Use of the Internet is pervasive. In almost every area of our lives, the internet functions as a vital source of information and communication and as a method of making ideas both actionable and profitable.
In the business world, the internet is responsible for a large proportion of customer enquiries, retail transactions, recruitment and marketing drives.
When customers are trying to reach you – whether with an enquiry, to make a booking, or simply browse your products – you have a maximum of 2.5 minutes before they get bored and move on. If you lose your Internet connection, you are statistically on shaky ground. However, statistics have little to do with the impact of losing your connection at a crucial moment – and it always seems to happen at a crucial moment.
Downtime: The Bottom Line
It’s estimated that 42% of businesses experience 4 hours of downtime annually, and 20 per cent experience up to 24 hours of downtime. This may not seem significant when spread over a year, but when you consider that 52% of businesses can only tolerate an hour of downtime before experiencing a significant loss of trade and that the average loss of revenue for each minute of downtime is $4,700, an unreliable internet connection is more than a trivial inconvenience.
CA Technologies recently revealed that downtime costs businesses $26 billion each year. When Virgin Blue’s virtual check in system crashed, the reservations management company Navitaire had to compensate Virgin Blue to the tune of $20 million, and the technical hiccup resulted in 130 cancelled flights.
Very few businesses can function without being connected to the information superhighway. The days of apologizing and turning to a handwritten ledger, writing a receipt on paper or giving a loyal customer a tab are long gone.
ROI and Small Business
These facts and figures may seem disproportionate to the day-to-day realities of trade for a small business, but they indicate a significant impact on a crucial element of business: Return on Investment. Time really is money, and when your trade, supply, distribution, lead generation and customer service is based on fluid and dependable communication downtime is not something you want to entertain.
The importance of a reliable Internet connection extends further, into the need for speed, security and functionality. Advances in technologies such as fiber optic cables that offer far better security than traditional Ethernet cables, and VoIP services that afford a wealth of easy to tabulate user and infrastructure data, allow even small businesses to maximize both profit margins and customer satisfaction without the need for an IT department or even specialist.
Choosing a Reliable Provider
Internet service providers are responsible not just for delivering a professional service in terms of speed and reliable connectivity, but also for keeping highly sensitive customer information safe.
Everything from credit card details to home addresses are entrusted to many businesses, many times a day. Internet service providers earn a crust by affording their customers superior security through monitored and protected services, and offer flexibility to small businesses through up- or down-scaling service use according to the fluctuating requirements of a business.
Networking options such as VoIP lend small businesses all the high-tech nuts-and-bolts technology of big businesses, and do so for a negligible capital outlay. One of the key advantages of this type of technology is that it allows you to process all of your data, every phone call, every email, every page view or image download, through one system.
Such a set-up not only affords a high-speed connection, but allows businesses to easily keep track of things like key performance indicators such as media or communications producing optimal conversion rates. In today’s inescapably interconnected and interactive world, the importance of a reliable dedicated internet access is equivalent to the importance of your customers themselves.