How data power and speed can take your business into the future Featured

9:01pm EDT July 31, 2011
How data power and speed can take your business into the future

Technology moves fast, and advances in information technologies, along with changes in work force behaviors, are driving the need for faster, higher-bandwidth data solutions.

Businesses that want to stay ahead of the pack need tailored, fast data solutions.

“It’s critical for businesses today to map their current and future data needs and to partner with a data provider that can offer customized access solutions,” says Jitesh Bhayani, vice president of marketing for the Midwest Region, Time Warner Cable Business Class.

As data-intensive activities such as online collaboration, video viewing and Web conferencing grow more prominent, businesses need the bandwidth to support these functions. Clients, vendors and colleagues expect to communicate with businesses online, and your systems need to have the speed to make it happen.

Smart Business spoke with Bhayani about innovations in data and bandwidth and what opportunities are available for businesses.

What data trends are driving the need for more bandwidth?

Forecasts show that business Internet traffic will double between 2009 and 2014, and in 2010, Internet traffic demand among businesses in North America grew by 17.2 percent. The way employees work today in a Web-connected world is driving this demand.

There’s an emphasis on continued collaboration and companies are interacting online with customers through platforms such as e-commerce. Work environments are highly dependent on being connected to the Internet — a Forrester Research survey revealed that 72 percent of employees use a Web browser hourly or daily. Over time, a business can easily exceed its available bandwidth, and the answer is a higher-speed data solution.

What technologies give businesses greater capability to collaborate online?

Internet-based technology and software have advanced so that businesses can collaborate more readily with satellite offices, vendors, partners and customers. The days of passing paper are over as the ease and speed of sharing documents electronically increases and businesses recognize the cost effectiveness and environmental friendliness of using Internet-based tools for collaboration.

For example, with Web conferencing, employees do not have wasted travel expenses and unproductive time spent en route to a meeting location. Web conferencing is an alternative to in-person meetings, and it’s an ideal tool for conducting product demonstrations or service calls with customers.

Meanwhile, cloud computing with the use of Web-based business software frees up employees to work anywhere, anytime and still be connected to the office. These tools are often called Software-As-a-Service (SaaS), and include e-mail, calendar, project management and accounting systems. Basically, a business rents the amount of the application it needs and accesses it through an Internet connection. As more businesses use cloud computing, these firms will require higher-speed solutions and more bandwidth.

How does social media impact a business’s need for higher-speed solutions?

With the rapid growth of social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, businesses have new opportunities to reach more people and respond to customers more effectively. They can share their corporate environment through blogs. They can use social networks to connect with potential clients, build relationships with peers, vendors or prospects, and get the word out about their products and services.

Looking ahead, social media will integrate even more software applications and advanced Web services, which will put more of a strain on existing data solutions. Businesses need to assess whether they will have enough speed and bandwidth to accommodate emerging technology. Now is a good time to consult with a data solutions provider and take an inventory of what your business’s current data capabilities will allow. Do you have room to grow? What are your plans for technology integration? Discuss your current and future needs with a provider that can act as a partner and customize a solution.

How can a business customize data services and add bandwidth?

The amount of bandwidth you need will depend on the number of employees in your company and the Web-based applications you use. Take stock of your current business situation. What high-speed data challenges do you face as you prepare for the future? What are your current bandwidth levels? A data solutions professional can help you understand what tier of power and speed you will need for optimal business performance.

What options are available for power and speed?

There are several tiers of power and speed, so first consider what your businesses needs on a day-to-day basis. Then think about goals for the future. Will you do more cloud computing with Web-based software programs for accounting or project management? Are you ramping up your video conferencing to avoid windshield time? Will more employees work outside of the office from satellite locations or home offices?

For businesses that use e-mail and basic Web applications, broadband Internet access can provide ample bandwidth and speed. Businesses that do more data sharing and use Web-based applications and require advanced connectivity are better served by wideband Internet access. For businesses that need a dedicated, scalable solution to meet growth and security requirements, there is dedicated Internet access. Start by talking with a solutions provider who can explain how each of these options works, and help you understand what level of power and speed you need to accomplish your business goals today and in the future.

Jitesh Bhayani is vice president of marketing for the Midwest Region of Time Warner Cable Business Class. Contact a Time Warner Cable Business Class account consultant at (877) 407-4260 to discuss your communications needs.