Future. In business, that one word is what it’s all about. But to get there, you need to build the right strategies and execute them – and that requires the right investments in everything from staff and inventory, to partners and enabling information and communications technology (ICT).
It’s hardly a new requirement. Communications has been fundamental to successful business for centuries, although it was with the spread of global voice and data networks over the last five decades that communications truly became a force for transformation.
Australia’s modern telecommunications industry began taking shape in 1975, when the Australian Telecommunications Commission (which was known as Telecom Australia and later became Telstra) was separated from the Postmaster-General’s Department (now known as Australia Post).
Businesses voraciously adopted new capabilities like long-distance phone calls and data transmission enabled decision making at previously unthinkable speeds. Businesses could co-ordinate their activities from different parts of Australia and the world, operations could be managed and monitored across remote distances, and customers could be sourced and supported from further afield than ever.
Step changes drove the maturity of Australian telecommunications
Subsequent years saw even greater transformation as the delivery of mobile communications drove the industry to completely reorganise itself – and provided dramatic new benefits for Australian businesses.
Telecom Australia’s introduction of in-car telephones in 1981, and then of handheld analogue mobiles in 1987, fuelled the country’s appetite for communications anywhere, any time. When this was subsequently expanded with the 1992 auction of GSM mobile radio frequency spectrum, digital mobiles promised to carry data as well as voice.
As the Internet exploded during the 1990s, the benefits of mobility rapidly converged with the promise of the rich, data-based mobile experiences that we take for granted today. By the time the industry was formally deregulated in 1997, the pieces were in place for a remarkable communications revolution that has fundamentally changed the business world as we know it.
The regulatory and technological groundwork laid during the 1990s oversaw rapid growth in fixed and mobile data usage, with now- ubiquitous Internet access significantly improving Australians’ access to general information, recreational and business applications.
Repositioning telecommunications within the independent Telecom Australia birthed the model of a highly integrated communications operator – and, 22 years after that, industry deregulation restructured the market to enable crucial competition in telecommunications products and services.
Deregulation was key in forming an environment conducive to encouraging investment in new services and bringing down prices across the board. One 1997 overview of Asia-Pacific broadband policies noted that at that point, Japanese businesses were paying US$1300 per month for a 64Kbps wide area network (WAN) connection linking Tokyo and Osaka. A similar circuit between Wellington and Auckland would cost around US$1550 per month, while 64Kbps undersea links to the United States cost around $US9800 a month.
Deregulation helped slash these prices as new operators laid down infrastructure and wooed business customers with highly competitive pricing. The number of licensed carriers grew to 14 by the end of 1997, 25 by the end of 1998, 65 by the end of 2000 and around 250 by the time the nbn™ broadband access network was announced in April 2009.
Today, after 22 years of deregulation and a decade of the nbn™ rollout, Australia’s communications market is much different. There are hundreds of telecommunications service providers, with over 150 retail service providers (RSPs) selling nbn™ wholesale services alone
This growth, Ovum recently noted in a report commissioned by nbn, is driving many businesses to increase their spending on fixed-line and wireless communications – reflecting a greater reliance on digital business capabilities.
By the time the network is complete, which is expected to be in 2020, more than 10 million premises will have access to a range services that may help to meet their requirements.
For businesses, fast broadband and prioritised data options at the network level offer new opportunities to tap into a growing array of services through their preferred RSP, providing access to a world of options from core business services to worker collaboration and data-security capabilities.
The business nbn™ future
The nbn™ rollout has laid the groundwork for yet another revolution in business communications. That revolution is all about providing the choice and flexibility to help businesses dream their future – and achieve it.
Australian businesses are world leaders in the pursuit of digital transformation, with a recent IDC survey noting that 89 percent of Australian CEOs are being pressured to execute a successful digital transformation strategy.
This transformation will drive major changes such as new data management or monetisation functions. By 2020, IDC predicts, at least half of Australian organisations will be “digitally determined” entities that are “transforming markets and reimagining the future through new business models and digitally enabled products and services”.
Those digitally enabled businesses are only viable with universal, reliable connectivity. And by providing ubiquitous access to fast broadband services, nbn™ is already helping more than 500,000 businesses to operate quickly, efficiently and effectively. With the launch of dedicated business nbn™ service offerings, those businesses now have access to great capabilities
Whether by helping to improve communications between branch offices and across supply chains, or by supporting digital transformation and new ways of working through the use of cloud services, these services have continued to empower businesses to chase the future they dream of, unencumbered by the legacy of the past.
A recent IDC forecast projected that Australian companies’ investment in IT services will grow at a healthy clip to be worth $23.4 billion by 2023. Managed services will remain the biggest part of this expenditure, but growth will be led by an increase in organisations investing in project-oriented services as they try to create competitive advantages.
These advantages will, IDC predicts, eventuate as businesses deploy cloud, mobility, big data and social platforms – as well as introducing ‘innovation accelerator’ technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and other technologies.
The high quality, access to wholesale committed information rates and low latency of business nbn™ wholesale solutions features makes them particularly well suited as enablers for this next generation of business technologies.
Backed by the option of enhanced service level agreements (eSLAs) between nbn and service providers to help ensure fast recovery after interruptions, business nbn™’s range of wholesale products will support even the most ambitious transformation agenda The network will help service providers deliver business-critical managed services, providing a level of flexibility that will help Australia’s businesses realise their objectives.
Massive structural change defined the two most recent cycles of Australian telecommunications– first by helping Australian businesses integrate global calling and data connectivity, and then by creating a deregulated telecommunications market that fosters value-adding for business innovation.
By planning now and investing soon, organisations that take advantage of the choice and flexibility provided by business nbn™ will help gain a competitive advantage that will put you in the driver’s seat. In this way, you’ll be able to imagine the future you want for your business – and help turn it into the future you will have.
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