Covid-19 has changed a lot about how we all live and work, and one thing it has revealed is just how dependent we all are on technology to keep us connected.
From retail to hospitality, from construction to transportation, every industry needs reliable broadband to keep their business running as smoothly as possible. As more and more businesses move their businesses online, and staff continue working from home, a stable connection is vital.
According to the Connectivity Survey from the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the important role of broadband services for remote working was clear with 95pc of people who are regularly working remotely considering home broadband to be important.
Here, through hearing from three businesses based across Ireland, we look at why reliable broadband for businesses is so essential.
There is no greater benefit of fast, reliable broadband than connecting people. A good connection can bring businesses closer to customers and suppliers, give faster access to orders, and allow businesses to respond to customer questions and website orders within minutes.
For Kerry-based Rosemary O’Connor, who set up her business Killarney Organic in 2017, it was the arrival of reliable high-speed broadband to her area that paved the way for her internet-based beauty business to be born.
Rosemary uses her website at killarneyorganic.ie and her social media channels to help spread the word about her face and body products. Powering this is her Vodafone business broadband connection running into her home in Killarney.
“I couldn’t run the business without it,” says Rosemary. “My entire business is run off my laptop and it’s important to me that I have a reliable and fast connection that is always on and always ready to go. I take my orders in, print off my labels and dispatch items to all parts of the world.”
Rosemary says her office technology makes her business viable in a way that’s hard to imagine without it.
“Throughout the pandemic, the brand has continued to grow largely because of internet sales and word-of-mouth spread digitally online. All of that has been facilitated by Vodafone.
“You physically can’t grow unless you hit the right audiences. I couldn’t really exist without our website, and it’s only been up for around a year, and already it’s performing strongly for us. It’s a whole business that has grown, basically, online.”
The pandemic has made in-person businesses especially difficult to manage. That is why social media channels are incredibly important in establishing and maintaining connections. This is made possible by a reliable broadband connection.
Kerry-native Lily MacMonagle knows that better than anyone, as she set up a full-time performance academy for kids, the MACademy (themacademy.ie), in September 2021.
Opening a successful performing arts school has long been an ambition for Lily, and she’s critically aware of the importance of technology in making it a success.
“We needed to be able to connect with parents to be able to get kids in the door,” says Lily. “For that reason, our website and social channels are crucially important as well as for staying in touch with parents after they’d enrolled their children.”
“We needed to have solid broadband, backed up by Vodafone’s mobile network. For example, as parents can’t come and see a show, we put together three-minute edited videos that keep the parents involved. We use broadcast lists and internet messaging to push these out. The parents love them, and the kids love seeing themselves perform.”
The entire school administration is done from a laptop and smartphone. Lily updates the school website, posts to social media, and manages broadcast lists using internet messaging.
“When we’re not actually teaching classes, we’re conducting a digital business.”
Businesses cannot function and gain more customers without a reliable broadband connection. In the case of Clare Anne Taylor's cake business, it is 24/7. Customers can order from her business through her online shopfront anytime, so it's crucial she has reliable 24/7 broadband to keep up with this.
Wicklow-native Clare Anne Taylor set up her own patisserie business from her home in 2019 where she designs and creates wedding cakes, occasion cakes and confectionaries. Key to her business is the ability to connect and engage with customers through her website, email, and social media channels.
“I need to be able to have customers find us easily and engage with us on our website at clareannetaylor.ie. This is our shopfront, along with our social channels,” says Clare. “Finding customers, and being constantly available to them on a 24/7 basis, is a key part of our business.”
Taylor and her staff rely on Vodafone’s mobile network to connect them remotely when they’re apart, and on Vodafone’s business broadband offering to keep their home base in Newtownmountkennedy connected. The one constant is the need for rock-solid connections. Plus access to a robust public network that allows them to travel to wedding venues without fear of missing calls or encountering coverage problems.
“We actually moved our account from another provider to Vodafone to access a better network. It was also because it was more cost-effective for us. We’ve gained an improved level of service.
“I can access everything I need to do my job no matter where I am and that is really, really important.”
This is why a strong, reliable broadband connection is so vital to all businesses and why breaks in the service can be detrimental. So, what can be done if the broadband fails or is interrupted?
Vodafone launched Super WiFi, a Wi-Fi extender service last year that targets blackspots in the office, enabling customers to maximise the benefit of their broadband from every corner of the office without connectivity issues.
As the nation has relied more and more on WiFi and having reliable broadband connectivity than ever before, Vodafone Super WiFi means customers can set up their offices anywhere. Even in places they couldn’t get coverage in before.
But it’s possible that due to things like adverse weather conditions, construction mishaps, or damage to overhead lines, a broadband connection can go down. But with so much business conducted over the internet, this break in connectivity means a break in productivity.
That’s why Vodafone’s Always Connected Technology, launched in November last year, has created such peace of mind for businesses. It switches business/broadband modem connections to the Vodafone 4G mobile network the second the broadband connection is down. Once resolved, the network will switch back to broadband. This all happens in the background, so businesses don’t have to worry about losing time during the workday.
Reliable broadband connections like this can help businesses become more flexible and more adaptable to staff, customer and supplier needs and be as productive and responsive as possible.
Learn more about Vodafone's superfast, reliable broadband for businesses at the link below.
From e-commerce to cloud computing, the Covid-19 crisis accelerated the need for businesses, large and small, to digitalise their operations, in order to meet the changing needs of their consumers and employees.