When I started out in business, in 1994, a computer was a standalone asset which was used to store data and prepare documents and the ‘cloud’ was something we looked at in the sky. The last 15 years though have been the most innovative and fast paced in relation to technological change. Suddenly this word has a whole new meaning as innovative developers and the integration of the internet has truly changed people, business and the future generation.
I am 100% sure that I will get old, I am 100% sure that taxes will continue to rise and I am 100% sure that the online revolution will get bigger and bigger - so act now. All SME business owners understand that they need the internet but many do not grasp the importance of the level of connectivity. In light I have listed below some basic examples of what your internet capability impacts on:
Effective workplace technology helps employees perform important work tasks as well as maintain good communication - Neil Kokemuller, Demand Media
Having a slow connection impacts on how quickly your staff can work when emailing or doing online work it also affects the efficiency of database work too should you use a cloud solution or terminal server.
Having a low upload speed impacts greatly on the updating of your website, marketing, uploading content or photos.
We are all looking to reduce cost and increase efficiency which is why Skype and Lync video meetings are now essential tools for businesses. They will not work efficiently if your internet capability is low.
All businesses use some form of solution like Sage, Act or Citrix to run their operation and the most cost effective way of buying this is through the cloud. In order to do this you must have an adequate level of internet capability.
The above examples are all set in a business to business environment, if you own a consumer focused business then your level of connectivity is more essential. Providing Wi Fi to a customer when shopping or having a coffee is now seen as a commodity and will sway the decision of whether that customer visits or not.
I believe a big part of ensuring you have adequate connectivity is to understand the choices available. I have listed below the 3 most common choices for an SME and what it is they provide:
This is the cheapest, normally around £40 per month and the most common form of internet provision. It delivers speeds of up to 20Mb down, which means you can download information quickly Upload speed is less than 1 Mb which means when you try and send photos, big emails, website amends or do a remote backup it’s horrendous The biggest threat with this provision is it normally has no Service Level Agreement which means in a nutshell if it goes down, you have no guarantee when it will come back up. That means no emails, online orders etc.
Fibre ADSL / Virgin Fibre
If you are lucky enough to be in an area that provides this you can download a speeds of 120Mb and upload at speeds of 40Mb. Again normally no Service Level Agreement is provided so this is a risk and it costs normally £40 per month.
Ethernet First Mile / Leased Line
This is the Rolls Royce of the internet world but it’s not cheap at normally £300 per month You can choose any speed you want and you get the same speed regardless of if you are uploading or downloading. This is really important for online companies, or companies that send big files and backup to cloud. The biggest selling point to this provision is the tight and reliable Service Level Agreement that is guaranteed. Prices do vary dependent upon what speed and the location of your business.
I would recommend a leased line to all companies who rely heavily on their online capabilities or who want to get serious about bringing themselves up to speed
In summary, I have always said if you listen to your business it will tell you what to do and that is very relevant in relation to your internet capability. If you personally complain about the download speed of a web page or hear you staff, or even worse, your customers moaning then you should be reviewing what you have in place. There are funding options for SME’s to “future proof” their businesses so look out for these government backed offers across the UK.