How BT broadband is helping three companies to compete in tough markets, boost reliability and save money.
Case Study 1 – Constructive Learning
This children’s digital publishing company uses broadband to send large creative files from England to Europe· Without broadband, the company would probably not exist
Constructive Learning is a children’s digital publishing company set up by Alastair Gregory in 2002 and it now employs six people. The company publishes a series of interactive children’s learning magazines called Web Land and also creates interactive content for third parties such as the BBC’s CBeebies.
While the company’s headquarters is in Portsmouth, its creative studio is in Montpellier, South of France. This unusual situation arose when Alastair discovered a world class team of software developers based in Montpellier. He was convinced that their talent combined with a focus on the English speaking children’s market was a winner.
He therefore set up a French subsidiary company, acquired offices in Montpellier, and installed a broadband connection for both offices. By creating a fast and permanent connection with broadband, the two offices are able to work as one. Alastair comments: “We are constantly sending large files to each other via email and FTP. Without BT broadband, sending a 50MB file would have become a major problem. Now, it can be accessible on my PC with minutes.”
The extensive broadband capabilities not only make one office from two distant sites but broadband is also helping to create a new market for their products. The Web Land interactive magazines are very much a product of the age where homes are connected by broadband. With a broadband connection, each month’s new magazine takes only a few minutes to download and delivers the equivalent of a CD-ROM program.
Web Land is a unique series of computer-based, interactive magazines for children aged 3-7 yrs. Every month, a new magazine is available to be downloaded, providing a continually changing learning environment for children.
The magazines are full of novel features to engage and enrich the child’s experience. For example:
- Tak and Wak, the magazine’s hosts, even know when it’s a child’s birthday
- There is an email facility for young children who cannot yet read or write
- It uses pictorial images and even a voice recording feature.
Every Saturday there are new activities to download.
Constructive Learning has a number children-focused programs in development which will make the most of the broadband connection. One thing is certain for Alastair: “Without broadband, our company simply wouldn’t exist.
Case study 2 – Rippleffect
Rippleffect rely on broadband to carry out its day-to-day work· Broadband allows the company to compete in a tough marketplace· The company saves approx. £12,000 a year through using broadband
Ben Hatton is the managing director of an extremely successful online agency called Rippleffect, based in Liverpool. The company has been established for over three years and employs 15 people, providing total online strategies and solutions to clients, including website design, eCommerce, advanced web hosting, email marketing and intranet and extranet design.
The company has seen rapid growth over the last three years and boasts a range of private and public sector clients including the NHS, North West Regional Assembly, Chester Race Co, Trade Partners UK and Living Ventures. Ben believes the company’s success is down to the quality of his staff and the company ethos which is to provide a comprehensive, professional and competitive service every time.
“The Rippleffect team work very hard to give the best service possible and our account handlers are the people who do the work, so our customer relationships are very strong. We have worked hard to build up our reputation and are really starting to see the results coming through as our client base expands to national and international contacts.”
Central to the business operations and everything that goes on at Rippleffect is the technology that drives the systems and allows them to work effectively as an online consultancy. The company relocated to new offices 2 ½ years ago and used a leased line from BT for their internet connection. This was reliable, but not the most cost-effective option, so the company changed to a broadband ADSL connection six months later, and have never looked back.
Ben continues: “Broadband is absolutely pivotal to the work we do, as everything is done online – emails, uploading and downloading information, sending designs and work to clients for approval – we couldn’t function as a business without a fast, reliable, constant connection to the internet. Even a day lost would make a huge difference to us.”
The reliability and speed of the connection means that the Rippleffect Team can work faster and more efficiently, analysing sites, competitors and the marketplace they operate in, and researching client projects. Ben estimates that his staff work up to ten times faster than they used to, meaning the company is more productive and the quality of his staff’s working lives are better too.
Broadband hasn’t just saved the company time, but it has also led to substantial cost savings. Ben estimates that broadband costs about £1,000 a month less than the leased line they previously used, which amounts to a staggering £12,000 over the course of a year. As broadband is a fixed cost for unmetered access, it allows the cost to be budgeted for in advance.
All in all, Rippleffect’s use of broadband positively affects all areas of the business and means the company will be staying broadband connected for the immediate future.
Case study 3 - radio2XS
Broadband helps this Sheffield-based radio station achieve 99.8% reliability for its listeners
2XS has existed as a radio programme since the 1970s on a range of commercial radio stations throughout the country, but the webcasting station ‘radio2XS’ began to evolve in 2002. radio2XS is now a worldwide radio station based in Sheffield, and is run by professional broadcasters and programmers with over seventy years’ combined BBC and commercial radio experience.
Their programming is unique – they record their own sessions, actively support good new and unsigned talent, and play them within the context of currently successful, modern stars such as The Datsuns.
This is then all set in the context of 50 years of rock’n’roll - alongside classic Dylan, Hendrix, Sex Pistols, etc. Within 2003, their stream capacity – designed to cope with the number of people tuning in to the station – doubled to 70,000.
This huge listenership of 50-60,000 listeners a week, with 20% coming from the US, tune in because they regard the station as being a fresh alternative to the traditional music played by other commercial radio stations.
According to Jeff Cooper, Editor and Managing Director of radio2XS, the development of broadband has made a world of difference to a radio station broadcasting through the internet. “Without broadband, controlling the signal transmission was a laborious process and extremely unreliable. But since we were connected to BT broadband in December, we’ve had over 99.8% reliability. And of course it’s not just the station that benefits from broadband, but also our listeners – they get a more reliable service if they tune in to the station via broadband.”
The company intends to evolve further through the creation of new, speech-based stations, local to particular cities – with Sheffield being the first. Their BT broadband connection will make the creation process much more efficient, particularly as it will be easier to add those new services. Additionally, the company is going to be broadcasting live gigs from broadband-enabled venues, such as Sheffield’s Leadmill. The mutual broadband connection will mean better quality of sound protection for the listener.
Click here for Part One of the SME supplement >>