you can take your computer or smartphone with you to work sites – try that with your temperamental desktop. Maintaining newer equipment is straightforward, too; you no longer have to put your IT team through an archaeological dig to find compatible software or operations manuals that are years out of date.
Making the Move
There are numerous reasons to upgrade, but how do you make the switch to a new system? These pointers will ease the process for you and your organization.
Ask a Digital Native
People who have grown up around modern tech all their lives have a facility with it that digital non-natives may not. That doesn’t mean mature users can’t learn, but when upgrading, seek input from your younger personnel about what they consider important in the technology they use. They’ll be happy to share their insights and point out software that isn’t a good fit – and why – as well as steering you toward tools they find indispensable. Your IT team’s advice is essential too, but you want to make sure the end users, including your most tech-savvy employees, will be comfortable with their next-generation tools.
Get Ready to Train
Installation isn’t the same as implementation. One of the most common mistakes companies make when investing in technology upgrades is forgetting to schedule adequate time and attention to training. It doesn’t matter how fast the car goes if you don’t have the team to drive it, fuel it, and change the tires.
Intuitive software and hardware is the gold standard in consumer technology, and that’s also true for enterprise-level solutions. To be your choice for years to come, your new technology needs to be intuitive to use and compatible with other systems. Migrating data from the old software to the new system is a challenge if you’re making a big leap, which is another reason to stay up to date with incremental upgrades. It’s relatively easy to move from Windows 8 to Windows 10, but if you’re still using Windows 95 – and believe it or not, some companies are – you’re going to run into significant hurdles when moving data to its new home. If you move to a different platform altogether, data migration becomes even more difficult. Choosing a platform that minimizes the pain of migration is a valid concern.
Plug and Play
One of the best ways to get familiar with new technology is to play with it. Make full use of demos and spend some time in sandbox mode to familiarize yourself and your team with the new tech.