Computers are expensive to buy and expensive to upgrade but relying on old equipment or forsaking upgrades could cost you dear in the long run. So, how can you save here?
Computers are still one the biggest investments for business and so it might seem like an obvious candidate for cuts. But an antiquated or unreliable computer system can be a millstone around the neck of any organization. Whether it’s Microsoft or Apple, downtime due a crashed IT system is wasted time. Old hardware and software go down more often than newer, debugged versions.
If staff numbers are reduced then more procedures will necessarily be carried out automatically by computer. Running older software can make a company’s systems incompatible with those of suppliers and customers, while attempting to run new software on older computers also presents a host of technical problems.
Cloud Computing Can Save Money
But it is possible to keep costs down while maintaining an effective, up to date IT infrastructure. Like so many suppliers, IT companies are reducing prices and offering discounts in the current economic climate. More generally, almost by its very nature the cost of computing equipment falls as technology evolves. Meanwhile, new developments such as cloud computing and open source software can offer benefits to business as they have been doing to individuals.
Because cloud computing involves companies using data storage and other facilities run by a third party, it means that they are, in effect, outsourcing much of their IT systems. If, for instance, they suddenly need more data storage capacity or computing muscle, instead of having to buy the necessary equipment, they can simply rent what they need from their cloud computing supplier, be it Google, Microsoft or any of the smaller entrants into this fast growing market.
Reducing an IT requirement is also quicker and simpler for companies using this very flexible system. It can help with cash flow as clients in effect rent space and technology rather than paying out large sums to purchase it.
Cloud Computer and Security
Worldwide cloud computer service revenue is set to surpass $56.3 billion in 2009, a 21.3 per cent increase from 2008, Gartner, Inc, the research company announced in a report called Forecast: Sizing the Cloud; Understanding the Opportunities in Cloud Services, on March 26th last year. The market is expected to reach $150.1 billion in 2013, said Gartner. Rightly or wrongly, though, some IT directors still harbor concerns about the security of using external servers. Data and IT security is one area where cuts could lead to serious problems and outages as fraudsters become more sophisticated and well resourced themselves.
Equally fast growing is open source software, which is available for any interested party to contribute improvements and amendments to its code. This too can also help reduce costs – upgrades are more frequent than proprietary software and they are, of course, free. Systems such as Mozilla and Linux have revolutionized the domestic and now the business computing market. Linux, for instance, was created by a Finnish student in the early nineties but is now used by IBM and Hewlett-Packard amongst others.
Getting Customer Relationship Management Right
According to Robert Epstein, Head of Small Business for Microsoft UK, in an email interview with the author, other innovations such as Customer Relationship Management systems and what are known as unified communications, in other words the combining of email, voicemail and SMS, can also bring dividends when it comes to delivering IT which is not only cost effective but can improve business performance in a difficult market by enabling people to respond to changing business conditions with greater insight and speed than ever before.
Even in a downturn, keeping your technology up to date is a worthwhile investment.