Determining company size used to be all about number of employees and/or revenue. Likewise, setting up enterprise networks used to be all about staffing levels. That magic number was used to determine things like network speed and bandwidth requirements. These days, however, company “size” is less about number of employees – and more about bandwidth consumption and data appetite.
Company size (whether based on revenue or number of employees) and geography often have very little to do with how we classify today’s organizations. A company we may have deemed as “small” a few years ago might be viewed differently today because of the data it creates – and the infrastructure required to move that data to people across the globe on a daily basis. Think about organizations like Amazon, Netflix and Uber, for example; these companies aren’t necessarily the largest based on traditional metrics, but are definitely considered “large” by today’s data standards.
Some experts say that data is now more valuable than oil (meaning that data will drive our future). According to a 2017 IBM Marketing Cloud report, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. And eight years from now, an IDC survey says that the average connected person will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times per day.
Employees are doing and creating things that, even just a few years ago, weren’t feasible. This calls for more speed, more power, more data – more everything.
Here are a few examples of how organizations across all markets are using technology to change what they do and how they do it – ultimately influencing bandwidth requirements and proving why number of employees is no longer a true indicator of what an enterprise network truly needs.
Bandwidth Requirements in Healthcare
Today’s healthcare environments don’t base network requirements on numbers of staff and patients, or number of locations anymore – but instead based on the types of technology and data they use and generate. In the last 10 years, several new advancements have made healthcare environments more reliant on network connectedness:
- Electronic health records
- High-definition video consultations/virtual medical care/telehealth services
- Real-time transfer of large, high-resolution images (x-rays, scans, ultrasounds, etc.)
- Devices that patients wear for remote monitoring, and also use to report back to communicate with medical staff
Bandwidth Requirements in Hospitality
In 2018, hotel guests bring, on average, three devices with them for personal and business use (a laptop, smartphone and tablet, for example). Technology and network access is becoming just as important – if not more so – than amenities like pools, onsite gyms, free breakfast, etc. Hotels are now expected to provide networks that can support guests as they simultaneously:
- Conduct video calls
- Stream and share online content
- Browse the web and use apps with no delays in service, indoors and outdoors
To continue to meet guest expectations, many hotel operations are influencing bandwidth needs as well:
- Providing virtual tours of the property through augmented and virtual reality
- The ability to manage rooms via smart devices (68% of guests want to use their smartphones for check in/check out, for example)
- Using artificial intelligence to field guest questions and provide room service
Bandwidth Requirements in Manufacturing
Several years ago, manufacturing plants were able to put their networks on the back burner. The enterprise network wasn’t crucial to business operations, and only a few key people really needed access to the data and information. Fast forward to today, where automated processes and interconnected machines rule, and bandwidth is just as important for manufacturing plants as it is for any other environment.
Driving bandwidth requirements forward are technology innovations like:
- Equipment that transmits performance data wirelessly; based on results, adjustments can be made automatically or alerts can be sent about necessary maintenance
- Cloud computing to connect multiple plants so companies can share, compare and benchmark data in real time
- Augmented reality to give workers real-time notifications and instructions, and even allow machines to be monitored and managed remotely
Bandwidth Requirements in Schools
Students, staff and faculty carry many devices with them – all running multimedia applications. For example: A student can be working on a laptop and streaming Pandora via a mobile phone while watching a YouTube video on an iPad – all while waiting for a professor to post test scores online.
Technology trends in schools, like online and blended learning (where teaching is delivered over the Internet), live analytics to capture responses during class, and campus-wide communications about daily announcements, weather updates or even emergency alerts, are requiring schools to re-evaluate their network requirements and increase bandwidth.
Preparing for Change
No matter what type of organization you work for, technology is likely changing the way you work – and also changing your network bandwidth requirements. Connect with us if you need help creating a plan for how to handle this increasing need for speed and data. We can uncover how long your current cabling infrastructure can support the technology you use, as well as reveal what may be needed down the road.
With more than 25 years of industry experience, Sean McCarthy serves as Belden’s sales director for the U.S. Central region, and also leads Belden’s North American Systems Engineering Team. Sean’s teams help define clients’ emerging technology needs, and deliver education, designs and specifications that enable emerging technologies. He’s responsible for developing and implementing sustainable programs that enable continuous technical education, skills development and thought leadership among Belden’s technical professionals.