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Why networking is core to the remote working revolution

Partners must offer UK businesses a multitude of options to boost connectivity and get the economy back on track

Ethernet cable with lights shooting from the end

Lockdown has undoubtedly changed our working life, and as rules continue to change in regard to working from home, for many, it’s not going to be 'business as usual' for the foreseeable future. Employees have proven that remote working doesn’t hinder productivity, meaning that the workforce will increasingly likely keep a ‘hybrid’ approach to their working week - with many of the population combining home working with office working. 

This transition to remote working, which will continue into the long term, has resulted in an increase in demand for facilitating solutions. Channel partners have been inundated with requests and calls for advice as IT leaders at businesses across the UK have been tasked with ensuring seamless and consistent performance with minimised disruption. Not only does this mean having the correct solutions in place, but also the right level of connectivity.  

Quality of connectivity

It may sound rudimentary, but a business is only as good as its connectivity. From jolting video calls to shared screens that won’t load, unreliable connectivity is a thorn in the side of any organisation and an important barrier to overcome. That’s why it’s important for channel partners to provide customers with access to networks that ensure consistent connectivity that can be relied on by both remote workers and those who return to the office. Similarly, small business owners taking businesses into their own homes expect the same consistency of communication and delivery, which needs to be provided to get the economy back on track. Bandwidth needs to be routed to where it’s most needed, and businesses need to work with channel partners who can assist.

As such, connectivity is central to business performance, which means both increasing performance in built-up, urban areas and ensuring that those working in more rural areas also have a strong and steady connection that doesn’t require huge amounts of customer investment. With an economically turbulent time ahead, channel partners need to start advising businesses now to get on the front foot and ensure that poor connectivity doesn’t hamper productivity. 

The all-IP shift 

Partners offering access to the best available connectivity will ultimately come out on top. Digital transformation has been on the radar of IT teams for a long while, but lockdown has forced many to re-assess their current options and technologies, leading to an acceleration in thinking and adoption. Businesses now more than ever want to be supported in their new digital initiatives, and partners that fulfil customers’ requirements of consistent connectivity will be part of this revolution. 

Driving things further, companies are looking for offerings that embrace the all-IP world, as if they don’t work with their channel partners to start to put in place the right technologies now, they risk being left behind. In 2025, companies will see the switch-off of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), ending analogue provisions from telecoms providers.

Channel partners need to ensure they’re future-proofing their customers. For businesses that continue to rely on legacy access solutions, they will be forced into a quick decision come switch-off, while also missing out on opportunities to grow and transform. 

Giving your customers what they need

Also, vitally, not all solutions are created equal, and neither are the networks they’re granting access to, so businesses must consider what they need based upon a variety of criteria such as bandwidth, resilience, performance and flexibility.

Similarly, as we enter a period calling for monetary caution, businesses don’t want - and are unlikely to - shell out for connectivity solutions that require too much investment or require interaction with multiple vendors. It’s crucial that channel partners are giving their customers, no matter their market or geography, what they require. A singular update to connectivity packages is no longer enough. Instead, it's vital that partners offer their customers a multitude of options that give businesses choice on the best available speeds – leaving nobody behind.

What suits one business’ needs won’t necessarily suit another, so channel partners need to offer the flexibility and agility to provide what’s needed and ensure customers are aware of what’s available. Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), which removes the copper element from the equation and provides superfast connectivity is an example of a technology that provides internet connectivity to much of the UK, and could be considered by channel partners as part of their offerings.

With the much referenced ‘new normal’ beginning to take shape, channel partners need to keep abreast of evolving technologies that will best support their customers and ensure they do not fall foul of potential barriers. Connectivity must be at the core, and with an all-IP future on the horizon, partners that aren’t at the forefront to support their customers will fall behind.

Paul Beacham is senior manager for data networking portfolios at BT Wholesale

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