The Risk of Outdated Information Technology (IT)

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MainSpring team members are often asked, “What is the lifespan of technology?” The life of both hardware and software depends on the systems created. The better question is, “What is the impact of outdated technology?”

Here’s a quote from the blog, “Breach of Rust: How Hackers Break In Through Old Tech” by Industry Week.

…cybercriminals will leave no hardware unturned when it comes to finding entry points into their targeted networks. These actors are acutely aware that many manufacturing companies are running outdated systems with readily exploitable vulnerabilities, or transitioning to new, more connected technologies that often present additional security concerns.

We know that there is a direct link between outdated technology and today's cybercrime, business inefficiencies, and customer satisfaction.

A current view – post-pandemic IT

For this discussion, let me interject a current event scenario.

Across the DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) regions, many organizations ask their employees to return to the office environment. Recently, I wrote a blog about a crack in your organization’s armor that may let in cybercrime. As we all transition back to the office, or a hybrid environment, it is time to take a long look at our technology plan.

In this return, we realize that our desks look like they did in early 2020. As technology teams rushed to move everyone to work from home (WFH), laptops were quickly deployed. Those desktops have been sitting and quietly aging while we worked from home. Now, you may be wondering what to do with the hardware.

In a rush to keep business churning during the COVID-19 pandemic, your organization may have also lapsed in software upgrades or subscription reviews. Last year, I wrote a blog about software subscription reviews, and it is still an accurate snapshot of budgeting through periodic inspections. Read more about software subscriptions here. But we also need to consider the security risk of outdated software as we mix WFH, a hybrid environment, and a return to the office for many.

Also, remember, business is competitive. Now more than ever. Yes, your technology plan will also impact customer satisfaction. The scaling of technology and your supply chain affects the customer experience. Check out our post on using technology to achieve a 5-Star rating.

7 risks of outdated technology and our solutions

After looking at my current view of business and technology, you may be ready to evaluate the existing IT environment at your organization. Below, I have provided seven ways that outdated technology is impacting your business. And I have provided solutions.

Outdated technology ideas.

Our employees have changed, and business has changed in the past 18 months. Our technology plan needs to immediately change to keep up. It is time to interview both our employees and our customers. Find out what is working and what is not. Did an outdated plan cost the company a new client? Are employees struggling to work on projects as a team? Now is the time for a review.

Take inventory of your IT equipment.

As we re-open offices, it is time to take stock of technology hardware. Idle hardware can be repurposed or even donated, but your technology team should lead the effort. Ensure that your company data is secure by following strict protocols for repurposing, donating, or destroying the hardware. Recently, Consumer Reports published a blog with tips on dealing with old hardware.

Review software use.

Did your organization off-board employees during the pandemic? Now is the time to compare a list of current employees to software subscriptions. You may be paying for subscriptions that are no longer in use. Did your HR department notify your technology team that each employee was off-boarded and their access to software subscriptions was terminated?

Review cloud services.

Is your organization using all of the cloud services that were deployed pre-pandemic? Remember, the habits of your employees have changed. It may be time to amend your plan.

Look at your competition.

There is no doubt that your competition is improving their technology plan. Your competition is also changing and evolving. Is your competition now offering new data, tracking, and services made possible through technology? When was the last time you looked at your competitor's website or social media pages? Do you know how your alignment to IT best practices compare to others in the industry? Do you view IT as a strategic enabler

Passwords still matter.

It is time to provide an employee refresher course on the use of passwords and data security. Your best firewall to cybercrime is a human firewall. It is time to tighten your operating procedures.

Get IT help.

Before the COVID pandemic, you stayed current on trends. The speed of change during the pandemic may have given you whiplash. It may be time to hire a consultant. Virtual CIOs keep their finger on the pulse of technology trends how trends impact your business segment.

Now is the time to get control of your technology

With a change in the business environment, it may take longer to craft your technology plan next year. Do not procrastinate. Now is the time to reach out to your employees and customers and survey your surroundings.