This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Christian Nascimento, VP, Product Management & Strategy, Comcast Business
The digital transformation of business has been ongoing for many years, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it became unavoidable for nearly every company, no matter the size or industry. As such, organizations are paying closer attention to their connectivity than ever — and it’s important that they do so strategically, in a way that suits their business.
Connectivity has always been foundational to (quite literally) connect everyone involved in a business, from employees to suppliers to customers. When COVID reduced — and in many cases eliminated — the ability to connect physically, there was even more importance for people to connect digitally. This is seen clearly in the rise of the distributed workforce, as many more businesses became fully remote or employed a hybrid model — a trend that will likely continue indefinitely. Video calls were already starting to replace phone calls and have now become even more important — and ubiquitous — to maintain “face time” not only with clients, but with coworkers as well. Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen businesses completely reimagine their business models to become more digital. For example, when gyms and fitness centers couldn’t open, they started streaming (or recording and uploading) workouts that people could watch and follow along with at home.
Like the changes in communication, this transformation was already underway before the pandemic, as businesses were doing far more uploading, downloading, and storing of all different types of digital data — now, that change has been accelerated in a way like no other. All these things require appropriate bandwidth, especially with the increased importance of latency and uptime as more services take place in the cloud. As such, bandwidth has become top of mind for many businesses.
However, it is important to remember that bandwidth is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s easy to purchase the fastest internet available to your business and call it a day — but in today’s environment, you must be strategic about your full connectivity approach. Simply put, it is crucial to have connectivity solutions customized for your business.
To get there, you can start by asking two questions. First, what is your business objective? You’re not buying an internet connection just to have it — you’re buying internet to help you accomplish a business goal, whether it is selling widgets or enabling salespeople to communicate with customers. Your business objective should inform every decision you make about your company, and connectivity is no exception.
The second question is, how are you planning on getting there? To answer this, you often need to answer a series of more specific questions. For example, are you going to have a distributed salesforce across the country, or 200 people in one building? What type of customer support resources need to be online? Are there any security measures that need to be in place? When you can answer these questions, you can then combine and tailor solutions to your needs.
The final consideration is to look for connectivity solutions that can scale with your future needs. Connectivity will not always follow a linear path based on business size — not all small businesses have the same needs, and not all enterprise businesses have the same needs — but odds are your business will change in some way as it grows. And that evolution will require an evolved connectivity solution.
A quick hypothetical scenario to illustrate this point: let’s say you start a business in your garage — you may only need a connection to the internet at this beginning stage. As you take on more employees and customers, you may need to expand to WiFi connectivity to connect many people. The bigger you get, the more mission critical activities arise, meaning you’ll likely need some type of backup solution, such as ethernet backed up by coax or LTE.
Finally, if you continue to grow into the mid-market segment or even enterprise, odds are you’ll need a product that can handle various idiosyncrasies, once again driven by your specific business needs. This is where you start to look at strategies like network connectivity between locations, ethernet dedicated internet (EDI) vs ethernet network service (ENS), layering applications such as Office 365, etc. Of course, many businesses will never reach a point of requiring such complexity, but generally every business will grow in some way, and being prepared for that growth will make scaling far easier.
This is admittedly a lot to think about, whether you are just starting a new business or reevaluating the connectivity of an existing business. But as the digital transformation continues, connectivity will only continue to shape the business landscape. The companies who focus on connectivity in a strategic, goal-oriented manner will set themselves up for success.
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Christian Nascimento is VP, Product Management & Strategy, Comcast Business
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