Outdated IT infrastructure can cost and SMB more than just lost income. It can also result in lost trust and lost competitiveness.Business leaders know the IT network is the core of their business. IT tools are necessary to manage business-critical data, interact with clients, or improve the productivity of employees. Keeping your IT network updated is crucial for success in today’s competitive marketplace. However, proactive and routine investment in this core component of business is often delayed or neglected. Experienced business owners know, the best way to minimize IT costs is to invest proactively in your business’s IT infrastructure. In the long run, it’s far more expensive to ignore those costs, both financially and operationally. Below are six key ways that falling behind in IT can result in costlier headaches later on.

  1. Security Risks and Compliance

For businesses and their customers, security risks are the most expensive consequence of an outdated IT network. According to IBM’s 2017 Data Breach Study, businesses in the U.S. who fall victim to data breaches average $3.62M in losses. An IT network that has not been properly managed is the primary target for hackers who want to exploit client data. Your data is valuable, and may be legally regulated depending on your industry and type of data.  Compliance requirements often drive IT spend.

Keeping your IT network current assures the latest security policies are in place to protect your business from outside threats. As part of an information security protection plan, keeping critical patches and updates installed is essential. Servers and workstations should be protected with updated and monitored antivirus and firewall tools, and all products and software should be updated regularly by vendors to eliminate known security vulnerabilities. If regulated data is accessed via a breech in your network, there may be civil or even criminal consequences, resulting in legal filings, loss of reputation, and costly remediation. Investing in security is an investment in your business and the safety of your customers: serious clients demand security of their data.

  1. Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

If your IT isn’t current, your business is increasingly unprepared for an unexpected failure. A catastrophic disruption in your workflow, such as invasive ransomware or a critical hardware failure could result in the permanent loss or inaccessibility of data during the restore process, even if backups are available.

Restores take time—sometimes a lot of time—and affects daily operations and the ability to perform critical business functions. When an IT network fails, unsupported products may be difficult or impossible to troubleshoot, which results in delayed downtimes and immediate emergencies. But, businesses with current IT most likely also have plans for business continuity and disaster recovery. The reward for this proactive approach is a reduction in lost business. Proactive IT management also results in lower and more predictable costs.

  1. Increased Edge Over Competition

Good IT solutions align with your business goals to provide an increased ability to conduct your business, which ultimately increases your bottom line. Introducing updated solutions to your IT environment supports your goals and allows for increased employee productivity reduces the time spent on wasteful activities.

What if you every employee could be more productive? There may be solutions available that accomplish just that. If you are still conducting business with old processes and equipment, you’re missing opportunities for performance gains. The competition in your industry may use technology to offer better customer experiences, faster turnaround times, more efficient processes, and improved security practices. When your IT infrastructure is out-of-date, clients notice, and so does your bottom line.

  1. Reduced Long-Term Project Costs

The longer you wait to update your IT infrastructure, the more expensive it will be. Environments that are actively managed and documented are much easier to migrate to new solutions, cutting down on project hours and, ultimately, cost. IT networks that have fallen behind are a complex mystery to those looking to perform overdue upgrades. To prevent future upgrade projects from being stalled by the discovery of unknowns and unanswerable questions related to end-of-life or legacy systems, it is important to keep all warranties, support agreements, and documentation up-to-date and readily available.

  1. Improved Audits

IT audits, which can take the form of a software licensing or compliance-related audit activities, can have serious consequences if your IT infrastructure is outdated. Licensing, security, and regulatory audits are thorough. Anything in your IT network that needs attention will be flagged, and leaders are often surprised to learn the remediation costs and penalties associated with neglecting the network are often substantial. If your business has not addressed security vulnerabilities, keeping licensing updated and documented, or meeting regulatory standards, you face severe legal and financial penalties. Fortunately, those expenses can be avoided with a properly and proactively maintained and managed IT network.

  1. Improved Reputation

If your business is struggling with out-of-date IT infrastructure employees, industry leaders, regulatory bodies, and current and potential clients know. All these people are concerned with how you manage your data and theirs. If it’s evident that your business can’t keep up with current trends, your reputation will be that you’re unwilling to invest in the core business. A misconception that reduces staff confidence and marketplace trust. This reputation could also result in lost membership to industry organizations, becoming untrusted by market leaders, crippling legal issues, and increased frequency of audits.

What can you do to prevent these costs and not fall behind?

To protect your business, save money, and have confidence knowing your business is operating at peak performance, partner with Advanced Network Solutions. We’ll help you proactively plan the lifecycle of your infrastructure so you always know you’re up-to-date.  This reduces unknowns, emergencies, and improves costs over the lifetime of your IT devices and services. It also provides staff, clients, and the marketplace with the confidence that as a proactive partner you protect not only your own interests, but you take seriously your responsibility to protect theirs.

*Written by Kyle-Craft Jenkins