Technology is often one of the most overlooked aspects when a business is in transition. For our purpose, a transition is a move, upsize or downsize. There are many moving parts that need to be considered and factored into a transition. The top three areas of your technology infrastructure that need to be addressed are networking, internet service provider and telephone communications.
Your new office will need to be networked in some way, shape or form. Though wireless networks are available, it is best to have your new location physically wired using the latest structured wiring cables, Cat6 or Cat6a. These cables are rated for network speeds up to 10Gbps (10,000Mbps) as opposed to the older Cat5e cables which are rated for network speeds of up to 1Gbps (1,000Mbps). Wireless networks are a supplement to, not a replacement for, your wired network and should be viewed as such. They are often used for laptops, iPads, mobile phones and guest access when you have a visitor.
Internet Service Provider
Having an Internet Service Provider (ISP) ensures that you have a connection to the Internet. Your choice of providers will be limited by two things:
- The providers that are available in your geographic area; and
- The providers that are allowed into your commercial space by your landlord, unless you own the space. Believe it or not, there are commercial landlords who refuse to allow certain ISPs in their properties.
Next, you have to assess the needs of your business to determine what level of access and speed you need. A lot of businesses operate on shared Internet connections, such as connections through your local cable provider or fiber connections However, if a reliable connection is a high priority for your business, you may find a benefit in choosing a dedicated connection to the ISP. With a dedicated connection to your ISP you are guaranteed the advertised speeds.
This is a big one. Do you go for the traditional phone options or do you utilize a Voice Over IP (VoIP) provider? The primary factors here are typically capital outlay and feature set.
With on-premises phone systems you have to pay the cost of the system up front. This may be a deal breaker if you are a newer business, or your financial circumstances do not allow your business to absorb this cost. From a functionality standpoint you are also limited to the features of the physical system. For example, if you want e-mail transcription of voicemails but the system you chose does not offer that feature, you are out of luck. Another pitfall of an on-premises system is that you are limited to the amount of incoming phone lines that you choose to pay your phone carrier for. This can cause issues with callers getting a busy signal or being routed to voicemail.
Hosted phone systems, often referred to as Voice over IP (VoIP), allow you to circumvent some of the problems that traditional phone systems have.
- Providers – You are not limited to a service provider based on geographic availability.
- Portability – You are able to simply take your phone with you if you move to a new location without the need to schedule a move with your carrier.
- Flexibility – You have the ability to add and remove new phones/extensions as your company grows/contracts.
- Features – You have all of the features of an enterprise system without the cost. As new features are added by your service provider you are able to take advantage of them.
As you can see, technology infrastructure is an important part of any transition to your business. It is best to consider your technology needs during the planning stages of your transition, rather than as an afterthought, in order to avoid gaps in service and functionality.