Technology Updates for Your Business

Most American small business owners are relying on outdated technology that is costing their company lost labor, lost reputation and lost income. A Yodle survey of U.S. small business owners found that nearly half have yet to adopt an automated accounting solution, six out of 10 aren’t using appointment booking or scheduling software and two-thirds aren’t using customer relationship management technology. Three out of four companies aren’t using point-of-sale systems and over eight out of 10 aren’t doing acquisition marketing. Using outdated technology for these and other key business functions isn’t just inefficient, it can also cost you customers. Here are some ways outdated technology may be costing your business more than you realize, and what you can do to bring your company’s technology up to speed.

The Cost of Outdated Technology

Outdated technology costs companies in multiple ways. PR Newswire reports workers spend an average of 520 hours a year doing repetitive tasks that could be automated, such as new employee onboarding, password reset requests, office supply requests, and contract review and approval. This lost labor is equivalent to a full day of work each week, which translates into financial losses of $13,202.80 a year per employee, totaling $1.8 trillion annually.

In addition, outdated PCs over four years old are costing companies an average of a week of labor per worker per year for maintenance, repairs and security upgrades, according to Intel research. This amounts to expenses of $427 per computer.

Outdated technology can also cost a company its reputation with customers. Over 90 percent of consumers say that rather than relying on a company with outdated technology, they would consider taking their business elsewhere, according to Microsoft research. Over 80 percent of consumers will leave a company’s website and abandon a shopping cart purchase if the site is outdated.

Taking a Technology Inventory

To keep outdated technology from undermining your business, Staples recommends doing an annual technology upgrade. Timing when to do the upgrade is important because tech costs and workforce demands vary seasonally, often making summer the best time to do upgrades.

To identify and prioritize which technology needs upgrading, digital business consulting company Managed Solution identifies three main reasons for considering an upgrade. The first is when outdated technology is becoming a time drain on your company. Outdated equipment and apps can run slower than newer options, or you may be wasting time handling a task manually that can be automated. For instance, if you can’t keep up with your social media alerts, it’s probably a sign that you need to adopt social media monitoring tools, says Business News Daily.

A second reason to upgrade is to improve your communication. Tools such as live chat, VoIP, videoconferencing and web-conferencing software help companies speed up both internal and external communications. If your company is spending excessive amounts of time on meetings, travel to meetings or phone support, it may be time to upgrade your communications technology.

A third reason to upgrade is to gain a competitive advantage. For instance, Gartner projects that by 2017, over half of business users and analysts will have access to business intelligence (BI) self-service tools, making BI upgrades a competitive necessity in certain industries. Big data analytics, responsive web design and mobile payment processing are other examples of trending technology that may be needed to maintain a competitive edge.

Estimating Upgrade ROI

Justifying a technology upgrade requires demonstrating a return on investment. ClearPath IT Solutions recommends defining your technology budget by first defining how the technology will meet your business objectives and then establishing your technology goals. For instance, a CRM system might meet sales objectives by enabling you to achieve a goal of cultivating more leads per day.

To translate this into ROI, Technology Finance Partners recommends using a four-step process. First, forecast the benefits of the technology upgrade, such as how many hours of labor and corresponding dollars will be saved. Second, project the costs of the upgrade. Third, map the benefits and costs to each other as a cost-benefit analysis. Finally, calculate ROI by subtracting total costs from total benefits and dividing by total costs.

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