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The Business Risks Behind Slow-Running Tech

Anna Johannson, Writer
| Posted at 3:04 PM by ISACA News | Category: Risk Management | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

Anna JohannsonEntrepreneurs and IT leaders frequently underestimate the true power that slow technology has to negatively impact a business. It’s tempting to wait as long as possible to upgrade or replace your team’s devices; after all, every additional month you get out of a device results in measurable cost savings for the business. But all those slow, aging devices are probably interfering with your business more than you realize.

The roots of slow technology
Slow technology comes in many forms, but always has the same characteristics in common. Processing becomes slower, making it harder for employees to complete their tasks in a timely manner, and occasionally stalls productivity altogether (like when those devices crash).

Generally speaking, there are three main influencing factors that can negatively impact a device’s speed:

  • Age. First and most notably, devices tend to slow down as they get older. Their processors don’t work as efficiently, and disk fragmentation can interfere with how the device functions. On top of that, new programs tend to be designed for faster, more up-to-date machines, which means older computers can’t run them as intended—resulting in a kind of illusionary slowdown.
  • Malware. A sudden or inexplicable slowdown may be the result of malware infecting the device. In some cases, this is an easy problem to fix; a quick cleanup can instantly restore the device to full working order. In other cases, more intensive troubleshooting may be required, or the device might need to be wiped clean.
  • Improper use. Machines can also suffer tremendous slowdown if they aren’t being used responsibly. For example, if an employee spends lots of time downloading files, but never deletes those files, or if they have tons of installed programs that they never use, the computer won’t work as efficiently as it could. Employees may also misreport slow devices; if they have 39 tabs open in a web browser and one of them won’t load as quickly as they would like, the problem probably isn’t with the device itself.

The effects of slow tech
As for how that speed affects productivity, there are several areas of impact to consider:

  • Actions and tasks per day (or per hour). This is the most impactful effect, and the most obvious one. If employees face even a slight delay when attempting to interact with in-app elements, or when performing their most basic tasks, those small pieces of interference can quickly add up to compromise many hours of productivity. Depending on the severity of the problem, a slow device can cost you upwards of an hour per day, per employee.
  • Availability of new programs. Dealing with a slow device can also affect which types of programs an employee is able to run. If they feel their device is old, they may be less willing to update their existing programs (which ultimately yields a security risk). They may also intentionally avoid downloading and using new programs that would otherwise facilitate greater productivity, or new responsibilities.
  • Employee morale. Of course, being forced to tolerate a slow device can also result in decreased employee morale. Over time, your employees will grow more frustrated, aware that they aren’t working to their full potential, and that frustration will result in many hours of lost work (not to mention higher absenteeism).

Fixing the problem
So, what can you do to fix the problem?

  • Clean up any malware. First, investigate any slow devices to see what the real root of the problem is. If there are any instances of malware, make sure to remove them, and test the device again. While you’re at it, make sure your proactive defenses (such as firewalls and antivirus software) are working effectively.
  • Instruct employees on proper use. Host a seminar or send out a memo that instructs employees how to properly care for their devices, especially if they’re allowed to take those devices home as if they were personal belongings. Give them tips for how to keep their devices functioning optimally, and how to temporarily boost speed for intensive applications.
  • Invest in new upgrades. If you’re still dealing with old tech, make an effort to upgrade it. Sometimes, you can get by with a RAM upgrade. Other times, you may need to replace the device entirely. But remember—this is a long-term investment in your team’s productivity.

Correcting, upgrading, or replacing your slow technology can be both costly and time-consuming, but it’s almost always worth the effort. Not only will your team be able to utilize more resources and work faster, they’ll be happier—and that morale will almost certainly have a positive impact on your business’s profitability. Stay proactive, and take action on slow devices before they have a chance to interfere with your work.

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