Australia is a nation of growing businesses. This growth is being accelerated thanks to the rollout of the nbn® broadband access network. The nbn network provides a platform via retail providers for a range of advanced services, applications and technologies that are changing the way Australians do business. The transition to the nbn network represents a very significant opportunity for the ICT industry and will allow ICT partners to help business make the most of the opportunities that access to fast broadband enables.
How greater connectivity is fuelling Australia’s tech growth
The business channel has undergone an unprecedented evolution over the past two years but is now readying for its next phase of growth – significant growth. Indeed, a recent Gartner report (Gartner Market Databook, 2022 Update) found that Australia’s IT industry will have grown by 6 per cent by the end of FY22.
Due to the changing demands of customers over the Covid-19 pandemic, Australian ICT partners have re-evaluated long-held business models and repositioned themselves for an entirely new set of expectations, putting flexibility, agility and mobility at the heart of their strategies.
However, only with a robust networking ‘backbone’ underpinning them can these customers carry out their transformation ambitions.
Speaking to ARN, Logicalis Australia national sales manager, Lisa Fortey, and head of enterprise, Riia Jaakkola, said they are increasingly hearing about customers’ “inconsistent” networking capabilities, which impacts their sharing and data efforts.
“Clients that are using legacy WAN solutions or relying on tier one providers are often having issues with turnaround times for basic MACs, visibility and responses to incidents,” they said. “These issues we are seeing are typically a result of poor or obsolete network design but also due to staffing constraints. If we put ourselves in the shoes of IT and network managers, they are challenged to maintain security, compliance and network performance - under time, resource, cost and skills constraints.”
As a result, the duo said CIOs who are weighed down by expensive, legacy systems are struggling to be able to innovate at the speed they would and to deliver value to the business in a way that “moves the needle without increasing cost and risk”.
Meanwhile, for Simon Durkin, chief revenue officer of Interactive, customers are increasingly being forced to utilise multiple ISPs to deliver 100% per cent on-net network coverage with redundancy.
Also, one of the most obvious challenges we’re seeing in the market is around supply chain -- it’s not unusual for vendors to be pushing lead times out to six months,” he added.
His comments were shared by Michael Jenkins, CEO of Melbourne-based Rapid Internet. Indeed, Jenkins said: “Lead times and associated expense are still barriers for getting reliable services such as fibre connected.”
As well as supply chain issues. Brendan Donohoe, executive general manager of business sales at NBN Co also noted that customers and ICT partners are still being hampered by staff retention and talent acquisition for key specialist roles.
“Increases in staff salary required to attract talent while at the same time the potential for economic recession could mean that those salaries are not sustainable in the near future,” he noted. These challenges, alongside the supply chain disruption, have significantly impacted ICT partners’ cash flow over the last two years. However though, with every challenge comes opportunities.
Revolutionising the way to do business
For the past two years, many Australian businesses have been forced to turbo-drive ongoing digital transformation efforts in order to meet the demands of remote work.
Now, following the completion of the initial build of the nbn network*, greater connectivity and network diversity have risen to the top of the customer agenda.
According to Jenkins, the availability of high-bandwidth services which include enhanced service level agreements (eSLA) like business nbn® Enterprise Ethernet** has encouraged competition in the market and now a degree of that much-needed network diversity.
Now for the likes of Logicalis Australia, a robust and “most importantly secure” user experience is now driving client decision-making. According to Fortey and Jaakkola, this has created a huge networking opportunity to build a scalable SD Branch Solution that caters for short-midterm advancements in technology, for example when 5G becomes more broadly available.
“Standardising solutions is a common challenge - clients work with 15 vendors and it is hard to integrate them for ease of management and visibility,” they added. “Clients are now often willing to sacrifice ‘some’ functionality for maximum visibility and ease of use. New and emerging technologies are revolutionising the way organisations do business. CIOs are hungry to deploy game-changing solutions like artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, omnichannel apps, and wearables.”
Yet on top of this, according to Logicalis Australia director of services Naveen Shettar, customers also want to see cost savings alongside their greater connectivity. Indeed, he said, this is a “no brainer”.
“Great connectivity options from the market (for example, the range of business nbn wholesale solutions)** and augmenting SD-WAN solutions on top to achieve visibility and security [are among the biggest opportunities,” he said.
Most critically, improved connectivity is essential for Australian customers who have moved a significant amount of their workloads into the cloud and are now balancing hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
Indeed, at Interactive, this has become a key opportunity, said Durkin, as is “understanding the most optimum environment across hybrid cloud for workloads to sit, and efficient, associated connectivity to minimise latency across the LAN and WAN”.
According to Donohoe, incorporating and offering carriage in customer solutions is also a key priority, while ICT partners*** now have the chance to minimise bandwidth constraints. This, he said, should “open up a new world of application, cloud and security solutions”.
This, he added, extends far beyond the metropolitan hubs. Instead, he said: “Continued decentralisation of work and regional hubs see growing bandwidth requirements for new and existing businesses. As such there has never been a bigger opportunity in regional Australia.”
For ICT partners now, the opportunities to leverage the nbn network for better connectivity are available. But just how they truly capitalise on it depends on how the ICT partners themselves add value to their customers.
For Shettar, ICT partners need to understand what the customers objectives are across business as well as workforce.
“Start there and then work on how technology can achieve those objectives,” he said. “We can be in a better position by expanding our relationships with business stakeholders and taking a more industry-centred approach to discussion (versus technology-centred).”
For Donohoe, nbn ICT partners are in a position to remove previous roadblocks and limitations for large customers and “become more of a trusted adviser”.
In addition, they have the chance to become more of a whole of service provider for customers and drive carrier independence through a range of business nbn solutions, therefore giving customers choice.**
As Australia’s new financial year gets underway, there is one thing at the top of Jenkins’ mind for securing Rapid Internet and its customers.
And that is “transforming businesses to a work from anywhere model that allows them to take advantage of the benefits offered by nbn options and helps them futureproof themselves from any further pandemics as well as retain and attract staff,” he said.
For more information on business Enterprise Ethernet visit: https://www.nbnco.com.au/campaigns/business-fibre
To get in contact with the business nbn® ICT Channel team email: ICTMarketing@nbnco.com.au
* Please note that network construction will be an ongoing activity beyond the initial volume build for future new developments and a small proportion of premises defined as ‘complex connections’ – which includes properties that are difficult to access, culturally significant areas and heritage sites – where connection depends on factors outside of NBN Co’s control such as permission from traditional owners.
** business nbn Enterprise Ethernet is only available in the nbn Fixed Line network footprint and at limited premises served by the nbn™ Fixed Wireless and Satellite networks. Not all providers offer plans based on the full range of wholesale business nbn products, product features and services. Availability of wholesale business nbn products, product features and services depends on an end customer’s access technology and area. Ask your preferred provider if they offer plans based on these wholesale business nbn products, product features and services in your area.
***business nbn accredited advisers have undertaken a short course on the nbn network. nbn does not sponsor, endorse or guarantee any advice given or representations made (including any recommendations to purchase goods and services or purchase telecommunication services over the nbn network from a phone or internet service provider) and does not guarantee the accuracy of that advice or representation.