Thursday, August 11, 2011

Australia - NBN changes the way companies can engage with customers and can make efficiency gains for them and the national economy

[it wire] The head of IT at one of Australia’s leading law firms has provided the most compelling reason yet as to why enterprises need to start planning immediately for the services they will offer as the national broadband network is rolled out across the country. It's all about a resurgence of IT driven competitive advantage.

Speaking at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Sydney today Peter Westerveld, chief information officer for Minter Ellison said; “If the technology makes it easier for us to connect to clients, so it will be easier for competitors to connect to clients.” Organisations which failed to start planning now for the services they might offer in the future would miss out on the competitive advantage accruing from being an NBN early adopter he warned.

Mr Westerveld said that once the network was rolled out the way that law firms interacted with clients would be quite different. He said that law firms competed both for clients and for talent, and innovative, fast IT systems were seen as offering a competitive advantage that organisations could not afford to ignore.

Glenn Archer, first assistant secretary of AGIMO, (the Australian Government Information Management Office) meanwhile said that the increased speeds and reach offered by the NBN would “Open enormous opportunities to build service delivery platforms for citizens.” He made the unsubstantiated claim that the “Internet is now the preferred channel” for citizens to do business with Government, but acknowledged that the services which government could deliver at present were “constrained by the lowest common denominator” in terms of the technology platform and internet speeds available to Australians.

This he said led to “Often skinny, basic websites,” being developed because “Most citizens are limited to dial up speeds.”

He also said that a fast ubiquitous broadband network was essential to deliver the promised benefits of cloud computing. Cloud computing he said “Will be as much of a game changer as the internet. But if you don’t have high speed internet you don’t have cloud.”

Sharing the platform was Jim Hassell, head of product development and sales at NBN Co. He said that organisations with early access to the NBN in Tasmania were now starting to see benefits.

He cited film animation company Blue Rocket which had previously taken 30 hours to download a 24 minute video from overseas clients. Uploading the completed video back to the client took 11 days.

Mr Hassell said that the speeds offered by the NBN meant that the download would now take 35 minutes, and the upload one and a half hours.

While much commentary about the NBN has focussed on whether the country needs a network which would allow entertainment videos to be downloaded quickly, research revealed by Cisco today demonstrates that the video content on the internet is surging even given current network speeds.

Releasing the results of its Visual Networking Index Forecast for 2010-2015, Les Williamson, vice president of Cisco Asia Pacific, said that by next year 50 per cent of consumer traffic over the internet would be visual. In Australia 80 per cent of internet traffic was expected to be video by 2015.

Not all of that visual traffic will be entertainment focussed. The rollout of the national e-health initiative will vastly increase the amount of visual medical data transmitted over the internet for example.

Also the release yesterday of the Productivity Commission’s report into how to tackle the nation’s ageing population called for more Australians to be provided with aged care services in their own home. This will demand the use of telehealth and remote monitoring devices, again increasing the amount of non entertainment video transmitted over the internet.

Mr Hassell said advances in other technologies – such as medical imaging systems - was also placing additional burden on communications networks. Where a typical medical scan might have once collected 20 Mbytes of data, the resolution had advanced to the extent that a scan today could reach 200 Mbytes placing much higher demands on communications networks should the scan be transmitted electronically.

Cisco’s research suggests that by 2015 the 20 million internet users in Australia will each generate 19.5 Gbytes of internet traffic a month.

Law firm believes NBN promises competitive edge

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