In our Voice over IP feature on page 29, 3CX channel manager Steve Corrigan makes the point that today’s economic climate is making people open to new ways of doing things; and that the need for economy and efficiency makes managers and directors ‘more happy to take a perceived risk’ on the new, whether that be VoIP telephony, SIP trunks, cloud computing or social media. The benefits of these technologies apply to organisations of all sizes and are especially valuable to entrepreneurs and smaller firms as they make it easier and cheaper to set up a new business and work in a flexible, responsive manner.
High unemployment levels, stretched household budgets and the current preference for freelancers (and cloud-based e-lancers) over permanent staff have caused a big rise in the number of business start-ups this year. According to Bibby Financial Services (see page 5), this is part of a broader trend that will have as great an effect on the business landscape as the first industrial revolution of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is predicting a 20% increase in the number of small businesses over the next decade and much looser business ties, as the boundaries between home and work continue to blur and people hold multiple jobs.
Technology remains central to this vision, but it is not the solutions of old that will be driving it – at least not at the front end. Instead, agility will be provided by smartphones, tablets and web-based services, all of which depend on the existence of fast, reliable broadband connectivity to achieve their potential. Yet, so lamentable is the coverage of both fixed and mobile broadband in this country that for many in rural and even not so rural areas the aspect of Bibby Financial Services’ vision that is most like the first industrial revolution is the need to up sticks and move to where the work is, i.e. to an area served by a fibreenabled exchange with FTTC and FTTP services.