Vodafone: Giving small business an edge with mobile technology
Innovation Profile Companies that don’t make the most of mobile technology risk falling behind the competition
Claire Reynolds, Vodafone Ireland small business manager, at the launch of Vodafone’s RED service for small businesses
Business was not meant to be like this. Real businesses are meant to need real offices with real rents and wired connections. And real businesspeople should have to go to the office every morning to sit at a desk before they can do anything else.
But that’s not the way it is any more. Not only are businesspeople not heading to the office in the mornings, they are avoiding having offices at all by utilising the latest mobile communications technology. Rents, rates, and utilities bills are rapidly becoming a thing of the past for this new breed of businesses.
This trend is confirmed by new research which finds that 81 per cent of Irish businesses consider communications and IT technology as a fundamental part of how they operate. The research was commissioned by Vodafone Ireland to gain greater insight into Irish small business trends and reveals that increasing numbers of Irish businesses are embracing new communications technology and the positive impact it has on business performance and growth. Some 60 per cent of them say they are using the technology to differentiate their business from the competition.
The research reveals that investment in communications technology is a priority for over three-quarters of Irish businesses with over half (52 per cent) already using tablets, 90 per cent using smartphones and 38 per cent using managed devices. Significantly, 86 per cent believe that the use of technology within business will increase in importance over the next two years with the take-up of cloud services reaching 60 per cent and mobile data services set to reach 94 per cent.
Moreover, 72 per cent of small businesses said they would embrace technology sooner if they had greater assistance in finding the right solution for their needs.
“We have seen a significant increase in the number of small businesses who not only recognise the importance of communications technology but who are actively embracing it and incorporating it into their strategic business plans,” says Claire Reynolds, small business manager with Vodafone Ireland. “It is not just a case of them using the technology as part of their business. They are using it to change the way they do business.”
And the change has been quite dramatic in a very short space of time.
“It’s quite frightening to think that the first smartphone app was only developed in 2008 and our behaviour as customers has changed quite profoundly since then. Our expectations from the companies we do business with have increased sharply and companies which aren’t seen to respond to changes in technology and keep up with them will lose out and the ones making the best use of it are enjoying a competitive advantage. It is also a case of companies having to do a lot more with less.”
She believes this latter point is providing evidence of the innovative capacity of Irish SMEs. “Budgets are still tight and every business has to do the best it can with the resources it has,” says Reynolds.
“That means they are looking around and seeing what’s out there and being very innovative when it comes to its use. They are using mobile technology to forge much closer relationships with their customers. They are in constant contact with their customers and this takes time, but it is much easier if you can do it while you are on the move. Similarly, the technology on tablets and smartphones now means that you can send professional quotes, brochures, statements and so on to customers from the side of the road or from a café or anywhere else you happen to be – you don’t have to physically go back to an office to do it.”