Have you ever been on a train when the signal has cut out? Or done a Skype call when everything has gone silent and you are unable to hear your colleague on the other end?
These are, unfortunately, everyday occurrences for all business people across Europe. And, as much as this is an inconvenience at the time, there is a much deeper level of concern that should be applied to these situations. What is really happening when the mobile phone call cuts out or VoIP drops, is that the infrastructure is not as strong as it should be and is failing.
While vendors romantically wax lyrical about a world where the internet is all around us, where devices connect seamlessly and constantly, where virtual and augmented reality will be flawlessly integrated into our everyday lives, the stark reality is very different. Very few organisations actually talk about the infrastructure and how this hyper connectivity will actually happen. Right now, there are rural areas of the UK and mainland Europe that don’t have any internet access – even simply having a phone call on a train requires an explanation to the caller that the call might drop due to connection failure.
The challenge here is whether this is the responsibility of commercial organisations or governments. Should connectivity and broadband be a national utility like the national grid? Or should commercial organisations be encouraged to update the infrastructure themselves? There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. Regardless of who has ultimate responsibility, the infrastructure must be rugged, secure and reliable and not discriminate when it comes to location or financial clout of the user.
Getting online has now become a basic requirement for people. For example, in the UK, taxing and registering cars must now be done via the internet, schools use it as their main method of communication with parents, there are penalties for citizens paying bills in methods other than online, and this necessity for being connected will only increase as new technology becomes available. The Internet of Things for example, cited by many as the Next Big Thing, cannot function without the infrastructure behind it. Cloud computing will see little uptake across Europe unless the infrastructure can be installed, maintained and operated across each region. Infrastructure is the foundation to ensuring the future of new technology.
And this is why distribution has such a vital role to play. Distributors have a unique position in being able to promote this requirement for connectivity, with knowledge and understanding of exactly what is required to supply it. Additionally, regional distributors have an understanding of exactly where within each country the infrastructure is weakest and needs more support. With regular vendor exposure to technology, distributors are also on the cusp of the very latest in technology, often privy to more insight than a government or non-profit technology organisation would be.
Leveraging this knowledge, understanding and interaction with the organisations capable of delivering this infrastructure could not just help to boost their own standing in the market by facilitating the infrastructure for new technology solutions they can sell, but it would give an overall boost to the economy across Europe.
CEO, Context Research