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Keeping Irish businesses connected

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Eavann Murphy, Chief Commercial Officer at eir Business, discusses the company’s rapid return to growth with Adam Morton and explains how eir is perfectly positioned to meet its business customers’ needs.

After successfully exiting examinership in 2012, eircom set in motion a programme for investment in its network which was agreed with the company’s owners. The programme pumped €1.5 billion into Ireland’s connectivity infrastructure including the development of 3G and 4G mobile and fibre networks that run the length and breadth of the country. Three years into this five year plan, the company is now in a period of growth and feels the time is right to mark this new era in their business with a rebranding and thus, eir has been born.

“The brief was to come up with an identity that reflected our more dynamic nature,” said Chief Commercial Officer of eir Business, Eavann Murphy. “We wanted to mark a line in the sand and show how we are now a different organisation. We have gone from being a very large organisation to a much more agile organisation and we needed a brand that would reflect our vision for our company and our country. eir reflects the dynamism of our business today and our vision for the future.

“We’re Irish and we’re here to stay. Our goal is to connect the people and the businesses of Ireland and connect Ireland to the world. We have two distinct advantages over our competition – the scale of our network and our heritage. No other telco on this island has invested in their network like we have and you can see from our launch campaign that we are really proud of our Irishness. In eir Business, we are proud to support over 90,000 businesses across Ireland from SMEs to large organisations and government.” 

Through discussion with its small business customers, eir discovered that lengthy contracts across its range of offerings was irksome and as a result, has removed the need for contracts in both their broadband and mobile offerings for small businesses. “For a lot of small businesses today, cash is king. They don’t have as much access to or appetite for credit as they may have had previously, so it is really important to them to have a flexible telecoms solution that they can scale up and down to suit their needs.

“They don’t want to be tied to 18 or 24 month contracts and we recognise that. We believe our service stands in its own right so we are happy to offer them something different which is a contract free model. This move is completely focused on the customer and ensuring they benefit as much as possible from our relationship. The mobile and broadband market is very competitive so this is how we cut through the noise and show we’re not just the same, we do care and we listen to our customers’ concerns. We’re very confident that if we sell you something you’ll agree we offer a fantastic service and will want to stay with us.”

Listening to customers’ needs plays a large part in eir’s business strategy and is why it has brought new features and support structures to the market, ensuring it is there for its customers as, when and how they need it. Recently, eir has launched its next-generation voice portfolio, including a solution called ‘Follow Me’ that allows customers to have their landline number fed directly to their mobiles, giving users access to their work landline, even when they are not in the office. eir now also offers 24/7 tech support for both consumers and businesses, reflecting their desire to adapt to their clients’ needs and the reality that people now lead 24/7 lifestyles.

Supporting Irish business

The company is in a unique position in the market. It is the only network operator to own both a gold plated fixed and mobile network on a nationwide basis. eir regards itself as the backbone of Irish businesses of all shapes and sizes, from small family run businesses right through to its enterprise and government clients. It offers everything from broadband and voice connectivity all the way up to the most sophisticated ICT solutions and total telecom outsourcing.

“The smaller end of the market is very much served with simple bundles of broadband, mobile and voice. As we move up in scale, it’s all about how we build solutions that are bespoke for very specific needs,” said Murphy. “At the core of that is our data network. There is a whole digital transformation going on and critical to any digital transformation, no matter how big or how small, is data connectivity. Data growth is exponential so our foundation conversation with every single one of our customers starts by finding out what their connectivity backbone is and how we can help them with that.”

In 2014 Allied Irish Bank (AIB) decided to outsource their telecoms service and gave the job of design, implementation and day-to-day management of both their existing infrastructure and future innovation across Ireland and the UK to eir. At present that means looking after their 14,000 end users, AIB’s infrastructure networks and platforms across 1,000 sites, two data centres and two contact centres.

To manage the workload created by one of the biggest deal in Irish technology history, AIB’s entire telecoms staff moved to eir’s Citywest campus. Reflecting on the deal and the challenges of bringing across staff from a different company, Murphy claimed that the key to a successful transition was looking after the people, working out how best to engage and create a solution that worked for them, for AIB and for eir as a service provider.

“It wasn’t a one-off transition,” she said. “We had been looking after the majority of AIB’s technology estate, growing with them incrementally so this was just a natural next step.

“AIB had a very solid relationship with us that allowed them to make this decision and it has been a landmark for us. It is an area we see a lot of enterprises considering as they look to specialists like ourselves to manage their technology. We’re definitely seeing a growing interest in this type of model at the moment.”

Changing technologies

Disruptive technologies like mobile, analytics, cloud services and social media have changed the business landscape over the past few years and eir expects this trend to continue. The telecoms giant believes that many businesses across Ireland are focused on using these technologies to meet their customers’ needs and believe that mobility, a key growth area for eir, will play a key part in future technological advancements.

This development can be seen today in eir’s partnerships with the courier service Nightline and the HSE. With Nightline, eir provides a solution across Ireland and UK that allows their customers to track the delivery van and allows the van driver to find the customer.

The HSE is leveraging mobile for better engagement with patients. One in five appointments are missed in the HSE costing the service around €210,000 per day. To help improve efficiencies, eir now provides a bulk text service that sends a text to patients’ phones reminding them that they have an upcoming appointment. The service also gives the patient a right to reply and inform the HSE that they won’t be able to attend, allowing the service to reschedule, potentially saving thousands of euros in wasted time.

The eir group is a big player in the mobile market with over one million customers and it is continually expanding its mobile operations to businesses and enterprises. It has invested €350 million in creating its own 3G and 4G mobile networks around Ireland and claims that owning both fixed and mobile networks will allow it to offer seamless fixed and mobile convergence.

“Convergence will allow people to use one data network to carry all calls and data,” said Murphy. “We’re seeing a future where data, voice and mobile are carried seamlessly together over one connection – the data network. This opens up a wealth of opportunities for organisations by creating seamless services using a combination of fixed broadband and wireless technologies to drive efficiencies and meet their needs in homes, offices, and on the go. We’re developing a whole series of next generation voice products to enable our customers to take advantage of this service and going forward we will deliver a unified hosted voice product. So today you would have a private branch exchange (PBX) on your premises but our new service will put that PBX in the cloud and allow you to use your mobile to access everything you could on your fixed system.”

Government and telecoms

Murphy believes that the new telecommunication technologies will allow eir to increase its efficiencies and further disseminate its message to citizens. “From my perspective, it is all about how government uses technology to build the right infrastructure and continue to invest to serve its communities,” she said. “As a partner to many government agencies, and through our association with the eGovernment Awards, we’ve seen firsthand that there is a huge amount of innovation within government departments to improve access to information and services online and that’s really encouraging.”

“Governments must always strive to be more efficient and the Irish government is very forward thinking from a technology perspective. They are always under pressure to do more with less and they now need to compete for talent and resources with a market that is now out of recession. I think, much like AIB and other big businesses, they will have to look towards more managed services in the future. They will outsource a lot of that expertise and this is an area we would be delighted to help them with.”

Future

Looking to the future, eir wants to see as many businesses as possible leverage their network investment. Recognising the industry is in a transitional phase now in terms of the digital agenda, eir wants to be there for its business customers, supporting their transformations while also focusing on how the company develops its own tools to its best advantage. “It really will be about keeping eir at the cutting edge,” said Murphy. “We will focus on how we use our own mobility, analytics and social media tools to compete and win in this market place.

“Our network is at the core of connectivity both today and developing what tomorrow will look like in terms of connecting things, people, places and data. It all comes back to the network that will pull that together. On top of that we have the largest engineering force and the most specialised solution consultants. Aside from our network, we recognise the experience of our people and the business care we provide as our core competencies. We offer highly resilient solutions for businesses, served by our own 24/7, ISO-accredited service centre in Citywest.

“If you think about what people want from a technology company in business, they want reliability, experience, competence and a network that works and we have all that and it’s open to everyone. In this ever changing environment one thing remains consistent, our focus on our mission statement, we’re from Ireland we’re here to stay and serve Ireland to the best of our abilities.”

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