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How often should you upgrade your company’s IT equipment?

In almost all business sectors, effective efficient IT equipment is noware key to running a successful company. So, companies in every industry need to address the issue of continuously upgrading their IT equipment. At what point and how should it be upgraded?

With leasing, your company enjoys the flexibility that purchasing does not offer
With leasing, your company enjoys the flexibility that purchasing does not offer

In almost all business sectors, efficient IT equipment are key to running a successful company. So, companies in every industry need to address the issue of continuously upgrading their IT equipment. At what point and how should it be upgraded?

We ask Philippe Jouglard, Head of Strategic Analysis and Projects in the Technology Solutions Business Unit at BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, and Natacha Desgranges, Head of Offer Development at BNP Paribas Rental Solutions Technology (contract hire and fleet management).

Should companies wait until their IT equipment breaks down to replace it? If not, at what point should it be replaced?

Philippe Jouglard: For companies these days, waiting until their IT equipment breaks down to replace it is absolutely unthinkable. That was how IT equipment was dealt with 20 years ago. These days, the recommended policy is to put together batches of equipment and set usage time frames for each batch. These time frames will vary according to the type of equipment: for example, 4-5 years for a server or storage system, 3-5 years for a workstation.

Natacha Desgranges: It’s also a good idea to use the manufacturer’s guarantee as a guide, in order to keep maintenance costs low. Don’t overlook IT upgrades that are necessary to improve security. New IT technologies include more and more security features.

If you want to upgrade IT equipment regularly, is it better to purchase it or RENT it?

Natacha Desgranges: The important thing about renting is its ability to meet your changing needs. With renting, your company has the flexibility that purchasing does not offer. Once you have made a big investment to purchase equipment, it’s not easy to reverse that decision. Renting, on the other hand, gives you a margin of error. In addition, if your usage patterns change quickly for some or all of your IT assets, renting can allow you to re-allocate your resources accordingly.

Philippe Jouglard: Renting can be seen as a company’s comprehensive insurance cover covering its IT assets. Predicting a company’s needs over the next 3 or 5 years is becoming increasingly difficult. Circumstances and market demand can both change unexpectedly: the market conditions in which your business operates could change, the demand for the equipment might evolve, you may decide to sell off parts of your business, etc. Renting allows you to deal with these changes, to upgrade your IT system at any point, to satisfy your company’s needs.

What if your company doesn’t use very sophisticated software? Should you still upgrade your IT equipment?

Philippe Jouglard: We no longer live in a world where a company uses its IT equipment for word processing alone. Let’s take the example of a car mechanic. He needs to use software supplied by car makers and their wholesalers, and also use the Internet to search for and order spare parts, etc. Therefore, he must have an up-to-date, secure computer with a reliable Internet connection.

Natacha Desgranges: We’re seeing that companies are increasingly going paperless, digitizing billing processes, customer databases, or customer and supplier relations. IT equipment is becoming part of the communications strategy. And everyone is affected by it. Furthermore, something that used to dissuade companies from upgrading computers was the laborious task of transferring data from one computer to another. These days we have roll-out methods that make it possible to prepare everything in advance, something known as zero touch.

Is it a good idea to have a professional audit carried out to determine whether or not to replace your equipment?

Philippe Jouglard: A lot of companies do so. Technology is much more diverse and varied than it was before. So, although companies are increasingly aware of the issues, they do seek guidance.

Natacha Desgranges: It’s worth pointing out that earlier, companies would have an audit carried out every 3-4 years or when upgrading. Nowadays, audits are becoming increasingly flexible, more limited to certain areas that need to be updated, and are more focused on specifics.

Do changing regulations sometimes mean that companies must replace their IT equipment?

Philippe Jouglard: Regulatory pressure is much less significant for IT equipment than for lighting or refrigeration equipment, for example. Nonetheless, there can be indirect pressure, for example in France, the obligation for public sector organizations to issue paperless invoices via the Chorus portal. More directly: GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation), which is an example of changing regulations, means that software must be updated. This will also make changes to servers and workstations necessary.

Are there other kinds of pressure which can make companies upgrade their IT equipment?

Philippe Jouglard: Aside from regulatory pressure, there is what might be called sociological pressure. The younger generations have a usage-based mindset. The principle is as follows: I’m using the right piece of equipment, which I need, at a given time. This generation is now beginning to run companies and applying this same logic in a business context.  So, companies are confronted with workers who cannot bear to use outdated devices.

Natacha Desgranges: That’s a key point for all large companies these days. To acquire and retain talent, it’s really important to give them tools that suit their needs.

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