Many small business owners are operating their companies on some pretty tight budgets these days, and that often means that they have to make do with a little less in the way of technology than they might like. However, new research suggests that devoting resources to buying updated computers can actually be a major benefit to businesses, and those that don’t might end up costing themselves in some way.
Today, about 36 percent of small businesses in at least somewhat industrialized nations (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russia, and the U.S.) have computers that are more than four years old, according to the recent Intel Small Business PC Refresh Study. These machines typically require more maintenance and have other difficulties, all of which can combine to cut into worker productivity and increase costs significantly. In general, the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, seems to apply when it comes to replacing older computers as opposed to keeping them and dealing with the associated headaches that tend to crop up more and more often.
“Upgrading to new PCs is one of the wisest choices a small business can make,” said Rick Echevarria, vice president of the PC Client Group and general manager of the Business Client Platform Division at Intel. “PCs are largely considered the foundation for many of these companies, and this study makes a clear cut case for refreshing them on a regular basis.”
Specific findings show just how bad the problem can be
Workers who have to use computers that are four or more years old at the office will usually lose about 21 more hours of productivity on those machines, the report said. This is due to security problems these machines pose and the larger amount of maintenance they often require, as well as the time needed four repairs, because they need to be fixed about 150 percent more often than newer computers.
Further, those needs for extra repairs can be substantial, the report said. Small businesses tend to spend an average of $427 annually to repair PCs older than four years old, compared with about $328 for newer ones. What might be most concerning, though, is that it’s computers in the U.S. that tend to be the oldest, with 8 percent of companies there using PCs that are five years old or more. That’s quite high compared with a worldwide average of 5 percent, and the global low of India’s 1 percent.
The above mentioned security concerns should also be at the front of small business owners’ minds, as suffering a data breach can be ruinous for companies of any size, the report said. Of those polled, nearly half didn’t know that Microsoft was set to discontinue support for the Windows XP operating system, meaning that significant security issues and other things related to maintenance needs were far more likely to crop up in the future. That comes as a result of the automatic updates the software giant periodically sends out no longer being issued.
For these reasons, companies that have waited to buy new computers, or remain wary of the cost, may at the very least want to invest some money in the kind of small business insurance policies that can help to insulate them from the financial fallout. This tech insurance can help companies save as much as tens of thousands of dollars (or more) in the event that they are hit by a data breach or other type of security concern that carries a massive price tag.