They call it network traffic for a reason, and when you have a growing multi-location business, the increased burden on your network can cause a real traffic jam. With more users sharing files, streaming videos, hosting web conferences and using online applications, network bandwidth and storage can get stretched pretty thin. Older cabling, aging wireless access points and subpar network design can also slow internet speeds and dull productivity, while outdated or insufficient security protections can leave you vulnerable to data leaks, theft and other cyberattacks.
The good news is that a professionally planned network provides the infrastructure for better, more secure tools and devices. If you’re planning on upgrading your business’s communications systems by installing VoIP, hosted voice or unified communications platforms, here’s what your network needs for success.
Your team members probably engage in plenty of bandwidth-hogging behaviors just trying to get through their day. Watching instructional videos on YouTube or other video sharing services; uploading and editing files on Dropbox, Office 365, Google Docs or any cloud-based file sharing platform; hosting or attending video web conferences; installing computer updates; uploading images or other large files; or even listening to streaming music or podcasts while they work can all eat up precious bandwidth.
A high demand on your network’s bandwidth can cause interruptions and ultimately make it harder for employees to get their work done. An IT specialist can help you decide when it’s time to upgrade your bandwidth — and can recommend improvements that will increase overall network efficiency.
These days, the majority of cloud services providers guarantee at least 99.9 percent uptime, which means the bar is set pretty high for websites, applications and servers. Not only do network outages affect the customer experience and employee productivity, they also translate directly to lost revenue. Just one minute of downtime costs an average $5,600, which adds up to over $300,000 per hour.
Backups are key to avoid delays — and costs — associated with network outages. Alternative internet connections provide backup online access for your internal team and can divert traffic from online systems such as hosted access controls to improve network performance. Server backups, meanwhile, allow you to get servers back online fast in case of a failure.
As devastating as downtime can be, a serious breach can be even worse. Cyberattacks have run rampant over the past decade, with more threat actors targeting small businesses, healthcare organizations and other vulnerable entities. Without adequate security protections, any hacker with a packet sniffer can intercept network traffic, stealing passwords, personally identifiable information, trade secrets and more.
A secure network is paramount for businesses operating remotely, over Wi-Fi or on the cloud. If you’re expanding your business or if you haven’t replaced existing firewalls in three years or longer, it’s time to call in the IT experts for an evaluation.
Many high-speed internet connections begin as ad hoc networks: a collection of routers and work stations added as needed. Unfortunately, this can dull network efficiency, especially when you’re relying on outdated ethernet.
We recommend that businesses with IP-connected communications services like VoIP or hosted voice invest in high-grade copper cabling (category 6 or better), along with a planned cabled network. These two improvements help you to avoid dead zones, build better Wi-Fi connections and ensure a healthy, productive network.
Upgraded Wireless Access Points
Do your employees always work from their desks? If they’re anything like most modern workers, they probably bounce from their work station to conference rooms to communal areas — and they don’t leave their laptops and phones behind.
Robust Wi-Fi is a vital part of a modern business network, and it can only be accomplished with strong, thought-out wireless access points, which project Wi-Fi signals so users can access your network from anywhere in the office. Professionally planned wireless networks allow you to create access points in garages, break rooms and other hard-to-connect spaces — and of course, they better support VoIP-connected mobile devices, as well.
A Full Network Assessment
Every business is different, of course, with various network requirements and existing devices. That’s why, if you’re thinking of upgrading to a new voice or other communications system, it may make sense to engage an IT provider for a full network assessment.
Professional consultants — like those at Taylored — can help you evaluate your network capabilities and plan for improvements that will streamline workflows and allow communications platforms to perform at the top of their game.
First, however, you need to decide what new communications systems make sense for your organization. For help with that, download our free e-book Integrating Communications for a Multi-Location Business. Use it to review your options when it comes to interoffice communication. Taylored wants to help you build strong, efficient networks and communications systems for all your locations — even if those offices are halfway across the globe.