New Zealand business owners should not let themselves be seduced or frightened into adopting the latest in information technology advances which, due to the speed of progress, can sometimes do more harm than good.
A good example of scare mongering by some IT experts are warnings that Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP in 2014 when, in reality, such a move is unlikely to have very much immediate effect.
Chief Executive of New Zealand IT consulting and software development company Designertech, Ray Delany, says today there is a misguided perception in business and the IT community that the ‘latest version’ of software, devices and other solutions is something everybody must have.
“It is in the interests of marketers to keep updating and releasing new product because they are in a competitive market and it’s good for profits, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to better functionality or better business," he says.
“Even when businesses do not want to change, they can be scared into doing it. However, if a solution is stable, working just fine and meets their needs, there should be little need to change – depending on the particular circumstances, of course.”
Delany believes Windows XP is a classic example because it’s not like computers will suddenly stop working when Microsoft stop supporting the software.
“Your machine and the software will carry on much the same as they always have. In fact, it is a piece of software that is well tested, well used and efficient for its purpose.”
Delany adds that very often people will load the latest releases only to find that their computers or devices are not configured to run the software.
“While everything appears to be fine on the surface, you may start to notice little glitches begin to emerge or the hardware stops working completely," he says. "That’s because the device was not designed for that software.”
One example is that problems, such as loss of WiFi and loss of speed, have been reported with some Apple iPhone4s after they were loaded with the latest iOS 7.0.4. software update.
“It’s a classic example of a device that won’t not run the new software update, but it wasn’t designed for that purpose so unexpected glitches may crop up.”
Delany claims that issues confronting businesses that are too quick to move with the times include:
· Lost productivity spent on learning how to operate the new device, software or cloud solution
· Costs incurred buying, configuring and supporting the new solution when the old one was perfectly fit for purpose
· Less business from clients who may become alienated by sudden changes or inefficiencies in the way things have always been done for them
· Security vulnerabilities, particularly with the proliferation of apps on personal devices and also unresolved bugs and teething problems that accompany all new software
· Frustration and lost opportunities when the inevitable teething problems or failures occur
“If a company has a perfectly adequate information technology set-up, they should do their due diligence before leaping into new solutions or allowing themselves to be frightened by scaremongering," he adds.
“Understand what your needs and priorities are – be sure of what you want the technology to achieve, take expert advice and only then make a rational decision about what is fit for purpose according to your budget.
“Plan ahead. Don’t just download.”