Take your business to new heights

I’ve spent a lot of time speaking to business owners about the impact of slow internet on their business. It amazes me when business owners tell me that “there’s nothing better available”, “we come in on the weekend to get the work done” or “we can’t afford it”.
 
Time is the one resource that is more precious than any other.
 
Did you realise that losing 20 minutes of productivity a day equates to 3 days a year. Time that you’ll never get back in your life.
 
Now, when we look at the compounding effect of this lost time and money on your business
 
  • Team of 5 = 15 Days a Year or $2,194 in Wages
  • Team of 10 = 30 Days a Year or $4,389 Wages
  • Team of 20 = 60 Days a Year or $8,779 Wages
  • Team of 50 = 150 Days a Year or $21,948 in Wages
*Wage data based on the Fairwork minimum wage of $18.29/Hr
 
Of course I haven’t even started to calculate the impact on
  • Staff Happiness
  • Job Efficiency & Productivity
  • Technology Improvements and Savings
  • Increase in revenue due to increased productivity
  • Decrease in staff wage costs due to increase in productivity
  • and the list goes on….
So what has Summit done to address this?
 
We’ve rolled out our next generation fixed wireless network in Melbourne. We’ve started with areas which are the most affected by internet problems. Areas include Braeside, Moorabbin Airport, Dingley Village, Rowville, Ferntree Gully, Mont Waverley, Glen Waverley and Dandenong South, to name a few.
 
For less than a cup of coffee a day, your business can have High-Speed, Business Grade Internet! Imagine that!
Are you interested in taking your business to new heights? We’re interested in getting you started on your journey. Fill in the form below and one of our consultants will be in touch to get you started on your journey.

IoT for small to medium sized businesses

The Internet of Things (IoT) became a popular buzzword in 2015. By 2016, predictions of a trillion-dollar industry were common. While the future is difficult to predict, every now and then, something comes along that is as close to a sure thing as you can get. The Internet of Things is one of them. We won’t be able to tell how accurate the predictions are for a while, but there is a consensus across most industries that the IoT is going to change the world.

Knowing this is well and good, but it’s not particularly helpful to anyone running a business. You need to have a basic understanding of what the IoT actually is, how exactly it’s going to affect businesses, what you could get out of it and how it could be a threat to your business.

So, what exactly is the Internet of Things?

Without a background in IT, it can be difficult to conceptualise the IoT. The simplest way of looking at it, is that it’s the underlying network that connects previously non-connected devices, to the internet or to each other. In other words, it’s connecting everyday objects like your fridge, car, security door or dog collar to the internet. These connected devices are called “Smart Devices”.

That may seem like a silly idea. Why would you want to connect your dog’s collar to the internet?

The answer is quite simple. If your dog gets lost, you could use the internet to find the collar, and the dog. The point is that most objects we create have a function. By performing their function, they have the ability to generate information. If we can monitor and use the information, we can more efficiently use the objects to fulfil their functions. Whether it’s a dog collar or a whole factory full of machines, the principle is the same.

And how exactly does this affect a business?

The dog collar analogy should show that an object (the collar) with a function (keeping track of a dog) can carry out its function more effectively when it’s connected to the internet. If it were not, you would need to wait for a good Samaritan to find you dog and contact you. If it is, you could connect to Google Maps and find the dog yourself.

If you apply that principle to functions in a business, the effects can be amazing. In a nutshell, there are two primary benefits, reduced costs and increased productivity.

The best way to get an idea of how to get these benefits is by looking at real world examples.

  • Energy use is a major expense for most companies. Heating or cooling a building can cost thousands of dollars each year. By installing smart heating systems, you could monitor and control every variable that affects them. You could program them to only operate while there are people in the building. You could have them automatically switch off an hour before an office closes, the possibilities are varied but the result is the same. Less energy used on heating leads to less money spent.
  • Stock control processes in retail stores gives companies instant, useable information. By connecting the bar code reader at a till to the internet, you could run a program that automatically requests new stock from the supplier when levels are low, rather than waiting for a stock take. This leads directly to a decrease in lost sales, which is an increase in revenue.
  • Logistics management has become much more accurate. In any industry that needs goods to be transported from one place to another, losing stock, fuel and time are major expenses. By installing smart tracking devices on vehicles, driving patterns can be analysed, fuel usage can be monitored for theft and the doors of vehicles can be tracked remotely, stopping any stock from “falling off the back of the truck”.
  • Security services have become more accessible. Previously, you may have had an alarm that would alert the authorities to a break in at your store. Now, you can connect a camera to the internet and get a live video feed sent to your cell phone. If there is an intruder, you could call the police directly, decreasing their response time.

There are hundreds of applications and smart devices that have been developed, with thousands more in development right now. In the past, it would have been appropriate to assume that cutting edge technology is expensive and reserved for big business, until the price drops. Fortunately, the technology used by the Internet of Things is actually very simple. The devices used are usually cheap to manufacture and easy to program.

The unsophisticated nature of the devices, coupled with the ubiquitous reach of the internet, means that people with very little experience can build their own devices and applications. Small companies are creating innovations that compete directly with billion dollar enterprises. You could buy a developer kit for less than a hundred dollars and learn enough to create a fully functional smart device within a few months.

The point is, the speed of development is like nothing that’s ever been done before, the benefits are undeniable and available to all, not just big business. Barring and extinction level event, the Internet of Things is here to stay.

Why your business needs Microsoft Azure

There’s been a steady increase in the popularity and capabilities of cloud based services in the past few years. Microsoft Azure, along with a few other platforms, is at the forefront of cloud technologies.

To understand what Azure is capable of, and how it will be able to help your company, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what the cloud is.

When people talk about “the Cloud” they are simply referring to using hardware or software that is not based in their office. In other words, if you store a file like a Word document on your computer, you are storing it natively. If you store the same Word document on the internet, via Azure, you are storing it in the cloud. The data is stored on a computer somewhere else, not on your personal computer. Instead of accessing the file from your hard drive, you access it from a computer that Microsoft runs for you.

Companies like Microsoft have massive rooms, full of computers, called datacentres. They store information for many users on each computer. Each user “rents” space in these datacentres, and can only access their own information.

As the technology used to create these datacentres has advanced, so have their capabilities.

Platforms like Azure provide much more than simple storage. In fact, you could move almost all of your businesses computing onto the Azure platform.

What are the benefits of Azure?

The main benefit of Azure is that it’s modular. You only pay for what you need to use. In other words, the benefits depend on what your company uses the platform for.

There are dozens of individual products, that fall into three broad categories.

Software as a Service

Azure allows you use programs like Microsoft Word or Excel online, rather than on your computer. By removing the need to buy and install the software, there’s a cost benefit. You would pay a small amount per user per month.

You also get the added benefit of keeping your work separate and secure from your computer. If your hardware malfunctions or is stolen, your work is still accessible.

Infrastructure as a Service

Companies that use databases or need shared network storage have to buy, install and maintain servers. Server equipment is fairly expensive and needs dedicated employee resources to manage correctly.

By using Azure, companies can avoid investing in server hardware and maintenance altogether. The same functions are available, the only difference is that they are accessed through the internet rather than a local network. All of the security, maintenance and hardware is managed by Microsoft.

Platform as a Service

When a company develops applications for their customers, they need a programming platform like Java and a hosting service that stores the application itself. The customers will then be able to download the application from the hosting service.

There are a few problems with this method. The first is that the hosting platform is usually a server, so the same issues will apply as with traditional infrastructure. Aside from storing the application, an operating system needs to be installed on the server and kept up to date in order for the application to function.

By using Azure, the development tools needed to create applications and host them, are stored and accessed through the internet. This allows multiple programmers to collaborate on a project remotely.

Different companies will have different requirements. Azure products are paid for as they are used. This means that if your company is just starting out, you would not pay very much. You would probably only use a few services.

As your company grows, you would buy additional capacity on the network and pay a little more. You may wish to expand your business to include App development. By using Azure, you would simply add additional services to your subscription.

Why startup companies should use Amazon Web Services

Starting a company is one of the most difficult things you can do. It seems to be the fashionable thing to do these days, there are success stories all over the internet, of startups being sold for millions of dollars, or creating an App that changes the world.

Very few people mention how hard it is and how many of them fail.

Fortunately, Amazon can provide tools to help small business compete with billion dollar corporations.

Amazon Web Services, or AWS, provide a range of products that move all aspects of computing into the cloud. This removes that massive initial costs of setting up IT infrastructure for a small business or start up.

There are 7 key reasons that all start-ups should use AWS.

  1. There are no initial investments
    The cost of setting up servers and networking infrastructure can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The specialised equipment is expensive and requires professional installation. Maintaining the equipment requires dedicated staff resources and time.By using AWS, companies are bypassing the need for physical servers in their offices altogether. AWS gives these companies the same service, with no upfront cost. Users simply subscribe and pay for the specific services they need.
  1. AWS allows start-ups to compete with big business
    Big businesses have the spending power to create massive datacentres and use the best development tools available. Start-ups can’t compete with them in this regard. Unless they use AWS.Amazon uses some of the most advanced hardware on Earth to manage their servers. They also provide some of the best development tools available anywhere. They provide these services on pay per use plans. That means that a start-up can use the exact same tools as a market giant.
  1. Flexible pricing
    If a company needs a small server, they still have to pay the minimum price for the hardware, which can be thousands of dollars.AWS provides pricing that gives users extreme flexibility. Your company could use a few gigabytes of storage for a few dollars, or thousands of terabytes at a higher cost.
  1. Easy scaling
    If a start-up rapidly grows, the growth itself can kill it. Let’s say your company has an App with a few thousand users that your server can handle. If your App becomes popular very quickly, the userbase would grow to the point that your server can’t manage any longer. You would need to spend weeks building a new server setup to manage the new users.Using AWS, you would simply log into your account and purchase additional capacity. It would take a few minutes at most.
  1. AWS is secure
    Cybercrime is a major threat to any business, not just start-ups. The difference is that most start-ups either don’t have the technical knowledge to keep their network infrastructure secure, or they don’t have the resources to do it.As with their servers, AWS uses some of the most advanced security available. An attacker would find it far more difficult to attack Amazon than they would a small server in your office.
  1. AWS is cloud based
    Working in the cloud has a host of benefits. Your files are all saved online, which means you will never lose them if your computer gets lost or stolen. People can work on them from anywhere in the world, not just from your office. Workers can easily collaborate on files in real time.
  1. It’s easy
    Learning how to use AWS is not nearly as challenging as learning how to install and manage your own infrastructure from scratch. Amazon makes it even easier by providing online learning materials for free.

Amazon Web Services are an excellent alternative to traditional infrastructure. If you are starting a company, you should definitely consider using it. The range of products should be able to give you everything you need to set up and run your business, easily and at a fraction of the cost of setting up your own infrastructure.

7 Tips of Improving Workplace Performance

Knowing how to boost or simply maintain good workplace performance is incredibly handy if you want to keep your business afloat and, of course, to advance further. People are not machines, and there is no update that can simply make them better; in fact, very often, their performance gradually drops, and you need to know how to keep them motivated.

Basically, it all boils down to good organisation, a clear overview of responsibilities, and good incentives that boost performance and job satisfaction. Your goal is to have happy workers, who love their workplace and their fully optimised workflow, so that everyone finds their jobs convenient.

Here, we are going to discuss how you can achieve these goals and how you can bolster the level of performance at your office.

Project management tools and knowledge base

Almost any type of business, both small start-ups and large corporations, rely on project management tools. The best thing about them is that you can find the ones that are specifically designed to meet the needs of your type of work. So, you can have a more organised inflow of information, better communication among co-workers and with customers, and neatly archived database of projects.

Moreover, there is a variety of integration tools that can help you improve the UI of your website, and boost the capabilities of the tools you are using.  Furthermore, using these tools, you open up a lot of additional possibilities for better workplace performance that are going to be mentioned throughout the article.

Employee training

Training

Increased, competence leads to improved workplace performance and efficiency. However, acquiring experts straight from the get-go is definitely going to put a lot of strain on your budget, whereas training your current employees will get the same results only at the expanse of time.

However, it is not only performance that increases here, but also your employee’s job satisfaction. Knowing your job gives you the opportunity for personal growth and this is definitely going to influence the way you feel about work.

Moreover, the entire training deployment will be far easier if you use the previously mentioned knowledge base tools. You can basically train your staff with online courses and do it on a larger scale; plus, you will achieve greater cost-efficiency than traditional employee specialisation.

Team building exercise

Professional training or skill training is not the only kind of improvement that can contribute to better workplace performance. Interpersonal skill training is also a great approach to boosting efficiency and job satisfaction, and a team building exercise is the right way to go about this issue.

There are various team building exercises you can rely on, but in its core, they need to promote healthy communication, teamwork, trust, coordination, and a fun experience for everyone involved. Bonding with your co-workers can help your employees adopt a more positive attitude towards their workplace, and boost their synergy as well. The most important thing for a successful team are the 4 C’s of the 21st century: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity, and good team building should help fortify these elements.

Safety training

Lastly, your employees need to know that you care about their safety, especially if your workplace contains devices or substances that can potentially endanger their well-being.  Any workplace has its potential dangers, and some have occupational hazards, which means your staff needs to undergo some safety drills to always be prepared in the event of an emergency.

Promote flexible working arrangements

Flexible Work, Remote Work

In order to truly improve the work performance at your office, you need to switch to more flexible working arrangements that allow your employees to do their job with more convenience. This requires you to have strong networks to support the required bandwidth and a quality online platform that allows your employees to access their work regardless of their location. Moreover, you need to ensure the communication is never obstructed, and that your staff can communicate among themselves and your customers.

You should add some sort of VOIP system that would allow them to contact headquarters, as long as they have a connection to the internet. This also means they will be able to stay in touch with you and their co-workers if they are away on a business trip, and it will allow your clients who are located overseas to contact you with minimal expenses.

Stress the importance of communication

Communication is a vital ingredient for successful project execution, and assumptions can be a primary ingredient for its failure. So do not assume anything, make sure everyone understands their duties and that everybody else has the freedom to check the validity of information they received. If you do as instructed so far, you will ensure your employees have everything they need to adequately collaborate, even if they do not occupy the same space.

Altruism

Lastly, if you implement a more altruistic approach to leadership, you will definitely incentivise your workers to do better. The idea is to allow every employee to build a reputation and develop individually, while working on your projects. In other words, they create their own portfolios and are allowed to sign their work. Considering how their name is behind what they do, it is more likely that they will full heartedly devote themselves to making the product or service even better.

This is one of the techniques that is quite commonly used today, and it is good for marketing purposes, as you also allow your employees to become brand ambassadors for your company.  Moreover, do not think of it as an act of relinquishing your authority, as you are still their leader and the one who has the final say in the matter.

These were some of the techniques that you can use to increase the level of performance within your company. They should be used combined, but they can also stand on their own; the question is how much they are applicable for your line of work. Hopefully, the article will help you boost the productivity and efficiency of your employees, and achieve even greater goals.

What’s internet downtime really costing you?

More and more companies are moving to the cloud. With business applications being online and more accessible, how are you ensuring that your business is always online to avoid costly downtime?

Thinking about your business, what online applications are you using?

  • Accounting – Xero, Quickbooks, MYOB and Microsoft Dynamics
  • Email & Collaboration – Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for Work, Skype for Business, Google Hangouts
  • File, Sync & Share –  Dropbox, OneDrive for Business, Autotask Workplace & Sharepoint
  • Online Meetings – GoToMeeting, Webex, Zoom and Skype for Business
  • ERP – Pronto, Microsoft Dynamics, Netsuite, SAP Business One, Sage and MYOB EXO

How are you protecting your business connectivity from downtime? Many businesses I speak to have not thought about their connectivity to their core business systems. The cost of not having good connectivity for both a primary and backup could cost your business tens of thousands of dollars.

What’s the real cost of downtime? 

  • 10 Staff for 4 Hours at $30/Hour = $1,200
  • 20 Staff for 6 Hours at $40/Hour = $4,800
  • 30 Staff for 8 Hours at $50/Hour = $12,000

At Summit, we’re leading the way with our Fibre Internet Services, Ethernet Internet Services, EFM Internet Services and Fixed Wireless Internet Services. We’re backing up our customers primary internet service with super-fast data on the Telstra 4G Mobile Network with our seamless Managed 4G Failover service.

Having a 4G Internet Failover greatly reduces the impact on a business in the event of a primary failure and is a cost-effective way to maintain connectivity in the event of a failure.

If you’d like to get serious about your Business Internet Service then the Team at Summit Internet would love to help you design and deploy a fast and reliable data solution for your business.