The Difference Between Internet and Broadband
While many people use the terms interchangeably, the internet is not the same as broadband. In fact, you can use a broadband link to receive many different services which are completely unrelated to the public internet, such as security monitoring, health monitoring, machine-to-machine communication (e.g. meter reading or alarm monitoring), and video-conferencing.
The internet is a collection of networks and computers all joined together using the same basic communications technology. A broadband service is simply a fast, always-on way of linking your premises to the internet and other services.
Your Online Presence
Having an online presence offers a wealth of benefits enabling organisations to participate in the fast growing digital economy. An online presence supports existing marketing and sales activities, increases productivity and enables efficiency through the use of e-commerce for online sales or fundraising.
Benefits of going online include:
- Helping existing members and customers learn more about your products and services, and making your business easy to find.
- Exposing your business to a wider audience of potential customers and supporters that you might not otherwise be able to reach.
- Using digital marketing techniques such as social media, email or specialist advertising (e.g. Google AdWords) as effective, low-cost ways to discover and connect with people who may be interested in your products or services.
- Creating a deeper relationship with your customers and supporters using tools like social media for sharing news and other information.
Once your online presence is established, you can analyse how people use your site (for example, what they click on, browse or purchase), then use this information to keep your website fresh, create content that is interesting to your audience and make decisions about new merchandise or member activities.
Are There any Risks?
Before connecting your small business to the internet and using it for critical business functions, you need to consider the risks involved. The six modules of this course set out a range of opportunities that would allow all small businesses and Not-For-Profit organisations to take advantage of fast broadband.
If you take advantage of even a portion of what is on offer, you may soon discover that your business has a high degree of dependence on the broadband service being always on and reliable. If your phone service is also running over broadband, your dependence on this technology increases considerably - your broadband access line can be a critical business asset.
To minimise risk to your business from the failure of broadband-enabled services, you should -
- Identify and assess any risks: Perform a ‘risk assessment’ for your use of telecommunications. The risk assessment looks at the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services you are planning to implement or have implemented and examines what impact there would be to the functions of your organisation if these were unavailable. For example, if you have an online booking system for art venues, use eCommerce for the sale of merchandise (see Module 5), or operate a call centre for tourist information, what would be the impact to your customers, your staff and your business generally if these were not operating? The assessment will then examine what alternatives there are to access your online presence or your telephone services if the broadband connection fails.
- Treat the issues: Obtain the highest quality (i.e. most continuously available and reliable) broadband service that you can afford, to match the level of risk. This may include having separate alternate services that can be used in the event of failures in your primary service. Write an action plan including the steps you would perform to minimise impact in the event of a disruption to this service.
- Monitor critical components-: Make sure that your service provider and/or your ICT staff have implemented continuous 24 × 7 monitoring of all critical components of your telecommunications environment. Ensure that there is an adequate response plan in place, tailored to your operational needs. This can include rostered staff carrying pagers or mobile phones who are available to repair failed or degraded services in time for the commencement of your daily operations. If you don’t expect repairs to be completed in time for commencement of business, or if failure occurs during business hours, be sure to notify your members or customers of the issue and provide an estimate of when you expect the service to be available.
For more information, check out ACCAN’s Business Continuity Plan tip sheet on our web site.