What type of opportunities does NBN present for business?
The early opportunities we’re seeing with our customers are managed services and we’re going to start to offer them our telco services as well. But one of the things they’re resisting at the moment is cloud computing. The reason for it is because of the reliability and speed of broadband. As something like the NBN gets rolled out into regional Australia, we’ll see more take-up in cloud computing technology. At the moment, we’re providing customers with whatever we can with the capabilities we’ve got. We’ve got technologies that are able to bring lower speed broadband together and couple it to bring one bigger speed line. But the NBN will eventually solve all those problems.
What are some of the challenges involved?
The interesting challenge is some of these locations want to be higher up on the priority list when it comes rolling the NBN out. Tasmania is first for all sorts of political reasons and it’s a self contained area, we’ve got a significant presence in Tasmania too.
How does reliability of speed and quality, effect the uptake of technologies like cloud computing and video conferencing?
When we finally get the NBN, businesses can really offer video conferencing properly. Even in Sydney, video conferencing really isn’t up to scratch. You need NBN type throughput to give the right level of experience, so you don’t have distorted images and sound. When I was Albury, Dubbo and Perth, it’s interesting when you go out to those locations and realise the things you take for granted. The broadband speeds we have in Sydney, you don’t get that in Dubbo. What we’re finding is that there is a lot of churn in small business, and as you churn some of those businesses you start to see CEOs are of Y and X generation type people, opposed to baby boomer’s, which aren’t really big users of technology. You can almost guess the age of someone when they send a fax. Whereas the new guys can do everything with their iPhone, even take payments. It’s all there on the phone. Some customers even want us to support their phones as part of the deal and want to do more on the phones. But they get stuck when they go to the telco and the plans they provide are either very high capped plans or too low and they fear getting hit with excess charges. Part of thing with our guys is to look at the most cost-effective plan for them, get their email configured properly, and ensure it has backup.
Should companies start making plans now on how they can take advantage of the NBN?
Yes. There’s a change in the business paradigm that a lot of people haven’t understood. Looking back to when I started Kaz, we moved into IT outsourcing before IBM did in Australia. People didn’t really understand it and said ‘nobody is going to take up outsourcing.’ But now all the big companies all outsource some part of their business. At the small end of town, those companies are still running their machines in their closets and back rooms, and you think what are they doing here? You need to understand how to change your business and you can’t change it overnight.
What are some of the problems with small business?
The biggest problem in small business is that most of them don’t have a CIO. Larger companies do have one and plan, implement and all that sort of thing. Small companies usually have a really good techie that can fix printer jams and play around with hardware or someone that likes writing every application from scratch. Are they able to give them the vision of how to change their processes? No they can’t. They need to look at how to evolve. When we talk to customers, we say let’s get you ready for that journey. Part of that readiness is managing their desktop. Even though the NBN is a long term plan by the Government to roll this out across the country, and there’s all these great things about consumers being able to download more movies and music, that is not where the game is. Businesses really need to understand what it NBN means to them and also what it means to them competitively internationally. One of the reasons why I think Government is doing this [NBN] is to make ourselves competitive internationally. We’re competing with countries like Korea, which have much more powerful broadband links than us. In the Asian corridor we need to increase our capability or otherwise we really can’t build business.