Managed IT

Top 5 Risks of Using Outdated Technology

Top 5 Risks of Using Outdated Technology

by Brad Ancell - April 30, 2024

The rotating hourglass. The spinning rainbow ball. The constant string of pop-up notifications begging for this update or that patch. You've been there before. At one point or another, we've all felt the frustration of using outdated legacy business systems.

Unfortunately, using outdated technology in business comes with more significant risks than frustration. Aging legacy systems are more vulnerable to cybersecurity risks, and the reputational damage and financial repercussions that can arise from these cybersecurity breaches can severely impact a business's bottom line. That’s why leveraging the latest in IT services is mission-critical.

From system downtime to increased costs, discover the top five risks that will make you re-think using outdated legacy technology.

1. Crashes and System Downtime

We live in a "now" culture. The people we interact with and the clients we serve don't just want on-demand, uninterrupted, and reliable access to data, files, and customer service — they expect it. If crashes and system downtime prevent organizations from receiving what they want and expect, many will not hesitate to take their business elsewhere. And, you can bet that a competitor is often waiting in the wings with the right, working technology to give them what they want and expect "now."

It’s also costly. Your bottom line takes a hit with each minute of downtime, and an estimated 82% of companies have experienced an unplanned downtime incident in the last three years. For some industries, downtime like this causes around $50 billion in damages each year.
What are the causes of unplanned downtime? It’s often linked to a variety of issues including:

  • Equipment failure 
  • Poor maintenance
  • Unoptimized systems 

The likelihood of these problems arising increases when old technology is in use. While it may have been a common event in the past, these days, a single downtime event can cause significant and long-lasting damage to a company. Newer technologies reduce the chances of downtime and can help if an incident occurs. AI, for example, can be used to sift through the vast amount of data needed to bring a system back up and running. 

2. Increased Costs

So, where is your money best spent — maintaining antiquated systems or driving new business value? Outdated technology can be expensive to maintain. It's not much different from maintaining an ancient home or vehicle, except that technology ages faster. 

If you moved to a notoriously dangerous neighborhood, removed the alarm system and locks, and left open doors and windows, wouldn't you expect to pay a high premium to keep your now-vulnerable home safe? Using old technology systems is no different and can be extremely costly.

And that's before you consider the cost of employee time spent fixing old tech and making it work rather than being productive and focusing on the real business tasks at hand. No one likes to feel like they don't have the right tools to succeed, so keeping antiquated technology in your business can also negatively impact employee satisfaction and morale. This can lead to some significant consequences like:

  • Low employee satisfaction and morale 
  • High turnover
  • Additional costs for recruitment, hiring, and training new staff

Plus, the majority of legacy business systems use more power than newer energy-efficient technology, creating unnecessary extra overhead costs for your business. 

3. Decreased Productivity

Outdated technology runs slower, takes longer to execute tasks, and requires much more time-consuming maintenance, patches, updates, and helpdesk calls than its newer counterparts. Moreover, it can drastically reduce a business's access to workflow improvements. Take automation, for example. According to studies, 55% of businesses rely on manual processes for planning decisions, even though advanced automation solutions exist — resulting in wasted resources and human capital. 

Decreased productivity can cost your business in terms of both revenue and ROI. You get a lot more out of productive employees than those who spend portions of their day just trying to reach their tools to work correctly. In fact, it’s estimated that employees spend 46 minutes of each working day trying to resolve issues with outdated software and hardware. 

A great option to minimize the risk associated with hardware updates is Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS), which some hardware and managed services providers can help with. This can include:

So, a major benefit of HaaS is paying a reasonable monthly fee instead of a significant upfront capital expenditure. Other popular HaaS benefits include the opportunity to upgrade much earlier, minimizing the risk of spending a lot on something that ages quickly, and the ability to scale as your needs grow and change.

4. Security Holes

Businesses that use outdated legacy technology increase their cybersecurity vulnerabilities. This is just a simple fact. While it can be laborious to update outdated technology, it’s not a matter of if a cybersecurity incident will take place, but when. Having the correct solutions in place is a matter of organizational survival. Here are some threats to consider:

  • Malware
  • Social engineering attacks
  • IoT attacks
  • Phishing

It’s also a matter of trust. Today’s consumers are hyper-aware of the risks cybersecurity presents, not only in terms of their own personal data but also who they can trust with their business. Ninety-two percent of consumers believe cybersecurity threats outpace advancements in preventative technology.

One way to stay ahead and remain in the good graces of clients and partners is to consistently update technology and stay up to date with the latest trends in cybersecurity. For example, a managed detection and response system (MDR) can safeguard an organization from the ever-expanding list of digital threats we touched on earlier. 

The threat landscape is constantly changing, and it’s no longer enough to play a passive role in shoring up internal and external security. Companies need to develop proactive cybersecurity systems to mitigate risks, leverage the latest technologies, and prioritize digital transformation strategies to keep and build customer trust.

5. Legal and Regulatory Compliance Risks

Using outdated technology exacerbates existing compliance risks that you may not even be aware of. Auditors can fine companies that fail to transition from unsupported software or legacy systems. Plus, outdated legacy systems can make businesses a prime target for cyber attacks and potential data breaches, which can have catastrophic reputational and financial consequences. 

Small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) can no longer assume that they are too small or unimportant for hackers and cyber thieves to target. Criminal enterprises consider many types of SMBs high reward targets that hold valuable personal identifying information (PII) about their clients. This can include:

  • Medical practices
  • Law offices
  • Engineering firms
  • Educational institutions 

SMBs also tend to be the most lax about updating their technology, dramatically increasing their vulnerability and attractiveness to cybercriminals. And tying incidents back to old tech is not a good enough excuse to skirt consequences. In the aviation industry, issues stemming from old technology and infrastructure caused a combination of events that disrupted air travel. An outage in 2022 led to the U.S. Department of Transportation to agree to a $140 million settlement against Southwest Airlines, plus $600 million paid to customers who experienced delays and cancellations. The hard truth is that outdated and legacy systems aren’t just a hindrance to productivity, but they’ll also be a risk in terms of compliance.

It's Time to Replace Your Outdated Technology Systems 

Organizations that strategically invest in replacing their outdated legacy systems can avoid the outlined risks and greatly improve productivity and security. Modernizing your outdated technology isn't just about avoiding risks, though; it's about unlocking a world of benefits. With the right systems in place, businesses can enhance security, boost productivity, and gain the flexibility to scale with the latest tools. 

If you’re ready to take advantage of cutting-edge technology, you can request an IT assessment and begin the process of creating a customized technology roadmap to help your organization succeed and grow.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 14, 2016, and has been updated for accuracy and current best practices.

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