EXEC 10 TIPS : Preparing for ultra-fast broadband

Ultra-fast broadband has been receiving lot of attention in the media lately. But what does it actually mean for businesses? The government is aiming to connect 75 per cent of New Zealanders to ultra-fast broadband, using fibre optic cable, over the next ten years. This will have huge impact on the way businesses are run.

1 Understand what ultra-fast broadband is
Ultra-fast broadband is more than “fast internet” – just as smooth, well-designed roads are about more than driving fast. Ultra-fast broadband, like our roads, will enable entire industries that we haven’t thought of.

2 Define your business’ technology vision
To use the above analogy, well-designed, easy-to-access roading network is only useful if you use it to get somewhere that you need to go. Ask yourself what are your goals? And how will technology help you to achieve them?

3 Use technology in ways to help your customers
As people, we are becoming more discerning in the choices we make. We’re busy, we have places to go, tasks to juggle – we need our technology to keep up with us. When was the last time you took blank page and asked yourself, what does my customer really want, and how could technology help?

4 Understand your internal needs and behaviours
Ultra-fast broadband will change the way we engage with teams and the way we work – remote working, virtual meetings, connecting globally. Ask your staff what would make life easier for them. For example, if I could do ‘something’ then that would save me time, reduce costs for the business and make the customer happy.

5 Talk to your own technology partners
What defines company as technology partner is the fact that they understand your business and can help you become more efficient and effective. Talk to them and seek advice. Discuss your priorities, your concerns, your strengths, your weaknesses and your key opportunities.

6 Assess your business
Identify the technologies you’ve got, and what you need to compete in an ultra-fast broadband world. Some legacy technology may still work, but others may need upgrading. Do cost/benefit analysis of any additional technologies.

7 Look at how firms are using technology
Many businesses are already using technology to dramatically change the way they do business. One example is Air New Zealand. The traditional check-in model has been replaced by more seamless automated one. It’s less labour intensive for the staff and it’s quicker for the customer. What could you replicate or change slightly for your business?

8 Differentiate yourself
Ultra-fast broadband will make it easier for your business to go out to the international market, but also for international businesses to come into our market. Never before has there been greater need to differentiate your offering. What’s the most exciting way you’ve used technology to distinguish your brand in the market? Can you do better?

9 Expand your horizons
Use the power of connectivity to identify and target different markets – both for customers and for suppliers. Think differently. Challenge yourself. What marketing activity would you do if there were no limits to technology or cost? Start from that position. You might surprise yourself.

10 Keep your staff, customers and business partners informed
Technology – websites, social media, viral marketing for example – is great way to communicate and collaborate and keep everyone informed on the vision and progress of your company.

Thomas Evans is marketing director of Alcatel-Lucent.

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