Accelerated tech adoption is generating large amounts of data, requiring updated data plans to keep businesses moving.
These disruptions are reflected in the IT spending decisions made by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) since the pandemic. Commissioned by nbn, the Telsyte Australian Digital Workplace Study 2021, showed video conferencing (37%), remote working solutions such as employee laptops (35%) and cloud-based applications (31%) as the leading IT investments reported by SMEs.
Although these applications have enabled businesses to stay connected to staff and customers, the new systems have also helped rapidly expand the volume of data businesses are dealing with. As data volume was already growing rapidly before the pandemic, the IDC estimates the volume of data stored globally is doubling every four years.
This data growth shows no signs of slowing and is forcing business leaders to adopt tools to organise their workforces, support their customers, and protect and leverage data to extract insights.
The Telsyte study reported 76 per cent of Australian SMEs had already invested in technologies with high connectivity requirements. Businesses said the top priorities they were looking at included data management and business intelligence systems –providing a strong indication that business data needs are set to continue to grow based on these priorities. So, what do businesses need to do to help ensure they remain flexible and scalable to focus on those priorities?
Different types of data have different needs
Not all data is equal. Understanding the different types of data is key to assessing the needs of a business. There are typically three data categories to consider when thinking about your own requirements:
Information-based data: Many applications like web browsing or email are designed to tolerate some lag or latency without any disruption to performance. This data is considered non-time critical data and can include instances where there is a one-way push or pull of data. It’s often thought of as the lowest priority and typically comes with standard performance commitments similar to what you would expect from your home internet plan.
A network solution based on a ‘best-effort’ data category, or those used for home plans, is often used for these applications. Businesses should keep in mind however that speed experience can vary significantly depending on other network activity.
Real-time data: Some use cases like teleconferencing and EFTPOS rely on the even transmission of data to perform properly. Delays to this type of data can prevent business applications from operating optimally and cause unplanned downtime or interruptions. Consistent two-way communication between systems is achieved by having the appropriate download and upload data available at the same time. This is where the difference between business grade plans and home plans starts to come into play.
While your standard home plan may be able to support one to three phone lines, any needs beyond this may call for a business-grade connection. Plans powered by business nbn® include wholesale network options§ that phone and internet providers can use. This will allow them to better accommodate the increased requirements of businesses for real-time data with symmetrical data options or higher upload speed options compared to home nbn plans.‡
Mission-critical data: This is the highest-priority data type, where delays could mean serious business or safety consequences. In engineering and manufacturing applications for example, networks connecting actuators and sensors with control systems need to be able to prioritise the data those systems required to keep working properly. Retailers point-of-sale systems have similar requirements to ensure data for customer transactions gets prioritised over less urgent data like emails and web browsing.
Being mission critical, this data requires prioritisation and a higher level of reliability in data performance. These applications may benefit from prioritised data, known formally as committed information rates.
These are different to standard home plans, which are usually based around the speeds they offer and primarily include speed as the variable. This ensures that certain data traffic is prioritised over less important data but also all other network activity. At a wholesale level, the data also has lower latency and is always packaged as a symmetrical option over the nbn network to help ensure upstream and downstream capabilities with less chance of Interruption.
Regardless of which type of data category your applications need, most businesses require their connectivity to be consistently up and running. The enhanced service level agreements (eSLAs)^ which nbn offers to service providers for plans powered by business nbn, is supported by a Melbourne based operations centre open 24/7 with staff trained in supporting business plan needs. These options are added to individual wholesale plans, and can help reduce the time it takes to resolve network faults affecting critical systems^.