In an increasingly digital world, the bond your business has with technology is all-important. IT has a vital role to play in most 21st century companies, whether this is in terms of product and service design and delivery, sales and marketing, management and administration, or operational support. As such, it is vital that businesses invest in this relationship, and ensure it is kept healthy.
IT adds significant value to many companies, by automating tasks which previously would have been completed manually. This helps save both time and money, and helps to ensure delivery of a quality end-product. But business leaders need to know when to spruce things up - when their current relationship is no longer working. Unless they are prepared to keep investing - to refresh their technology function - companies will find it increasingly difficult to reap the rewards.
Business leaders have to decide when it is time to 'break up' with certain solutions - even those which have proved very successful over the years. This can be a tough decision when processes and systems have been designed around their use. But continuing to use older IT when newer, more powerful and more efficient alternatives are available means companies are missing out on extra functionality and added value.
Ending your relationship with Windows XP
Windows XP has been a warhorse of an operating system - one which has served millions of businesses and other end-users well over the years. But at over 12 years old, XP is a tired, old OS, one that is ill-equipped to meet businesses' needs in 2014. Today, it is all about the cloud, virtual desktops, mobile applications and touchscreens - and XP just isn't up to the job.
Yet many businesses continue to use the operating system, as they have done for the last decade or so. Why is this the case? There may be multiple reasons. It could be that IT funds have been spent elsewhere on other projects, and an OS upgrade has not been seen as a priority. Some business leaders may be worried about the effect of a system change on daily operations, or on how employees use IT. And some may stick with XP out of inertia - even a sense of loyalty - knowing how beneficial the relationship has been over the years.
But a quick comparison of Windows XP and Windows 8.1 makes it clear that companies are missing out by failing to upgrade. The latest Microsoft OS is fast, intuitive, secure, easily customisable, and designed for use with touchscreen devices and the multitude of apps that are available today to help businesses. Users can access their own personal Windows 8.1 settings - plus their files, documents, data and bookmarks - on any connected device, simply by signing in to a Microsoft account.
Windows XP may have been a loyal companion, but there comes a point in many relationships where one party starts to hold the other back. In a fast-growing economy, ripe with opportunities for business growth, companies need to make the most of their IT function. Lean, streamlined businesses, with funds for investment, can easily claim market share in the current environment, but they cannot be weighed down with excess baggage.
End of life for XP: Making the decision easier
Deciding to upgrade from Windows XP can be a difficult decision for some business leaders, particularly those who are happy with the support provided by their OS. But Microsoft is making this decision easier by ending vendor support for XP on April 8th 2014. From this point onwards, the firm will provide no further updates for XP, meaning users will essentially be on their own.
Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are available as upgrade options for businesses, and with these OS offering a much wider array of features, Microsoft has taken the decision to retire XP. Businesses have the option of continuing their relationship with the OS if they choose, but doing so could expose them to a range of security risks, with no further assistance from the manufacturer.
The reality is, it is time for a change. The world of IT has moved on so much since 2001 - businesses now form part of a super-charged, super-connected digital landscape, with few physical or geographical boundaries. Businesses need an OS which allows them to capitalise on the cloud, on mobile technology and the vast array of productivity features online. Put simply, XP just doesn’t fit the bill - businesses need a new OS 'partner' that is fit for the world of today.
Find out more about the latest Microsoft OS - Windows 8.1 - by clicking here.
Posted by Alex Boardman