Many of us start to get a little nostalgic at this time of year and cast our minds back over the events of the previous 12 months. Some things will have gone well: others less so. Yet businesses can’t rest on their laurels. They need to look to and plan for the future: that’s particularly the case for the communications industry. Technologies are advancing at an incredible pace these days, and each new technology can bring advantages for small and medium sized businesses. These companies now have the capability of competing with some of the biggest players in the market. There was a time when money determined what you could and couldn’t do in business communications. Technology has gone a long way to redressing this imbalance. So rather than looking backwards over the course of 2011, isn’t it time we looked forward to 2012? What will the coming year bring, and what sort of changes will we see in the communications industry?
Voice over IP
Unsurprisingly, industry experts are predicting thatwill continue to replace and supersede traditional systems for many small and medium sized businesses. Technology writer and author of VoIPWatch, Andy Abramson, believes that businesses have now started to appreciate and understand the benefits that VoIP communications bring; particularly the cost-saving benefits and how the technology allows businesses to incorporate other services especially where cloud-based communications are enabled:
“VoIP is replacing traditional telephone systems, both inside the carriers and with businesses and consumers alike. VoIP is growing, and more and more is the mainstream mode of voice communications. I would expect to see VoIP and video communications to keep growing.”
His comments echo those made by Dave Dadds, deputy chairman of the Federation of Communication Services, in October this year. Mr Dadd stated that most companies will use VoIP in some form in the next few years, as it doesn’t just drive down communication costs; it also offers clarity and flexibility which is simply not possible with traditional line-based telephony.
Virtualisation will radically change the way in which small and medium businesses store their data in 2012, according to one industry specialist. Eoin Blacklock, managing director of KeepItSafe, believes that data storage will be an increasingly important issue for companies next year and, he argues, virtualisation will be at the forefront of their plans.
“Virtualisation of servers and desktops will increase as companies need to adjust their storage systems, as the amount of data produced by businesses continues to grow exponentially. It will become impossible for service providers to continue to manage storage requirements with traditional local storage. This will force the natural evolution to disaster recovery solutions and data backup to the cloud.”
He was also keen to emphasise that all companies will need to acquire the most flexible as well as affordable storage options available to them and cloud storage excels. He maintains that tape storage is becoming “increasingly unreliable” and no longer looked upon as a favourably by the majority of firms. He was also concerned about the way in which many companies store data on movable devices such as USB sticks, as such devices are easy to steal, and importantly just as easy to lose.
His comments on data usage on mobile devices echo those made by Nicko Van Someren, chief technology officer for Plus Good Technology on the Financial Times’ connected podcast recently.
Van Someran believes that all too often businesses look at the flexibility and ease of use offered by movable devices, without giving due consideration to the potential risks they might offer. While being able to send company information wirelessly to employees’ laptops and smartphones makes the process of much more fluid, Van Someran argues that it also opens the company up to a “whole stack of new risks”.