She Asks IT, He Answers IT

Fix It or Nix It? When to End a Tech Relationship

She Asks IT

Today, we essentially marry our technology.

When we buy a computer, cell phone or other equipment, we expect a long-lasting relationship. When we turn it on, we expect it to work – and work exactly the same way it worked the last time. We want that “’til death do us part” vow.

I took that vow with my first laptop about 10 years ago. With that spiffy new blue and silver Dell Inspiron, it was love at first boot.

Sure, we had our little spats. A power cord issue here. A screen lock up there.

After about 5 years, though, the quarrels became more frequent. He took forever to boot up. He ran far too slow. His fully charged battery now lasted less than an hour. And his hard drive was filled almost to the brink.

One night, Charles said, quite unemotionally, “You’re going to need a new one.”

A new one?  It hit me like a ton of motherboards. But all my “stuff” was on this one! Charles helped me pick out a new model, but I knew it would not be the same.

I was right. It was better!

I was shocked at how easily I fell in love again. My new laptop came with a webcam, DVD player/burner and a Chiclet keyboard that I absolutely adore. It also has a lightning fast processor (at least, for now) and plenty of hard drive space. The best part? Charles transferred every document and photo from the old hard drive onto this one before I even touched it. I wondered why I waited so long.

So, when do you know it’s time to say goodbye to the old and invest in the new? What are the “life spans” of various pieces of equipment, like laptops?

In other words, when should you stop paying for technology counseling and start considering divorce?

He Answers IT

One major goal in business is maximizing return on investment.  No single answer exists for every technological device, situation or office. Generally, when it comes to technology, the investment is much easier to quantify than the return on it.

For instance, you know you spent $1,000 on a computer three years ago, but what return are you getting on that investment today? Chances are it is far less than you were getting when you bought it. Sure, you just upgraded to this brand new application that is supposed to do everything but make you morning coffee, but, because it is running on older computers, it runs twice as slow as the application you were using.

Hardware and software should exist in a symbiotic relationship. They depend on each other. To operate properly, that new software package may require an upgraded or entirely new server. It may require additional memory in your workstations. You may need to make the switch to gigabit Ethernet to really make your new software shine.

But new hardware brings its own set of questions. If you need to install a new server, will all of your data transfer and run correctly on the new operating system? Will you have to upgrade some of the software on your workstations?

Or can you simply stick with your old system and “make it work” with a workaround?

Before I ran my own business, I was willing to deal with less than optimal technology. Now, though, I do not have time (or patience) for much inefficiency. I know I will pay for that lack of maximum efficiency one way or another. Plus, I am too old for the headaches that come with trying to “workaround.”

Some of the businesses I have encountered operate with the cheapest and the oldest technology they can get away with. I sit down at computers that I would not use in my own office because they are too slow and/or problematic.

Many managers just do not know other options exist or how much they will cost, even though, in many cases, they might be surprised at how economical a new solution is. In most cases, it is probably worth having an expert at least look at it and give a recommendation.

For example, Cheryl and I lived in our “new” home for three years before I had the air conditioner serviced. It was old and, frankly, I was afraid of what the technician might recommend. The unit did not run at peak efficiency, of course, but was it really that bad?

I recently paid a local HVAC company $75 to service the air conditioner. Our bill dropped about 30 percent immediately.  With the 100+ temperatures we are having, I estimate that I will save at least $75 dollars this month and completely recoup my investment. Plus, my hot-natured wife is much happier, and so am I. Those things are priceless.

Just like everything in life, a steady, balanced approach to technology replacement is usually best. I have no desire to sell anyone anything they do not need, but I also know that huge improvements can be made with a few focused expenditures. Business networks contain many components. They do not have to all be upgraded at once.

Find out your options, gather the relevant information and make good business decisions. Give me a call and let me discuss the solutions available for your business. It may be less costly and painful than you fear and more rewarding than you imagine.