Article by Caroline Hong, which appeared in the September 2012 issue of the My Business magazine and also on MSME news network.
The Cloud + NBN Forum: What are they telling SMEs?
“THERE ARE STILL UNANSWERED QUESTIONS; IT’S NOT A ONE SIZE FITS ALL SOLUTION.”
I attended the Cloud + NBN Forum in Sydney recently to hear Senator Steven Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, address a room of 250 government and industry players. The event was hosted by the Australian Government Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) to showcase the benefits of cloud computing combined with the NBN.
I think many Australians feel confused when they hear the constant debate surrounding the NBN project and its rollout plan. The Federal Government’s $36 billion NBN project is planned to roll out high speed fibre optic broadband cable to 93 per cent of premises across Australia by 2021. The Coalition says that their alternative NBN would be delivered several years quicker, delivering slower broadband yet priced cheaper, at $16.7 billion.
Cloud is talked about as the IT solution for SMEs – we’re told it’s cool and it allows SMEs to be flexible without huge costs for servers and IT infrastructure. One of the expert presenters at the forum, Cisco CTO Kevin Bloch, says if you’re an SME and your business does not embrace cloud technology and services, your business will “die”. Telstra COO Brendon Riley told us that they have 13,000 customers already using cloud computing, more than 90 per cent of which are SMEs. Riley discussed how SMEs can benefit from cloud computing and their new methods of accessing software, applications, communications, video and web conferencing services, thereby helping SMEs harness endless possibilities.
Nick Abrahams, Partner and APAC Technology Leader at Norton Rose talked about the risk in the cloud and the risk out of the cloud and how a sound legal contract can help protect your biggest asset – your data. Chris Ridd, MD of Xero, talked about cloud as an enabler for small business owners, while Steph Hinds, owner of Growthwise, is definitely the new breed accountant and explained how cloud has transformed her from being the office-bound owner to the mobile office owner.
The afternoon at the Cloud + NBN Forum was spent with workshops and Q&A sessions. Questions covered included: What are the challenges and barriers of adoption to services, particularly for small businesses and the NFP sectors? What are the opportunities and challenges for each tier of government in moving to cloud-based services? How can we create better outcomes for consumers, particularly through improved access to health and disability services to be developed by the adoption of cloud-based services.
It’s safe to say that most of us agree that the cloud is a very good IT solution for SMEs. Is Cloud + NBN better? Certainly, but how cost-effective and efficient is the rollout plan? What about Cloud + Alternative NBN, as the Coalition is promoting? Which would you choose?
By 2021, the projected finish date for the NBN rollout, it could be too late for many SMEs, especially if they wish to compete with overseas markets already with an NBN. The digital revolution will not wait for Australia and we strongly encourage SMEs to move to cloud-based services. This requires support services from industry, corporates and government as much as possible to facilitate that transition for most SMEs. We would also want fast broadband internet services as soon as possible, not have to wait until possibly 2021, if you’re the unlucky last in the sequential NBN rollout plan.
I believe both government and the Coalition agree that the NBN is an enabler for SMEs. The Cloud and NBN are both enablers to help SMEs seize many business opportunities, save costs in servers and IT infrastructure, expand into global markets and to be competitive internationally.So the questions are, what, when and how? What must SMEs do to prepare for the digital revolution? When are they ready to move to Cloud + NBN? How are they learning and making the transition?
Our questions for government and the Coalition are the same – what, when and how? What is the projected revised costs of the NBN rollout plan? When will the NBN project really be finished? Isn’t 2021, or later, a little too late for many SMEs, if they want to expand and compete globally? How is the NBN project being efficient and cost-effective compared to the Coalition’s alternative NBN with a mix of technologies?
There are still unanswered questions; it’s not a one size fits all solution and the debate will continue.
With acknowledgement and thanks to MyBusiness http://mybusiness.com.au You can also subscribe for the digital edition on http://mybusiness.realviewdigital.com/
My Business is the official publication of the SME Association of Australia http://www.smeaustralia.asn.au
Contact Caroline Hong: email@example.com
Contact Caroline Hong, CEO of SMEAA: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +61 410474898