Easynet Connect, the new SME specialist division of ISP Easynet, have published findings of a survey they conducted in conjunction with Quocirca showing how small and medium sized businesses are becoming more reliant on broadband services over the last few years, but seem unwilling to switch providers when service standards drop. The report asserts that not only is Internet access becoming a critical part of the operations of a modern business, but SMEs are increasing their expectations of their suppliers.
The research shows that 1 in 7 businesses wouldn't be able to manage for more than a day without broadband, and 77% had faced service problems, but only 1 in 10 were considering switching broadband service providers, distinct to consumers who are far more likely to switch if there is a better deal on offer. Two thirds of those questioned confirmed their company had been with the same broadband provider for over five years and only about 10% were considering switching to another supplier. The problem is compounded by the jargon in the industry, making it difficult for non-IT staff to manage the purchasing decisions.
"As more and more businesses regard the internet as the backbone of their day-to-day processes, it is important that they understand that internet connectivity can and should be tailored to fit. Whilst speed and cost have become the buzzwords in the consumer space, businesses owners need to look beyond to added value and support, working closely with a provider that understands their specific needs, as opposed to one that takes a one-size-fits-all approach."Rob Bamforth (Principal Analyst), Quocirca
Lack of understanding
The report highlights a lack of understanding within the general business community about the technology and issues with many having a simplistic view of how Internet connectivity works. It suggests only a third of those asked understand the benefits of symmetric vs asymmetric services and the benefits of faster upload speeds. Similarly, users tend to be focused on advertised speeds, not quality of service (although it was a recognised issue), contention of resources, etc.
In today's connected world, many companies are using the Internet for a key part of their operations from e-commerce, sales and marketing to general communications. The unavailability of even e-mail services alone can disrupt the modern efficient workforce which has learnt to rely on it, not to mention the impact on companies with VoIP platforms. The Quocirca research emphasises this with the statistic that 22% of SMEs stated they couldn't cope without Internet access for more than an hour, rising to 71% when this was raised to 24 hours. The real question managers should ask is, are they taking this into consideration in their provisioning of IT services, risk assessments and contingency planning scenarios. With the increasing tightening of business models, is your broadband provider financially stable to stay in business for the next year?
"..poor service levels and lack of support are currently being tolerated - this should not be the case. SMBs should be as demanding as consumers.."Chris Stening (Managing Director), Easynet Connect
If you run a small or medium sized business and haven't already asked yourself these questions, it's about time you did.
The full report can be downloaded here.