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Barriers to connectivity: how innovation could be hindering progress

Tim Mercer — CEO of cloud-first technology firm, Vapour — joins Trenches Law for the second instalment of our barriers busting series. Penning some thoughts on the underlying challenges brought by innovation, he shares some crucial perspective on how taking a more holistic view of tech and infrastructure needs — with a closer eye on ROI — could help boost progress in the telecoms sector.

With a growing toolkit to rival some of the most renowned titans of tech, Vapour CEO Tim Mercer is well-versed on what it means to innovate. And as digital transformation efforts continue to pick up pace across the UK, organisations in a variety of industries are becoming equally hungry for success. But with fast-paced evolution comes drastic change, and therefore challenges to overcome along the way.

Here, Vapour CEO Tim Mercer explores why current and future developments must be considered more carefully — with thought around the implications of new infrastructure and technology — in order to facilitate a more productive paradigm shift…

Business leaders know the power of resilient infrastructure by now — having a network that is reliable and robust is not only essential from a business continuity perspective, but pays dividends in protecting already stretched budgets too. Plus, with more geographically disparate workforces, the requirement for every organisation to be supported by a flexible, secure, scalable, high-speed solution is amplified even further. 

But with a swarm of other factors now playing into pressures for progress — including regulatory compliance, economic constraints, plus talent attraction and retention, to name just a few — another major challenge comes to the fore, on the road to better connectivity. Because with so much focus on innovation that helps spearhead growth and boost competitive edge in today’s dynamic business environment, many C-suite executives are conversely letting precious return on investment (ROI) slip to the bottom of the agenda. In doing so, back to the drawing board they go.

For example, many company’s networks are struggling to keep pace with bandwidth requirements — particularly with the growing number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices linking employees, customers, and stakeholders together. And this is where the search for a more advanced solution continues.

But in this race for better, clouded judgement often leads to the implementation of sticking plaster solutions — investments that seem perfect at the time, but become seemingly redundant, or misaligned, in the short-term future. In order for businesses to achieve greater bang for their buck, IT leaders must therefore consider connectivity needs more holistically. 

Let’s take broadband as an example. In its infancy, routers were plugged into commercial office buildings as a quick fix, with an attractive cost. But with a lack of security exposing sensitive data over a public connection and placing privacy at risk — as well as performance limitations making them unsuitable to run low latency, mission-critical applications — these were never really fit for purpose. The result? Inefficient use of time, resources, and budget.

The same pattern can be seen with 5G, as talks about it penetrating deeper into the connectivity world increase. It offers an undeniable breadth of potential, yes — but it must be managed carefully  as a considered part of a corporate network, to truly bolster the UK’s connectivity endeavours. It’s not just about commercial and office environments either. Perhaps more importantly, residential areas are desperately lacking attention.

Disparities in regional access to fibre broadband and 5G, and the lack of progress in transforming our nation’s dated telecoms infrastructure, are well documented. But perhaps less of a hot topic, is how the penchant for progress can actually cause more harm than good. Altnets and operators are desperate to steal a march on their competition — even consolidating with partners in a bid to drive investment. So much so, that major elements of planning are often overlooked as a result — stifling progress, blowing budgets, and risking the strategic future of connectivity.

Trenches Law continues to hammer this message home, but it’s a reality the market is yet to truly face. With a more standardised process from the build stage, plus increased guidance on the requirements of an effective network build, the cost of roll-outs — and even resulting digital transformation efforts — will be far easier for companies to swallow.

So, the crucial advice to realise connectivity’s full value? Don’t innovate for innovation’s sake. Take a holistic view of the project, spend time considering each element, and lean on experts in the field to drive real impact. 

You can learn more about disruptive cloud tech firm, Vapour, here. Or, if you’re keen to discuss the topics covered in this article further, and see how you can help drive the UK’s digital future, please get in touch.

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