How to Plan for Future Business Internet Needs
In 1999, business visionaries Bill Gates and Collins Hemingway penned their best selling book “Business @ the Speed of Thought.” They detailed the integration of business and technology and how a well-planned digital infrastructure can help companies gain a competitive advantage. Written more than 20 years ago, the book’s premises still hold true, perhaps today more than ever.
As challenging as it can be for a business and its IT department or consultants to gauge what their business internet needs are currently, it is equally challenging, if not more so, to anticipate what their future needs will be. Proper analysis of current conditions and solutions help provide insight into what future business internet needs will look like.
The digital transformation of businesses is an evolutionary process. Turning the clock back five years would reveal a different, less developed digital landscape than the one we have today. The demand for faster internet speeds and bandwidth is increasing, with no end in sight.
Forward-thinking businesses should plan ahead for their future internet speed requirements, with a particular focus on the next three to five years. If you’re a business owner or IT manager, here are the most important questions you should be asking include:
- What increases in current business processes, such as decreasing corporate travel and the increasing use of teleconferencing, are on the horizon that will impact our future bandwidth requirements?
- Will new technology being developed be available to help us meet these needs?
- How can we best plan for future bandwidth expectations?
- How will advancements in digital integration impact the speeds my business will require?
The Demand for Increased Bandwidth
Both internal and external factors should be considered when determining future bandwidth requirements. Forward progress continues to be made in the ways businesses communicate internally and with outside entities, such as clients and vendors. Serving internal and external customers as efficiently as possible continues to drive the ever-increasing need for greater bandwidth.
THERE ARE SEVERAL FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED
Increased Digital File Sharing and Collaboration
According to HR consultants at HR Dive, many businesses have forgone traditional office arrangements of private offices in lieu of being seated together as teams. Worker individuality is being phased out as companies emphasize collaboration and employees working together collectively. This collaboration not only results in increased communications on a personal level, but it has increased the amount of file sharing between team members.
Many companies are integrating video-based options into employee training programs rather than traditional in-person or face-to-face training. It is necessary in today’s business environment that training is delivered as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. As a result, many companies have instituted video training for employees in place of expansive and expensive training departments. Video-based training can be purchased at volume discounts and offers content that satisfies companies’ needs for its staff’s professional development.
In a work-from-home environment, video training has quickly become the norm. Elucidat has put it succinctly: “Digital learning is an opportunity to make personalized, relevant learning accessible to people when and where they need it. And, at this time, that ‘where’ is at home.
The use of video conferencing is growing exponentially. Virtual trade shows are now being conducted, relieving companies of needing expensive trade show booths, paying participant fees, absorbing employee travel and hotel expenses and more. Fortune Business Insights research indicates that the global video-conferencing market size will reach $10.92 billion by 2027, up from $5.32 billion in 2019.
Businesses have found that they can maintain existing client relationships and develop new business through the efficient use of video conferencing. The cost of a sales call by a company’s outside sales force has been drastically reduced. All of this has boosted profitability related to the sales and marketing efforts of companies.
Bring Your Own Device Workplaces
The combination of many IT departments struggling to keep up with rapidly changing technology and employees’ desire to use their own devices to access corporate networks and data has inspired many companies to incorporate a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workplace. Also dubbed “the consumerization of IT,” employees are encouraged to work on a personal device to access corporate email, work management software, view documents, reports and spreadsheets, share digital files, participate in team video conferences and more. With BYOD, businesses hope to increase productivity and reduce costs. While this can reduce hardware costs, increased bandwidth is a major factor.
With the rise of telework and remote work positions, companies have reduced the requirements of employees being physically present at a corporate location and have allowed them to work remotely much more frequently. Stanford research reported in June 2020 that 42 percent of the U.S. labor force was working from home full-time. This hasn’t lessened the bandwidth requirements for a business, but has spread it out over more remote employees and teams that must access company servers and files.
Internet of Things (IoT) Devices
In addition to consumer-owned IoT devices, such as smart TVs, smart speakers, home assistants, wearables, and smart appliances, businesses have increased data needs because of commercial IoT devices. These include smart air conditioning, smart thermostats, smart lighting and smart security systems. The increasing number of IoT devices results in an increased need for higher Internet bandwidth as data is collected and exchanged in a much more connected world.
Mobile App Development
The increasing number of mobile apps, whether for smartphones or tablets, has also paved the way for increased bandwidth needs. Whether it be at home or work, people are spending more time on feature-rich and function-heavy apps that require greater bandwidth.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Phone Systems
The introduction of VoIP phone systems several decades ago was a major driver in the need for increased business internet bandwidth. Traditional phone lines were replaced by bits and bytes—digital transmission lines—requiring enterprise accounts to re-think their data requirements.
The proliferation of VoIP has only served to increase the daily broadband needs of today’s businesses. Most calls require 64kbps of bandwidth, according to SIP Trunk.
The rise of available bandwidth and speed has fueled the increase in uploading activities in today’s business world. With increased file sharing and data storage capacities, employees can work more efficiently to upload growing amounts of digital content and video. The availability of uploaded material for use by remote workers and teams also continues to be a factor in the demand for greater bandwidth.
More Data Storage In The Cloud
Business utilizing the cloud for data storage has necessitated the need for increased network bandwidth. Whether it’s a slow-loading webpage, a dropped connection during a video call or sluggish functionality of work-based apps, an internet connection must have the available bandwidth to handle the constant exchange of data from cloud-based servers.
DEFINITIVE ADVANTAGES OF FIBER OPTIC INTERNET
When planning a new network or considering a future upgrade, one element needing careful consideration is whether to utilize fiber optic cables or copper cables. Fiber internet installations are outpacing copper by a significant margin, though not all businesses are near a fiber ring.
Few IT professionals would dispute that there are inherent advantages to utilizing fiber optic cable over copper cable.
One drawback of fiber optic cables is they may have a higher initial cost than copper; however, fiber’s durability and reliability can make the total cost of ownership significantly lower over time.
Finally, experts agree that fiber optic cables offer greater flexibility for the future. Media converters make it possible to incorporate fiber into existing networks, which will allow existing copper cable networks to gradually be upgraded as the business’ network grows.
- Greater bandwidth: Fiber optic cables provide more bandwidth to carry more data than copper cables of the same diameter.
- Faster speeds: In addition to being significantly faster than Cat5 or Cat6 copper cables, there is substantially less signal degradation with fiber.
- Longer distances: Fiber optic cables can carry signals much farther than copper cables, most of which experience signal degradation at distances greater than 328-feet.
- Better reliability: Fiber signals can withstand temperature changes, severe weather, and moisture, all of which can negatively impact the connectivity of copper cable.
- Thinner and sturdier: As well as being thinner, fiber can withstand greater amounts of pressure than copper and is less likely to sustain damage and fractures.
The Need For a Strong IT and Cybersecurity Strategy
The financial and health care sectors have been frequent targets of cyber attacks, and these attacks have been well documented in the media. But businesses outside of those sectors, both large and small, are also regularly targeted.
According to a University of Maryland study, hackers attack every 39 seconds, on average 2,244 times per day. Varonis reports that only 5% of companies’ folders are properly protected, on average.
Many organizations are not equipped to implement a strategy on their own to protect their network. If they have an IT department, the staff is often not trained in cybersecurity, and they aren’t able to keep up with the daily onslaught of new threats that are developed by hackers.
The need for an outside entity to protect networks and sensitive data has never been greater. In addition to cybersecurity, outsourced IT provides substantial cost savings by reducing the number of employees needed onsite, reducing the hours of those that are there, and eliminating the need to buy new software with every advancement.
It is anticipated that the pace of technological change will only continue to accelerate and cause the need for businesses to re-evaluate their business Internet needs consistently. New technology and new methods of conducting business make it incumbent upon businesses to do their due diligence as they contemplate their future technological and bandwidth requirements.