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How nbn could boost your business

Jenna Hanson
Business and Technology Journalist

Jenna Hanson covers business news and technology for Smarter Business™

Jenna Hanson
Business and Technology Journalist

Jenna Hanson covers business news and technology for Smarter Business™

According to a new report, Australian businesses taking advantage of the nbn™ could boost the national economy by an estimated $4 billion per year.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a one-man band or a global enterprise – a faster internet connection can transform how you interact with suppliers and customers, opening up new opportunities worth a potential $4 billion increase in Australia’s economy.

A man working on a tablet in a rustic cafe.

Australian businesses taking advantage of the national broadband network (nbn™) could boost the national economy by an estimated $4 billion per year, predicts a study by researchers at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Energy Efficient Telecommunications (CEET).

The fast speeds, reliability and capacity offered by nbn™ will also lead to wider competition, meaning local businesses could no longer be complacent, the Economic Benefit of the National Broadband Network report’s author, Dr Leith Campbell, told AAP.

“If you’re the local coffee and sandwich shop, you think, ‘My competitors are the people next door’... but you see all the time that broadband is disruptive,” says Dr Campbell. “Businesses should take these services up and if they don’t they’ll be disrupted by people who do.”

Three particular broadband-based services will drive change across businesses over the next few years, say researchers: Cloud computing, e-commerce and teleworking. So how can your business make the most of these? We give a brief guide to each below.

How cloud computing can cut costs

Cloud computing – where data, apps, software and servers are accessed through the internet rather than being stored on a computer physically in your premises – is already levelling the playing field for businesses. Instead of spending thousands upgrading a server, for example, a business can simply buy more data space for that month (known as Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS) and access new software tools over the internet (called Software as a Service, or SaaS). For most enterprises, it’s this easy and affordable access to software that presents the greatest opportunity. 

Using Cloud-based services is an effective way to reduce software and other computing costs. Other bonuses are that it eliminates back-up worries and lets you access your files wherever you have an internet connection, rather than having to return to a central location to complete forms and update data.

Cloud services are also typically scalable, meaning you can easily increase your service during busier periods to cover what’s needed, without prohibitive IT costs.

Cloud functionality is becoming much more common, too: Apple uses the Cloud to sync files and apps; Microsoft has moved its Office suite and file storage to the cloud; and email platforms such as Gmail and Outlook use Cloud-based storage to allow users to access their files from multiple devices.

Storing your files in the Cloud instead of a local machine can assist you to protect your data, helping you not lose you work due to a hard drive failure, as the data sites used to host these services often have robust disaster recovery plans and back-ups in place.

Statistics show that Cloud services are already making an impact.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that from December 2014 to December 2015, the volume of data downloaded by fixed line broadband showed a 50.4 per cent increase, and by December 2035, a predicted 30 billion terabytes of data will be downloaded each year. 

E-commerce opens new markets

E-commerce is a fantastic way for small businesses to reach a larger market without requiring a large amount of capital. Your website can potentially reach a much wider clientele for a fraction of the cost of opening a bricks-and-mortar store on a high street.

According to the National Bank of Australia, online retail spending in Australia rose to $19.6 billion in the year to April 2016 – about 6.6 per cent of what was spent at physical retailers in the year up to March 2016. With online spending on the rise, retailers with an e-commerce presence are well poised to take advantage of the massive revenue stream.

Mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is also growing at an impressive rate, driven by the estimated 2 billion smartphone users worldwide. According to a report by Criteo, half of all purchases worldwide involve multiple devices, and purchases on mobiles accounted for 35 per cent of e-commerce transactions in Australia in 2015.

But businesses can’t be complacent about their e-commerce – Adobe’s State of Content 2015 report found that 39 per cent of people will stop using a website if images either won’t load or take too long to load. One Google report found that 91 per cent of people will leave a website if it doesn’t satisfy their needs – for example, to find information or navigate quickly – and 29 per cent of smartphone users will immediately go to another company’s mobile site or app instead.

Having a mobile-optimised website is becoming essential. Deloitte predicts that 50 per cent of all sales will involve some digital tools in five years, and that by adding just two customer communication channels, small and medium businesses in Australia could boost annual revenue by as much as $160,000.

Teleworking beats the 9-to-5 grind, and traffic jams!

More than ever, people are working when and where they want. New technologies and flexible work policies are allowing employees to work from home, remote offices or even the local coffee shop. These new collaboration tools and technologies also open up global opportunities, allowing collaboration from people in different places and even different time zones.

Remote working can benefit both the business and workers: workers could spend less time stuck in traffic , may be interrupted less; while a business could spend less on office space and has a much wider talent pool for new hires as they’re not tied to employees who live locally. 

In a 2013 report completed for Deloitte, up to 83 per cent of employees with access to flexible IT policies – such as working from home – felt satisfied at work compared to only 62 per cent of those without. ConnectSolutions’ 2015 Remote Collaborative Worker Survey found that 44 per cent of remote workers reported having a more positive attitude and 53 per cent reported reduced stress.

The challenge for businesses is making sure that remote workers are fully engaged, able to collaborate with other team members, give feedback and manage their schedules. nbn™ helps by providing a fast and reliable internet connection, making it easier to work remotely, especially if a project involves large amounts of data and files.

In ConnectSolutions’ survey, 42 per cent of remote workers felt they were just as connected with colleagues as if they were working on-site. As for productivity, 30 per cent of workers reported accomplishing more in less time, while 23 per cent were willing to work longer hours off-site than they normally would in the office in order to accomplish more.

The upshot is that teleworking can increase worker satisfaction and help them help deliver greater productivity, lower costs and better service for customers. 

What does nbn mean for your business?
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Things you need to know:

Telstra services on the nbn™ network are not available to all areas or customers. In areas serviced by nbn co Telstra may be required to connect services onto the nbn™ network. Once you are connected to the nbn™ network, you won’t be able to move to our copper network. nbn™, nbn co and other nbn™ logos and brands are trademarks of nbn co limited and used under licence. The spectrum device, ™ and ® are trademarks and are registered trademarks of Telstra Corporation Limited, ABN 33 051 775 556.

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