When every capital expenditure is put under a microscope, it's harder than ever to continue to make the necessary investments in refreshing the technology our companies need to compete in the marketplace.
Many technologies, especially back-end devices such as storage, servers, routers, and switches, are viewed as a black hole of spending on commodity products and utility services. Besides, can't we just put everything in "the cloud" (that's what the airline magazine your CEO just read suggested).
I have established a three-year technology refresh cycle for both back-end infrastructure capabilities as well as front-end client devices such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. This was a hard-fought battle that was won over time and required much in the way of education and explanation of ROI. Here are a few ways to think about this that may help support your own case.
When I worked at Pfizer I had many a late night when the only person left in the building I saw while leaving was a maintenance worker who was changing light bulbs. I couldn't resist asking this gentleman why he was replacing not only the burnt-out bulbs but also replacing light bulbs that seemed to be working perfectly fine. His response to me was that the cost of the bulbs themselves was insignificant compared to the cost of the time required to service the fixtures to replace the bulbs. This was (no pun intended) a light-bulb moment for me.
Part of your rationale in replacing older and antiquated technologies is the fact that the cost of having your team fix older devices is higher than the cost of simply replacing them. I try to educate my decision makers that while the cost of a new laptop may be $1,000 (less in many cases) what is the cost of your chief revenue officer not being able to effectively work for a day because his laptop drops dead?
Also, it's imperative that we maintain familiarity with and access to the latest and greatest consumer devices. How bright an idea would it be for your customers to be accessing your websites and services via the latest iOS or Android device while the people trying to support them are working with flip phones? Many of the new capabilities and apps require a new platform or level of OS to run effectively. We can't have our customers having a different (and better) experience than the people trying to support them and develop and deliver mobile solutions to them.
Technology refresh is a cost of doing business. You would never allow your elevators to not be maintained on a regular basis because your most important asset, your people, use them every day to get to work. Technology is no different.