3. Getting the Most from Broadband

America’s SBDC and Strategic Networks Group Announce Easy-to-Use Tool to Uncover Online Opportunities

Digital Economy Industry Insights Barometer Gives Businesses Better Understanding of Online Activities that Impact Their Bottom Line

sbdclogoStrategic Networks Group rolled out a new tool for small businesses to assess their digital effectiveness at America’s SBDC 35th Anniversary Annual Conference in San Francisco, earlier this month. The Digital Economy Industry Insights Barometer will be available on America’s SBDC ( www.americassbdc.org) and at sngroup.com/barometer.

Starting today, SBDC’s business clients can take a two-minute survey to uncover how the most common Internet applications and platforms financially impact their bottom line. The potential revenues and cost savings are based on SNG’s proprietary database of impacts reported by nearly 40,000 businesses from across the United States. Results are reported based on company size and industry to ensure relevance and businesses are provided a basic utilization score to help then gauge where they stand against their industry average.

“Intuitively, building out broadband networks across America will afford small businesses an advantage in growing and sustaining their businesses. However, providing SBDC small business clients with actual ROI numbers for Internet applications empowers them to make decisions regarding the online business activities that will impact their businesses the most,” explained Donna Ettenson, VP of Operations at America’s SBDC

“We’re looking to help businesses understand the financial impacts they can realize online no matter their size or industry,” said Michael Curri, president and founder of SNG. “America’s SBDC’s stand at the intersection of Internet and small businesses and have a unique opportunity to help drive real economic impact through these yet-to-be-adopted applications.”

About Strategic Networks Group (SNG)
Focused on economic advancement through broadband utilization, SNG is a group of broadband economists who develop strategies for most effectively leveraging broadband investments. SNG addresses broadband utilization from the individual organization level all the way up to working with more than ten American states. SNG looks to help make the most broad-reaching and transformational impacts that broadband can bring to enable businesses, communities and regions by delivering the data and analysis decision makers need to maximize broadband’s potential.   Learn more about SNG online at www.sngroup.com


What’s your broadband score?

DEi

As we focus on a strategy for successful broadband initiatives and network builds, have you ever been asked by your constituents – how do I compare to my competition? What are other communities doing to better leverage broadband? What are the benefits of broadband should I be leveraging? In general, how am I doing?

SNG has recently announced our Digital Economy Index (DEi) – an assessment tool, an organization-specific “scorecard” that draws on information from eSolutions Benchmarking to assist small businesses and other organizations see where they stand. SNG’s DEi is a composite score of how organizations use Internet-enabled applications, or “e-solutions,” to drive productivity and competitiveness. By providing organizations’ with their DEi score, you are providing them insights into their utilization of e-solutions, how they compare to their peers, and where they can adjust to increase efficiencies, innovation, and profitability.

The Digital Economy Index helps organizations develop their own broadband adoption plan (and economic growth path). Which leads into the next step, awareness & adoption support (Step 5 of the Broadband Lifecycle, or path to owning your digital future).


The Broadband Lifecycle: e-strategy, planning, and building capacity

By Michael Curri – Broadband networks can create a “platform for productivity, competitiveness and innovation” in your community – delivering the infrastructure to capture economic and social opportunities, some known, some yet to be invented.  Many communities fail during the broadband strategy, build-out and adoption phases as they lack focus and/or sufficient investment of time, energy, and resources.

Too often communities develop strategies based on following recipes from other regions. Instead of uncovering what the needed resources are, or how to leverage current efforts to best serve the specific and unique needs of the community, civic leaders race to “do what they did.”

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for successful broadband strategies that bring economic and civic benefits to a region and its citizens. Each community not only has different needs, but different strengths to best leverage the broadband platform. Strategic Networks Group (SNG) has for years been helping governments, at municipal, regional and national levels, to best understand where investment will make the biggest impact – and each and every time the best approach involves following the Broadband Lifecycle, or path to owning your digital future.

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How to invest wisely – 4 key guidelines

By Doug Adams

Now that you have funding, how can you make sure that your project lives up to the promise that got it funded in the Invest_wisely_SNGfirst place? Hundreds of broadband projects are being funded in 2010 – be it from Stimulus or some other funding source – but how many will truly become a community asset that drives economic and social benefits?

Key to making sure your project will have a return on investment with quantifiable outcomes starts with these four guidelines:

  1. Don’t focus on engineering: it’s all about awareness and adoption;
  2. Use data to drive decisions before, during, and after the project;
  3. Create a “platform for innovation”: investing in broadband is NOT just about the financials;
  4. Frame the benefits, measure them, and promote.

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Local economic development through broadband is about much more than technology

(Read the entire article by Gary Dunmore here)

Today, most people and businesses are computer literate, and aware of the Internet’s potential – at least in general terms: about 70% of households have a computer at home with some form of Internet access (increasingly broadband), many others have access to computers and the Internet at other locations (such as the workplace or school) and virtually every business uses computers and over 85% have Internet access. Many households and businesses don’t “use” broadband mostly because it is not available in their area. However that’s changing fast – as private and public investments help make broadband increasingly more available and adoption more straightforward. The proof: current research shows that US household broadband adoption increased from 55% to 63% in the past year, while dial-up Internet use dropped from 10% to 7% over the same period.

But this also means that up to 30% of households remain “unconnected” to the Internet – for a variety of reasons, including uncertain relevance, affordability, and availability. And, while connected to a greater degree, many small businesses face the same issues when it comes to broadband adoption.

What it is missing?

For many, it is a complicated matter: firstly understanding what broadband can do for them, and then understanding that it is worth doing, and finally understanding how to make it happen. Increasing the understanding of broadband relevance contributes to the adoption of broadband by new users and increases the “benefits” of broadband by those that have it.

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