Business continuity is a matter of staying competitive as well as operational. With much of current business revolving around computers, that means ensuring that IT resources are effective and efficient. However, the fastest processors and the most recent versions of software do not automatically confer competitive advantage on the companies using them. Indeed, the standard three year cycle to upgrade PCs is considered by some to be a subterfuge by certain IT vendors to keep their sales figures up – PCs, operating systems and popular applications such as spread-sheet software may have useful life expectancies of considerably longer. So what should you upgrade and when?
While new functionality and even fashion are drivers for getting customers to upgrade, vendor support is also a key factor. Whether the vendor or the market decides how long support will continue is another matter. Windows XP is only just approaching its end of support period now, after ten years of customer popularity and loyalty. And the archetypal computing dinosaur that is the mainframe computer is still going strong. Despite widespread predictions of demise as much as twenty years ago, IBM in particular managed to successfully revamp its mainframes. Many customers still appreciate having just one central, secure computing resource to manage rather than diverse populations of servers and PCs.
Organisations should make their own decisions about upgrades, according to their requirements: not only for hardware and software, but also for their IT knowhow. Whether an enterprise does its own in-house IT development or uses external providers, a basic understanding of new technology and its potential to help business is a minimum. So is a review of any current in-house focus on obsolescent skills in technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash, Lotus Notes and even PC repairs. Good business continuity practice dictates that companies pay as much attention to their IT competences as to the technology itself, and that they upgrade as appropriate to stay aligned with business needs.