time-to-upgrade

It’s no secret: the past few decades have involved a major digital transformation. Once novel activities, like email and social media, have become so commonplace, people around the world seem to draft dozens to hundreds of messages a day without much thought before hitting send. Now, with the proliferation of smartphones, we have geotagging, Snapchat, Uber, and Pokémon Go. The line between life offline and online is blurring.

The rate at which things change can feel overwhelming, but resist the temptation to avoid the digital revolution and try to operate your business in the dark ages. (You’ll miss out on a whole lot of customers who are hanging out online.)

Plus, “technological products and solutions are becomingly increasingly affordable,” said Erik Hanson, a solution specialist at the IT support company Tecnet Canada. This enables small business owners “to increase customer satisfaction, increase security, increase their business continuity against disruptions both natural (e.g. flooding and electrical) as well as manmade (e.g. viruses, malware, ransomware), while at the same time decreasing time spent on maintaining technology.”

Hanson gave us the scoop about how to decide when it’s time to upgrade your IT products and services.

Tell Tale Signs

Hanson shared the most common issues that crop up with software and technology:

Age

Any technology older than three years should have to justify its existence. Technology is always evolving and older models are more likely to be affected by security vulnerabilities. “Three years also is the standard warranty on business grade workstations, after which components could fail and result in outages affecting revenue,” he said.

Class

Are you slugging along with standard consumer grade kit? Now might be the time to upgrade. “Business class equipment is built to a higher standard than consumer equipment and designed to last longer and work to a higher standard,” Hanson said. “For example, a business class product may come with a warranty where a service provider comes to your business instead of having to send it in by mail.”

Speed

If your computer regularly grinds to a standstill, whether it’s accessing files, opening a web browser, or printing a document, something is wrong. “Latency or slowness is another tell-tale problem that something needs to be fixed,” Hanson said. “You may need to consult with your IT professional to determine the cause.”

It Annoys You

There doesn’t have to be a specific problem, Hanson said: “If you hate a piece of software, then it’s not the right solution for you.”

Network Cabling

If your network cabling was installed in the last 10 years, it shouldn’t require upgrading unless there is physical damage to the cable. “However, if you are consistently getting disconnected from the network, you may want to consult a cabling professional,” Hanson said. “We recommend using a qualified electrical contractor.”

Tecnet Canada coordinates with the client and an electrical contractor to determine the best way to route the cabling and install the optimal number of runs at one time. “It is generally more cost effective to run multiple cables at once than paying for repeat visits,” Hanson explained.

WiFi

Your WiFi needs to be upgraded more frequently than network cabling. Here are signs it’s time to do so:

  • WiFi should be upgraded if the public can access the same network as your business.
  • WiFi should be upgraded if your current WiFi doesn’t provide 802.11AC, the current standard for any equipment purchased in the past three years.
  • WiFi should be upgraded if you are using a consumer solution bought from a retail store that’s meant for home use.
  • WiFi should be upgraded if your solution does not have content filtering.
  • WiFi should be upgraded if your solution does not have analytic reporting.

Network Cables vs WiFi

So which is better — network cables or WiFi? It really depends on what you value more: speed or mobility. “Network cables and WiFi both still have a place in a florist’s business,” Hanson said. “ Network cabling still provides the fastest experience. The downside is you are limited to where you can install connections to your equipment.” WiFi, on the other hand, “can be installed almost anywhere, allowing better mobility, and it has a lower price per connected device, ” he said.

Keep Ahead of Problems

In a world of ever-evolving technology, the old support model (calling your “computer guy” every time something goes wrong) seems unsustainable. Instead, many businesses are moving towards manager service providers (MSP) who proactively monitor your computers and networks, essentially acting as a virtual IT department. “The benefits for the small business is they have a known recurring expense, as well as cost forecasting, allowing for financial planning,” Hanson said.

If monitoring and managing the IT side of your business is taking up too much of your time, you might want to consider an MSP who will take over all things tech for you. This will free up your time to work on, well, work!

Abby Driver
Abby Driver is a freelance journalist in Truro, England, who has written on
topics such as millennial culture and feminist weddings.
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