Southeast embraces mobile data applications
Innovation Profile Improved connectivity will allow regional businesses to use hand-held devices to access resources remotely
Fergal Kelly, chief technology officer with Vodafone Ireland whose ¤1 billion nationwide network upgrade has already seen businesses in the southeast take advantage of mobile data services
The vastly improved mobile data coverage which has resulted from Vodafone Ireland’s billion euro network investment is beginning to bring tangible benefits to businesses in the southeast region. The investment programme has resulted in mobile data services being made available to areas where previously only mobile calls could be made. These significant improvements will allow business users to access the full functionality of their smartphones or tablets whenever and wherever they want.
In addition, customers will also be able to utilise Vodafone’s high definition voice service which delivers greater phone voice quality, minimises background noise and allows crystal clear conversations even when on the move.
“Smart devices have become a vital part of people’s lives so we have been working hard to improve our network and coverage to ensure our customers can do more and be better connected,” says Fergal Kelly, chief technology officer with Vodafone Ireland. “This nationwide upgrade will particularly benefit rural areas of the southeast and the business community across the region as it is bringing data services to a wider catchment area.”
Businesses across a variety of different sectors are already reaping the benefits of the newly enhanced services. “Mobile data services are a hugely important part of our industry and the work that we do at the hotel,” says Hotel Kilkenny manager David Byrne. “Mobile technology allows simple tasks such as making an online booking possible which is very appealing to our customers. The simplicity and efficiency that these services provide encourages customers to return to a region and I’m optimistic that availability of these services across the county will be hugely beneficial to indigenous Kilkenny businesses.”
In nearby Carlow the Keenan Group, one of the world’s foremost livestock feed efficiency experts, relies heavily on mobile data services for its business. “Mobile data services are critical for the services we provide at Keenans as we now use mobile applications to monitor farm feed conversion metrics with our systems, connecting the farmer to us wirelessly, allowing for seamless and convenient integration,” explains Conan Condon, Keenan Group IT manager. “Mobile technology has allowed us to expand into global markets and placed us in a leading market position, and now with enhanced data coverage across the county, we will start to see innovative and indigenous Carlow businesses expanding and growing in their sectors.”
Clonmel Healthcare finds the new technology especially beneficial to its mobile sales team. The company manufactures and supplies prescription and non-prescription drugs for the domestic and international markets and relies heavily on mobile data services.
“Mobile data services have become critical for the day to day running of our business,” says Kieran Mulhall, director of operations with the company. “For example, we have a large sales team who need to stay connected while away from the office. It is hugely important from a customer service perspective as our sales and medical teams are constantly in a position to get the most up-to-date information on medical products, order tracking, etc when dealing with our customers. Now with enhanced data coverage across the region, we will start to see innovative and indigenous local businesses expanding and growing in these sectors.”
Another firm with a reliance on the mobility of its workforce is the Roche Logistics Group in Rosslare and mobile data connections have now become a central part of the business according to chief executive Damien Roche. “Everything from tracking and confirming deliveries to taking and placing orders, even tracking our drivers, is possible through mobile data connections. The enhancement of these services is a very exciting prospect for local customers and businesses.”
And retailers are garnering benefits from the service improvements as well. Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford based online butcher, thepremiumbutcher.ie, uses it to facilitate higher quality communications with customers which in turn helps with marketing.
“The value of these mobile network improvements in the area is twofold for us”, notes marketing executive Gary Hanrahan. “Firstly, more customers will be able to access our website via mobile devices to order our products without having to be at a desk. But perhaps more importantly, it will allow us to better communicate with our customers and back to our head office – we can upload images of displays much faster, we can update special offers and provide stock updates at a greater pace. The enhancement of these services across Waterford is a very exciting prospect for local customers and businesses.
“One of the most important things we do is work with our business customers to understand their businesses and the challenges they face,” says Kelly. “This helps us devise solutions for them which will improve efficiency and deliver competitive advantage.”
And it needn’t necessarily involve the use of actual tablet or smartphone devices – it is the availability of the data service which is all important. “One of our customers has developed a fully automated milking parlour system,” Kelly explains. “Each individual cow is tagged and the systems they use allow for the analysis of each cow’s milk in terms of quality, fat content, bacterial count and so on. Our data network allows all of that information to be collected centrally where it is used to make the milk assembly and processing operations more efficient.”
Another use he points to is in the retail distribution area. “Another customer is in the business of distributing cosmetics to pharmacies. The day to day job of their reps is to go into the pharmacies, see what they need, get the orders and so on. By giving them greater visibility of their customers’ order histories they can see what sells and what doesn’t and what they should be stocking up on. They can also do individualised pricing for the pharmacies. Very importantly they have full visibility of what they actually have in stock in the warehouse.”
Efficiency and productivity
Efficiency and productivity gains are the main goals according to Kelly. “We work with our customers to help them gain a competitive advantage by getting the most out of the technology. For example, last year we partnered with Furious Tribe to assist customers who want to develop their own smartphone apps to help them sell products and services. At the other end of the scale we have large industrial customers who we have worked with to develop systems which help them see if their plant is running at optimum efficiency. The possibilities are almost endless and we help our customers to explore them.”