Virtually every business today has some sort of need for connectivity for its computer and IT needs. Whether it is using cloud based applications to process data and transactions or using a cloud based data backup strategy the ability to get on line safely and quickly is almost a given.
Unfortunately not all locations are equal in providing competitive options for businesses to get this needed connectivity. The greater the need and the more intensive the connected traffic then the more the locational decision for a business can be impacted.
In a couple of articles over the past month ITbusiness.ca has shown how cities and their partners are starting to look at these issues. The focus of these articles are on Toronto and the announcement about the Google neighbourhood announced for the water front and also on a plan to rate buildings in Toronto on their connectivity capability as a means to build competitive advantage.
While both of these articles centre on Toronto it is possible for other locations to adopt and seek similar capabilities in the guise of attracting companies who require high capacity and cost effective connections. Even smaller centres may be able to accomplish this with creative partnerships and focus.
What does this strategy mean?
Considering the strength of connectivity options is potentially a significant factor for any newly locating business but what about those who are already in place. Any business that has struggled with the poor options for connectivity in a legacy industrial subdivision with poorly planned electronic connections will tell you that the potential to force them to move could be created more due to that struggle than by more traditional factors like highways, road access, transit etc.
Certainly any of the over 200 jurisdictions which put in a bid for the new Amazon 2 installation had to address the potential to provide solid, fast redundant IT connectivity. Of course this is a super macro case but since the need for this type of infrastructure is common to almost any business then the presence of good options is going to be an increasingly important factor in business decisions.
So how well is Canada equipped in this regard. Certainly, in most major centres there is high speed reliable and redundant service available. Price may be a factor that is not as competitive as some locations however as our electronic communications backbone is pretty centralized in a few companies and that may mean our pricing is less competitive than some other locations.
There are a few steps being taken to attempt to improve the access in remote and rural areas but an overall look at our relative position is not easily found. Looking at this in more depth could be a worthwhile project which might help guide future investment so that our businesses can compete broadly in a connected world. Certainly, any business that has struggled with the issues around connectivity will be sure to look at this infrastructure availability at any time of potential expansion or move.