Getting fully connected

Been there done that? By Rachel Bridge

Been There, Done That? is a series from award winning business journalist Rachel Bridge, exploring the most important things you may – or may not – have considered for your business. In this piece, Rachel unravels the complexities of getting ‘fully connected’ to the internet, each other, your customers and suppliers.


Simple in today’s world?


Having the right tech is practically part of the unspoken oath you make when you start trading. If you’re always fully connected to your customers, suppliers and employees, it’s clear that you really do mean business.


And that’s simple in today’s world, right? Especially when you’re starting from a relatively blank sheet of paper? Well, it’s a little more complex than some might imagine.


There are two basic components of being ‘fully connected’. The first is the actual connectivity bit. How do make the right choice when selecting your internet and phone services?


That’s the area Virgin Media Business specialises in. We sell landlines –as well as SIMs for mobile phones - while leading the market with our ultrafast broadband.

How much speed do you need?

Somewhat predictably, our message is: ‘Don’t stint on your bandwidth’. Having enough for everyone in your organisation to do everything they want, means creating an environment in which stuff gets done. And we’ve got plenty of case studies to show how that helps a business #VOOM.


But that doesn’t mean you need our fastest up to 300Mbps connection. For many, up to 50Mbps is enough. We also offer up to 100 and up to 200Mbps connections. And we’ve got a team of people to help you decide which you need.


So, actually, that’s not the complex bit.

No two organisations are the same

Our ultrafast broadband gives you the potential to be fully connected. But it’s the second component - the other apps and technologies you use – that make that potential real.


And this is, undoubtedly, where it things become a little more open-ended. No two organisations are the same.


Most businesses consider their needs for:

  • A slick and fully functioning website that people can access easily on mobiles and iPads, as well as desktop machines.
  • A secure IT storage system to backup your data.
  • A CRM system to keep track of customer details, conversations and behaviours.
  • Social media and at least one tool to help manage it (we’re using Social Sprout at the moment).
  • An accounting system.

And there are dozens of other apps – both relevant to everyone in business and those that are niche to your industry – that need to be considered.

So, how do you go about working out what’s right for you?

Find the right help

‘Our advice is to get some advice,’ says Duncan Higgins, Marketing Director, Virgin Media Business. ‘Take soundings from people around you, especially those with successful businesses. Find out what’s worked for them and why.


‘Or find a local professional who’s up to speed. You might want someone who’s already got clients who are broadly in the same field as you. And who’s also very up-to-date. Because this field moves very quickly now.’


Crack that and you’ll have a route to being ‘fully connected’. Once over the hump of the research, the implementation can be quite simple, especially if most of your apps are located in the cloud.

But, if tech is your ‘thing’, then there is another route – go DIY

Approved Food  was a finalist in #VOOM 2015. What earns the business money is selling discount food that is past its sell-by date, yet not met its eat-by-date. But what sets them apart is the tech they use over their ultrafast connection.

There is no more black box

Last year, Approved Food sold 9.1 million items and founder Dan Cluderay believes the company’s approach to technology has been fundamental to its success:


“At our core, we’re a software development company,’ says Dan. ‘What makes us unique is that we’ve written every single bit of software we use. That includes everything from warehouse management systems to marketing to customer service. There is no black box – we know how everything works.”

As a result, he and his team can upgrade and adapt the technology they use whenever they need to, without being at the mercy of a software developer.


He says: “Because we write all our own software, when we have great ideas, we are able to implement them. Whereas anyone else would have to go to their software developer. We can create exactly what we need – and we can do it quickly. At the start, it was a really big task, and the investment in time was massive, but it has given us a huge competitive edge.”


Obviously, Approved Food is at one extreme end of the spectrum. Going DIY is not for the feint-of-heart. And Dan was, before Approved Food, a tech guy who could code.

But it does highlight how making the right tech choices - so you can be ‘fully connected’ - are vital to making a business #VOOM.

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