So the high-speed national broadband network (NBN) has just been connected in your area. How should your business take advantage of it?
In regional areas the NBN will bring not just faster speeds but more reliable internet connections. Some of the smartest steps don’t require very fast connections, just consistent access to the internet.
Here are five things that will make a big difference either by saving money on servers or increasing the speed at which staff operate or both.
1. Close down the post office
Owning an email server is a bit like running your own postal service. You are responsible for sending and receiving all your own email. If your email server crashes, your customers will get messages saying their emails have bounced.
Sign up to a cloud productivity suite such as Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 which cost as little as $5 per user per month. Microsoft or Google can send all your emails through their heavily protected, constantly monitored data centres.
One major upside – thanks to the tight security with cloud services, you will never receive a virus by email again.
2. Take the filing cabinet with you
Ever have to drive back to the office just to get a document from from your PC or your server? Or do you use an unreliable VPN to connect remotely?
Move all your documents, photos, videos and contracts to a cloud document management program such as Dropbox (better for sole traders and micro-businesses) or Box (SME and corporate users) starting from $100 a year for 100GB. These cloud programs will keep a copy of your files on your desktop or laptop and sync it with a copy in the cloud.
If your computer crashes or is stolen, just buy a new laptop, enter your password and your files will automatically download again.
3. End the DVD mail-out
Say you need to send a video, a collection of images or a stack of Excel tables or PowerPoint slideshows to a customer. Most businesses would burn the files to a DVD and throw it in the post. Turnaround in a day or three if it’s a Friday.
The NBN is not just for downloading files quickly. You can also upload them too. Try some file-sharing services such as YouSendIt, Copy, MailBigFile, to name a few. You can send the files directly from your computer often free of charge and save on postage, DVDs and time burning discs.
It’s a big boost to productivity. Plus your customers will receive their files faster.
4. Throw away your backup tapes
Do you rely on your receptionist to pop in a new backup tape before going home? Do you carry a backup drive in your briefcase?
A proper backup is difficult, expensive and a real hassle. Best practice says you should have at least three backups on two different media with at least one off-site. It’s little wonder that businesses do a terrible job at protecting their sensitive files.
Cloud backup services use high-speed internet connections to backup servers and desktops to an off-site, professionally managed data centre.
Backups can be programmed to begin at the end of the work day when the last person goes home. If a fire or flood destroys your office, your backups will remain out of harm’s way.
5. Hang up on phone bills
Copper wires were originally installed for making phone calls, but we also use them to connect to the internet. The NBN reverses this – the national network that connects to the internet can also carry phone calls.
Businesses no longer need to buy their own office call-switching equipment (called a PBX). Cloud-based PBXes give small businesses enterprise-grade features such as call hunting and auto attendant for a monthly per user cost.
National and local phone calls are usually included free; the business pays a monthly fee per handset and for the hosted PBX. Services include mVoice and Fonality with prices starting at $35 per month.
It’s not just savings on phone calls; you’re not paying a rental fee for each phone line as well.