Your computer network is only as good as the computers and software being run on it, so why then, do so many businesses place so little importance on updating the tools they use every day to get work done?
We find businesses and medical practices using outdated workstations and outdated software all the time. Most of the time when we go on a new job we anticipate it to be one where the operating system needs updated, the security software needs updated, and the computers themselves probably need updated.
These outdated tools do more than just slow down productivity, they also open the door to any hackers who might fancy the idea of stealing the identities of clients, and using that personal information stored on the businesses’ computer networks for their own personal gain. Turns out old operating systems and internet browsers are super easy to hack, so this is a glaring security hole that is inviting trouble to come on in and help themselves to valuable customer information.
That said, we have yet to see anything in a local business that compares to what happened at an airport in France a few weeks ago.
At Orly Airport, Paris, France, they rely on a system called DÉCOR to assist pilots and air traffic controllers manage airplane take offs and landings. Without this tool in place, air traffic controllers are unable to relay information to the pilots about things like runway visual range and other important data, which is a major problem for pilots trying to get a plane off the ground or safely back onto it.
So when the system shut down unexpectedly on a Saturday afternoon several weeks ago, all flights in and out of the airport were shut down until the issue could be tracked down. The airport was at a standstill for nearly an hour while technicians tracked down the issue causing the delays.
And find it they did.
After some investigating it was discovered that the network was running DÉCOR on an outdated computer. How outdated was this computer? This computer, which operated software air traffic controllers and pilots can’t do without, was running on Windows 3.1.
Yeah, that’s right. Windows 3.1.
For those of you who are familiar with Windows 3.1 you’ll know that it was released in 1992. There have been a lot of Windows upgrades since then.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was still a few years away from being developed and released when Windows 3.1 was the operating system of choice. This OS is ancient in computer terms. Given that Windows 3.1 was a DOS-based operating system, there are some modern developers who have no idea how to even use it.
Why would an airport continue to keep such important software running in such an old digital environment? There are two schools of thought on that. One is they were just going with the old adage of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The other reason the airport might have continued using the antiquated software was they were just too cheap to spring for the necessary upgrade.
Either way, it left the airport standing on dangerous ground.
If they didn’t fix it because it just wasn’t broken yet, then it would make sense for them to have a backup plan in place for the day when it does quit working, which is an inevitable conclusion when using machines and software written 25 years ago. They obviously didn’t because it took quite a while for operations to resume once it was halted.
If the reason for not updating was more about the airport just being cheap, then this plan backfired on them a bit because it completely disrupted the flow of traffic into and out of the airport. There is no doubt this cost the airport, airlines, and passengers valuable time and money when everything was at a standstill. It is almost a given that it cost the airport more than the few hundred bucks a month, or few thousand dollars to buy new material outright. Very few companies can weather a technology outage that shuts down all data access. Most just sit idle, losing money, while their comptuers and networks are down.
When it comes to technology the cheap route is almost always going to end up costing you more in the long run. For the airport, it would have cost a few thousand dollars at most to upgrade their equipment to something more modern and compatible with a modern computer network, but instead it cost them thousands more in burnt fuel, time, and compensation. No money was really saved.
The same is true when it comes to the don’t fix it if it ain’t broke approach to technology. This will get you by for a while, but ultimately it is going to break, and when it does, you’ll be left holding the broken components in your hand, wondering what to do next, while your business and employees sit around doing nothing while they wait for you to figure it out.
It takes a little effort to keep your office network running to its fullest potential, and making sure it is always there when you need it. Reliable technology is the backbone of any modern business. It’s darn near impossible to make money without using some kind of technology to do it or manage it.
This is why having an IT staff in house, or outsourcing your IT to a third party, is so important for most businesses. When it comes right down to it, your computer network is one of the most important tools you have, and it needs to be cared for on a regular basis, and kept up to date so it can speak the technical languages of modern business machines. Having an IT professional making sure the proactive steps are being made to ensure your network is reliable, is by far the best approach to technology.
Have your IT department help set up the computer network, mobile device connectivity, the wifi network, the software licensing, and even the company’s Acceptable Use Policy. Sure, it costs a few bucks now, but those few bucks now will help you avoid a complete and total disaster later.
It reminds of us of a joke that gets passed around in IT circles.
A man calls at technician to repair a broken machine in his office. The technician shows up, spends 15 minutes with the machine, turns one screw, and hands the man a bill for $500. Shocked the man said, “Hey, you were here 15 minutes, and turned one screw, how could this possibly be a $500 bill?” To which the technician replied, “Well, I charged about $1 for the screw turning, and $499 for knowing which screw needed turned.”
What does this illustrate?
The power of expertise.
There are experts out here for you to use to keep your network running properly, and we strongly suggest you use them.