ARN quizzed Brisbane-based IT service providers on the main issues impacting business in 2016.
Following discussions with the local partner community, concerns range from the impact of the decline in the resource sector, to the rising threat of cybersecurity, to the ongoing roll out of the National Broadband Network.
Rick Brown - Managing Director, Surebridge IT
"With the downturn in the mining industry there is a continued re-focus by the multi nationals to turn to other commercial businesses, which is making it a very competitive services market.
"In addition, the government tightening their purse this has only fuelled the situation. Companies like SureBridge are continuing to focus on improving the level of service to our clients as well as seek out new technologies that can be added to give an even better advantage.
"Clients continue to seek the cheapest managed service providers and in many cases are just now starting to turn back to more reputable and correctly priced alternatives.
"As Cloud becomes more accepted by businesses, a hybrid environment with their own Cloud presence and access to third party public Clouds, are what clients seem to be asking for.
"Many clients need to be sure that the organisation offering Cloud services are not just pass through commission resellers but rather companies with both the smarts and internal know-how around both moving business into a Cloud world and being there to directly manage the data and applications."
Laurence Baynham - CEO, Data#3
"There will be some challenging economic and market factors in 2016. The global economic downturn and geopolitical instability will not directly impact Data#3, but will influence business confidence in the Australian market.
"The continued decline in the resource sector will see the need for a strategy which capitalises on growth sectors such as health and education, and can offset the slowdown.
"Government departments will be challenged with constrained spending, ‘Cloud first’ policies, and increased service delivery expectations, which will pose budgetary challenges. The technology sector however, will deliver new opportunities.
"The number of connected devices will continue to grow exponentially and this growth will bring increased risks.
"Companies will need to carefully plan and implement security solutions leveraging partnerships with trusted organisations, like Data#3."
Geoff Stewart - Technology Director, Surety IT
"There a couple big issues/challenges facing us this year. They have been around for the last few years but this year we will really see those issues come to the fore.
"The first challenge is around cybersecurity and how many businesses are not taking the threats seriously enough.
"The mindset still seems to be "it'll never happen to us" but time and again we have seen businesses come to us out of panic because they aren't adequately protected and have been impacted in some way, whether it be that they look after their own IT or have received poor advice from their IT partner.
"The second challenge/issue is still the number of IT companies who are designing/installing sub-standard IT systems for businesses. We come across this virtually on a daily basis with solutions that have been mis-sold and don't work as promised or have been designed poorly and have left the business exposed to serious risk.
"I have seen many cases where businesses have adopted “Cloud” solutions on advice from their IT partner only to find that the solution doesn’t work as promised and is actually worse than what they had before.
"IT providers should have a duty of care towards their customers and provide the solution for the benefit of the customer not for the benefit of themselves. The few bad ones seem to be tainting the many good ones."
Aaron Jervis - General Manager, Reef IT
"One of the biggest challenges we are facing at the moment, is the continued problems surrounding the roll out of the National Broadband Network (nbn).
"Some of the more common issues we are seeing include the shortfall of fibre to multi-tenant premises. For instance, you may have an office block with 10 tenants, and nine of those are serviceable for nbn, but the 10th tenant is not, as they were missed during the fibre cabling installation.
"Trying to get that 10th tenant an nbn connection can take months of to and fro between the back end provider, nbn co and the client.
"Lack of communication: With a wide variety of companies providing nbn installation services to a wide variety of tenancies, there can be issues with site access, faulty cabling, lack of appropriate roof access, body corporate restrictions, to name a few.
"Unfortunately, when faced with an issue during an installation, your standard nbn co installer will leave site without appropriately communicating what the issue was.
"This can lead to weeks of delay, whilst trying first find out what the issue was, then resolving said issue and trying to get the installer to attend site again to finish the job.
"Within in our client base, these delays have a number of times lead to situations where nbn connectivity has technically been available in the area long enough, that Telstra begins the disconnection of copper services, resulting in the client’s existing ADSL-based Internet connection and PSTN phone line services being cut off.
"Even though the client has not been able to activate an nbn connection, by no fault of their own. I believe the roll out of the National Broadband Network is a worthwhile, nigh essential upgrade to the country’s telecommunications infrastructure.
"But there is a lot of work to be done to make the process, of moving to the nbn, more reliable and straightforward."