Recently a client came to us wanting new laptops and IT equipment. Of course, they were in a hurry as time is money, and waiting around for something as ordinary as a new laptop seemed alien to them. New laptops were ordered with the latest specs and software. A simple transfer of data from the old machines should have been a breeze but turned out to be anything but. It shouldn’t have surprised me, yet it did. The client was horrified when faced with being offline for a significant amount of time.
It turned out the client had not upgraded or done any upkeep on the company’s systems in years. Just assuming everything worked ok, because it seemed to. However, a hopelessly outdated email exchange server, hard drives that were full to breaking point and programmes that simply wouldn’t talk to each other posed serious challenges when it came to transferring the data to the new laptops.
If nothing fails, no one notices, but we know certain things need regular servicing to keep going, just look at cars. You wouldn’t drive one around for years without paying for upkeep and every few years you upgrade the tires and replace parts because of wear and tear. Your smartphone is regularly busy with updates, and you upgrade your smartphone every couple of years to ensure you have the best user experience. Yet, businesses are so busy running focusing on their primary activities such as sales, servicing clients, and generally trying to stay afloat that they rarely give any thought to their ICT systems. IT systems require investment, they require upkeep, and they require backups and especially now that systems have become business-critical and need to be ‘always on’.
Downtime can be avoided, as can loss of data, and employees can continue to work even when upgrades and upkeep are carried out on IT systems. As a business, being faced with any significant downtime can lose you sales, turnover, and reputation and make you seem unprofessional. Customers don’t want to hear that services or products can’t be provided due to IT issues. Being offline for one day can be hugely damaging.
That is why it is essential to either have a dedicated person in charge of keeping the IT equipment and accompanying software up to date, or to outsource this task. Make sure the virus scanners are working and that all data is stored properly so that even if there is a major failure somewhere, the data is not lost. A lot of smaller, but even large companies and organisations do not make this investment until it is either too late, or the whole organisation is offline. When they do finally decide to upgrade it becomes such a major overhaul that it becomes exceedingly costly and time-intensive.
Some people probably wonder why I even worry about this, the mysteries of ICT, equipment, software, and new applications, the Internet, and (cloud) storage solutions mean we have a viable business and there’s no end in sight as innovation and technology keeps moving forward at breakneck speed. It does worry me though as I see companies coming to us that have no idea why suddenly their systems aren’t working anymore and why we can’t just wave a magic wand to make everything right again. In this case, the ‘magic wand’ is waved slowly over time and does upkeep, maintenance, and the necessary upgrading of equipment and software to keep everything working optimally. So that the business can focus on its primary business and not worry about ‘downtime’.