As you know, technology changes rapidly. Today's innovation may be obsolete in a year. Blink your eyes and a cutting-edge smartphone is old news. In an environment like this, it's hard to know when you truly need to upgrade your technology. But new technology can give you a competitive advantage, helping you serve your clients better and run your practice more efficiently.
Today, your IT system is one of the most important things you can upgrade. Maybe you're thinking that your computer and software are good enough—especially if you've upgraded them within the last five years. There are reasons, however, why planning to upgrade your technology every three years is essential for the long-term health of your practice.
3 Reasons Why New Is Necessary
An updated IT system can help you:
1) Do more, every day. You multitask—your computer should, too. Today's systems are equipped with multiple processors, better hard drives, and faster memory. This gives them the power to do a lot, all at the same time. New machines are faster and easier to use, too.
- Invest in a quality machine, with at least a fourth- or fifth-generation Intel i5 processor. With multiple processors, your computer can do many different tasks simultaneously, improving speed and productivity.
- Opt for a solid-state drive (SSD). SSDs are at least 10 times faster than traditional mechanical hard drives. In addition, they don't have any moving parts, so they produce less heat and have a longer battery life.
2) Stay compatible with other systems. We all used to have VCRs. Today, using one would put you at a disadvantage. (Even Blu-ray, which replaced the DVD, is already on its way out!) The same is true of older computer systems. System requirements are always changing. Older computers don't deliver all the benefits of new equipment or work seamlessly with the latest software.
With older systems, you might also encounter some of these common problems:
- They are generally not supported by the original manufacturer, making them a security risk.
- They cannot run the newest software available.
- They don't run as fast, bringing your productivity level down.
3) Protect your sensitive data and information. Spyware, viruses, and hackers—they're the boogeymen of the digital age. To fight these cyber threats and keep your confidential information secure, you need the newest equipment with the latest technology, including the most secure operating systems, web browsers, and encryption applications. They can help eliminate many of the potential threats you face. (Commonwealth supplements this protection with our own cybersecurity program, the Commonwealth Shield.)
Even More Benefits
New computer systems take up less space and use less power. They have more memory and they're more powerful. They're also new. On average, a computer's hard drive lasts only three to five years. Once it fails, it's gone for good. And pulling files and data off a failed hard drive is not always possible. A new system is an effective way to avoid this problem. Many times, in fact, a new computer is cheaper than a separate hard drive and backup system.
Newer systems can say a lot about your practice, too:
- To employees: New systems say you're committed to giving them the best tools to do their jobs.
- To clients: New systems say you're doing all you can to gain them an edge. They also say that you have the financial means and long-term vision to invest in technology.
Affordable Ways to Upgrade
Finding the money to pay for a new computer system may be easier than you think. Here are some suggestions you might consider:
- Make it part of next year's capital plan. By looking ahead, you can build a budget for this expense and come up with a plan for funding the cost. You might also consider making it a planned and recurring capital expense every three years.
- Try rolling upgrades. Instead of replacing all of your computers at once, try adding a new one every quarter. This will spread out your costs and help manage your cash flow.
- Just do it. If you have just a few computer systems in your office, upgrade them all at once. By getting it all done right away, you'll minimize the disruption to your practice. You may be able to negotiate a lower price on the equipment, too.
Don't forget the tax break. According to Section 179 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, most small businesses can deduct the full purchase price of qualified equipment in a single tax year. There are guidelines and limitations that apply, so be sure to check with your tax professional before taking advantage of this deduction.
Should You Upgrade Your Technology?
There's nothing worse than the frustration caused by slow performance or system crashes when you've got a deadline looming. As a member of Commonwealth's Technology HelpDesk, I help a lot of financial advisors investigate and resolve computer problems. And sometimes, the only solution is to upgrade your technology.
So, if you're having trouble opening documents, waiting ages for webpages to open, or worried about viruses and hackers—not to mention wanting to give your practice the competitive advantage—you may want to consider purchasing a new system.
Have you recently chosen to upgrade your technology? Was the investment worth it for your practice? Please share your thoughts below.