Key Challenges for Small Business: Small Business owners main focus is to keep their business going and growing. On a day to day basis, they are faced with many pressures, the most pressing concerns typically related to : Keeping their Cash flow balanced Finding, training and retaining good people Keeping up to date and on top of a seeming ever-growing set of regulations, compliance and reporting workloads And a bunch of other things just required to keep their business functioning at a basic operational level. Small Business owners understand that having the right technology including the right communication infrastructure, is not only important but is “Business Critical” to survive and successfully compete in an ever competitive, increasingly global marketplace. In addition to that, work is no more a function of a physical location –- i.e. “the office” – so mobilising those communications tools to have the information they need, wherever they or their staff are, in and out of the office is critical. Yet, whilst there is an general awareness that technology is rapidly evolving and there are a bunch of new services around that could potentially make step-change improvements to their businesses efficiency and competitiveness, the reality for most Small Business Owners is don’t have the time to explore and understand what’s out there, because there is too much other pressing and urgent stuff to contend with, and they simply don’t have the luxury of dedicated IT or Communications staff that larger enterprises enjoy. So consequentially, they make do with what they have for perhaps much longer than what they should do. They just don’t have the time or resources to give it further attention…
Charting the Technology Minefield: And when you look at the bombardment of changes, trends, considerations and “buzz words” surrounding technology .. Communications changes .. Email, instant messaging, should I use VoIP?, having a web presence, blogging New Business models – e-commerice, Web 2.0, New capabilities, mobile strategies, device management and support, hosted services or in-house ? Security Concerns – VPNs and firewalls, worms and viruses Buzzwords – unified communications, social networks, convergence, Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud Computing ... Etc .. Etc .. Then its no wonder they are not sure where to begin and its remains on a to-do-one-day (probably when it breaks) list For Small Business, any technology needs to be simple to use and operate, it needs to be reliable, it needs to provide clear value for money with understandable and stable pricing, and most of all - it needs to deliver a clear business benefit !! So our job -- the job of our industry and the job of everyone in the audience whom helps shape this broader technology landscape and operational marketplace – is to do just that. To take the complexity and mystery out of the technology, and bring it to Small Business in a form that delivers to what they need to continue to succeed and grow.
The mobility evolution underway … Whilst the physical “office” is far from dead, the volume and need for conducting work outside the office continues to grow. More than ever, work is an “activity you do” not a “location where you do it” And the investments and innovation in mobile technologies that has occurred has been a key catalyst in fuelling this acceleration. We see three “waves” to this mobility evolution, and today we are going to have a quick look at each, what they are and where they are at The first wave – which is well established for the vast majority of small businesses – is liberating voice communications out of the office The second wave – which is still fairly niche today but we believe is about to hit a groundswell – is the mobilising of all those other non-voice communication tools, such as email and internet access in particula that are so essential to daily business operations. The third wave – is then looking at mobile services and fixed services, which today are typically two very separate and distinct communication platforms, and truly bringing them together into a one single, converged solution .. Bringing the mobile back into the office ..
Wave 1 – Liberating Voice out of the office .. For most businesses today, voice remains the most important communications medium – its immediate, simple and powerful. And the benefits to businesses of mobilising voice communications outside the office are obvious in terms of superior convenience, contactability, customer responsiveness and productivity improvements, than can be delivered by just relying on fixed services alone .. So mobile is a clear winner over fixed in these areas, and consequentially its no surprise that mobile usage and penetration continues to grow, whilst fixed services usage are in decline. But the reasons for mobiles success lays much deeper than just those useability benefits, and its worth a quick reflection on a few of those key success factors 1. Coverage & reliability : between the four mobile network operators over 99% of the Australian population is now covered, and ongoing investments from all parties continue to expand and enhance this coverage footprint. furthermore, the GSM networks since launching way back in 1993 have all matured to levels of extremely high reliability and stability, supporting over 20 million users between us. The Mobile phone is a proven and trusted technology. 2. Price competition & choice : It’s a highly competitive marketplace, with four national carriers plus a bunch more MVNO’s (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) such as AAPT and CJ’s Pricing model innovations, such as the introduction of Capped voice plans and extending those into the small business arena, has seen the cost of mobile voice services and airtime dramatically decrease. Further more, the introduction of shared caps – single caps that covers a whole business and let the whole business share – have lowered the barrier to mobilising more and more of a businesses’ employees whilst delivering predicable pricing. and not only that, as the shared capped plans pricing is published , small business customers can easily hit the web to compare what other competitive offers are out there .. Quick and easy. And yet as the market approaches and passes 100% mobile penetration, the price competition continues unabated 3. Portability of Service : Since the arrival of MNP almost seven years ago in Sept 2001, its never been easier for customers to speak with their feet – if they are not happy with their current service provider they just take their business else where without losing their mobile identity. And if they have concerns about whether the coverage and service be ok with the new provider, it’s a simple thing before switching to grab a low-cost consumer prepaid service first and test it out for real before making the final switch .. 4. Quality low cost devices : And not only has the airtime cost reduced dramatically, but there is a huge variety of low cost high quality mobile devices on the market for under $100, so the incremental cost of mobilising more and more staff is no longer large. When you add these four elements together, coupled with the productivity benefits mobile devices bring, its clear to see why the mobile revolution worldwide has been so strong. And for Small Business in Australia, this is a very good thing.
Wave 2 – liberating services out of the office Now whilst voice communications is still very important for small businesses, its is clearly not the only communications game in town. Email has quickly risen to be the key written form of daily business communication, and the email medium is one for which often expectations around speed of reply takes precedence over formality of structure. Furthermore, the internet has weaved its way in as a vital business tool both as an information source and more increasingly as a transactional 24*7 global marketplace. So Wave 2 of small business mobility is all about businesses realising that voice out of the office is no longer enough – they need access to their email, they need access to the internet, and they need access to all their “in office” information such as databases and files and information stores – to be able to continue to do business effectively wherever they are. Wave 2 of small business mobility, is really the era of the Smartphone, high speed mobile data, and access to all your business information. The more innovative small businesses are already riding this wave and enjoying the benefits. Todate however, they are still in the minority, but not for long … The next 6-12 months are going to be very significant for small business mobility, as a number of key enabling factors that have now occurred all combine and come into play. These next 6-12 months is going to see the groundswell shift as the majority of small business customers begin to enter and embrace this next wave, and the Smartphone becomes the new mobile standard for mobile workers – which is really the majority of us. So what’s changed that’s so significant ? Firstly – packet data speeds over the mobile networks have increased by orders of magnitude over the last three years and are now at broadband speeds, and by the end of the year as the significant network investment continues, these speeds will be available everywhere you get mobile coverage. Downloading a 1MB file over mobile has gone from hours to minutes to seconds. Next – the price of mobile data has dramatically reduced – by over a factor of 1000 ! A few years ago, 1MB of data would have cost a customer around $20 .. Today, a customer can purchase up to 5GB of data – that’s 5000 times more data -- for less than $40 .. The third factor is the actual end user devices and end user services. The latest smartphone devices are a world apart from the mobile devices of 2000. Rich and vibrant colour high-res screens, friendly user interfaces, long battery life, Gigabytes of onboard memory, high speed mobile data capability, and many also with extra features such as Wifi, GPS and cameras all onboard. These are still “premium” devices, but prices are coming down and down .. But in addition to the devices the actual usability of the services for business – particularly features such push email and calendar, in which the BlackBerry devices are renowned for – has reached levels of simplicity and maturity where it is very easy to use - it just works. The other business tool benefiting is the laptop, with built-in or add-on 3G modems now a common and affordable option. The forth and final factor, and one which has been till now perhaps the last remaining hurdle for many small business, has been the set-up costs for small business to mobilise their email. Solutions such as BlackBerry if for deployment for a larger number of users require additional software to installed at the business premises. This software was geared at enterprises and priced in the thousands of $ -- which is a very high price of entry for a small business. New variants aimed at smaller business bring this cost down substancially, plus as an alternative latest version of Microsoft exchange software – which drives email for many businesses – now natively support push email capability directly without the need for any additional software at the customers premise.
Wave 2 – next 12 months transition to mainstream uptake .. So when we bring all these four factors together – very fast data speeds, much lower prices, compelling devices and services, and lower cost of entry – and couple that with clear business customer needs for these services, all the ingredients are there … and the fuel on the fire is going to be the arrival of a key new smartphone devices, particularly new versions from Blackberry – such as the Blackberry Bold, new Smartphones from Nokia, and of course, the arrival in Australia of the iPhone2.0, which will bring with it rich business features, including Push email, calendar and contacts using its world famous user interface. We believe it is going to be the superior ease of use and the powerful simplicity of these devices that will awaken and enlighten small business customers understanding and expectations around the place for mobile services beyond email and internet. … “ If I can get this information so easily, why can’t I also now get access to my inhouse database, my stock levels, my price book, etc etc” .. and new generation of mobile applications beyond email and internet will be embraced.
Wave 3 – Convergence .. Mobile in the Office Which brings us then to the third wave. Whilst the second wave was all about bringing more and more services onto the mobile for when you are out of the office, the third wave is all about fully leveraging that mobile investment and familiarity when you are back in the office .. And around that’s the convergence of the mobile with the fixed systems. A key business challenge today is that Fixed & Mobile services are effectively separate solutions Different #’s to call, Separate Voicemail, Different capabilities, no real integration between the two. Whilst a small business customer may be able to get fixed and mobile services on the one bill, they effectively remain to separate services with no real synergies between the services. Business users want the convenience of a mobile, but with the public face of their Office Number (on their business card) Leads to business communications inefficiencies – such as missed calls or voicemail left on the office system, and/or higher cost through setting up permanent diverts to mobiles.. Technology advancements in Fixed have occurred, such VoIP, IP PBX’s and DSL Broadband. However not fully leveraged or offered by incumbents to Small Business customers. Sticking to legacy business models (line rental) and technology (TDM – time division multiplex), continuing to sell what they have, not what the customer needs.. If IP technologies – such as VoIP – were offered end to end, the multiple physical lines required for fixed voice communications today could be replaced with a single line running symmetric DSL services at lower overall cost. And such solutions could be used as a backbone for ultimately richer service integration between fixed and mobile solutions.
So For us, this is one area where we see the potential for a better, more efficient solution to serve a Small business customers total communication needs, both in and out of the office, than they can easily get access to today. So this will be an area of increasing area of focus for us, as we keep customers needs firmly top of mind.
Small business has embraced basic mobility, benefiting from the substantial ongoing investment and innovation that has occurred in the highly competitive mobile ecosystems We see that Small businesses are on the tipping point of a bigger shift beyond voice into mobile applications – leading with email and internet access before ultimately extending into mobilising a whole bunch of other back-end applications. Challenges remain for Small Business in integrating fixed and mobile services together, but we see this as a key focus area over the next 12 months and a critical pillar for the longer term efficiencies of small business in Australia. Small Business today are reaping the benefits of strong competition, innovation and significant investments in mobile networks and technologies, but in the fixed market legacy business models are lagging and need to make way, to embrace and leverage IP technologies end to end. Its critical for Small Business success that the innovation seen in the mobile industry extends into fixed communicationofferings, and that competition for all facets of telecommunications is open and healthy. We think there are some good points to note from the success of mobile. In conclusion, it’s a really exciting time for our industry, and we are really proud to challenge ourselves to bring the best of technology to the small businesses of Australia, to continue to play a small but important part in their success.
National Small Business Summit 2008 - Mobility & competitive advantage for Small Business in Australia
Mobility and Competitive Advantage For Small Business in Australia Martin Chadban Vodafone Australia National Small Business Summit 11 th June 2008
Key Challenges for Small Business Cash Flow HR Regulation & Compliance Technology / Communications . . .
Technology / Communications Charting the Technology Minefield … Web Presence Social Networking Blogging Software as a Service WiFi FIXED Open Source Software Web 2.0 VOICE Security VoIP Dual Mode Cloud Computing Unified Comms MOBILE Virtualisation Convergence Broadband Managed Services DATA IP PBX Device Management VPN’s Email !?! Instant Messaging Presence E-commerce MalWare
The Mobility Evolution underway .. <ul><li>“ Liberating Voice” out of the office </li></ul><ul><li>“ Liberating Services” out of the office </li></ul><ul><li>“ Integrating Mobile and Fixed” in & out of the office </li></ul>Mobilising .. Voice & TXT WAVE 1 Mobilising .. Email, Internet and more .. WAVE 2 Convergence … Mobile with Fixed WAVE 3
Wave 1 – Liberating Voice out of the office .. <ul><li>Small Business have embraced the mobile as an essential business tool. </li></ul><ul><li>Are enjoying cost effective, reliable voice communications out of the office </li></ul>Key success factors : Widespread Coverage & Reliability Competitive Call Pricing & Choice Service Portability Quality Low Cost Devices Convergence … Mobile with Fixed WAVE 3 Mobilising .. Email, Internet and more .. WAVE 2 Mobilising .. Voice & TXT WAVE 1
Wave 2 – Liberating Services out of the office .. <ul><li>Voice access out of office is no longer enough … </li></ul><ul><li>Email + Internet access are critical Business operational tools. </li></ul><ul><li>Several key factors coming together to fundamentally change landscape </li></ul>Key Enabling factors : Mobile Data Speed & Maturity Compelling Device & service usability Price of Mobile Data Lower cost of entry to service enablement Convergence … Mobile with Fixed WAVE 3 Mobilising .. Voice & TXT WAVE 1 Mobilising .. Email, Internet and more .. WAVE 2
Wave 2 – Next 12 mths transition to mainstream uptake Compelling User Experience <ul><li>Will enlighten Small Business on broader potential of mobile applications </li></ul><ul><li>leading to further mobilisation of back-end office services </li></ul><ul><li>Next 6-12 mths tipping point for Small Business Smartphone adoption </li></ul>Convergence … Mobile with Fixed WAVE 3 Mobilising .. Voice & TXT WAVE 1 Mobilising .. Email, Internet and more .. WAVE 2
Wave 3 – Convergence .. Mobile in the office Small Business Challenges Today Fixed & Mobile services are effectively separate solutions Technology Advancements in IP for Fixed, less accessible for Small Business Mobilising .. Voice & TXT WAVE 1 Mobilising .. Email, Internet and more .. WAVE 2 Convergence … Mobile with Fixed WAVE 3
Wave 3 – Convergence .. Mobile in the office The Ideal Small Business solution Simple all-in one Solution Reliability, Security & Support Overall Value for Money Service customers seamlessly, in & out of office Future proof – grows with their business Mobilising .. Voice & TXT WAVE 1 Mobilising .. Email, Internet and more .. WAVE 2 Convergence … Mobile with Fixed WAVE 3
Summary Small Business have realised and enjoy the full benefits of Voice Mobility Benefits of Fixed Mobile Convergence not yet accessible to Small Business Tipping point for Small Business use of Mobile Email, Broadband & Internet has arrived