Technology worldwide is evolving at an extraordinary pace and the New Zealand economy is under increasing pressure to keep up with this. Grant Hopkins, Enterprise Director at Vodafone, explains how Vodafone’s new integrated offering can help New Zealand businesses navigate this fast-changing landscape, and use it to their advantage.
The Vodafone and TelstraClear merger has been big news over the past year. So what can the “new” Vodafone offer business customers? We can now offer business customers the best of both worlds – providing a total telecommunications solution that gives them landline and mobile services where they need it and removing unnecessary duplication. In effect, ‘right sizing’ their businesses to help them save costs and improve productivity. A recent report by the UN predicts that the number of mobile subscriptions will overtake the world’s population by the end of the year. What does this mean for New Zealand? Actually New Zealand is already there – with 20% more mobiles than people. We’re seeing phenomenal growth in smartphone and tablet usage in New Zealand – data volumes on the Vodafone network have quadrupled over the past two years. Vodafone is helping businesses take advantage of mobile technology by investing heavily in our 4G network. We were the first to launch 4G in New Zealand and we’re excited about the benefits it will deliver to all New Zealanders. What makes 4G better than 3G? Vodafone 4G is up to 10 times faster than standard 3G. It’s like having fibre speed, but on your mobile and tablet. Maps, apps, email, even HD video can work immediately. So you can imagine the opportunities that presents to businesses. ‘Working in the cloud’ is another term that we’re hearing a lot these days. Why should businesses care? Cloud computing can save massive costs because there’s no expensive hardware or software to worry about. TelstraClear had already developed one of New Zealand’s most advanced data centres so now all our customers can simply move their back end servers to that cloud and pay for what they use. They can quickly scale up or reduce their capacity on demand and access critical data and back-ups instantly in the event of a disaster, which ensures business continuity. Surely this creates security risks? Vodafone has a range of internationally recognised DMZ security products that provide businesses with comprehensive 24/7 IT protection and network security. Some of New Zealand’s highest profile organisations in both the public and private sectors entrust their security to us. Vodafone is also helping businesses improve their customer service with innovative call-centre solutions. Tell us a bit more. There are lots of options available depending on their type of business. They can have contact centres in multiple locations because calls can be automatically routed to the right department. Call centre staff can use different types of communication channels like email and social media to respond to the customer or a call-back option – helping to even out call peaks. We even have biometric technology available that identifies customers by voice only which removes the need for lengthy identification processes. Looking to the future – what major trends do you see coming up that could have an impact on New Zealand businesses? By 2020, another 750 million people will be added to the planet and we’ll see a continued imbalance in population growth as migration from rural areas to cities increases. The majority of this population will be connected to the internet through a mobile device. That means there may be as many as 50 billion devices all connected to each other, offering new types of services and opportunities for people, business and government. As well as being connected to each other, we will have remote access to our machines, helping us to regulate the temperature in our homes, monitor utilities and manage traffic flow amongst other things which will reduce costs and increase sustainability. Can you give us an example of how machine-to-machine technology benefits New Zealand businesses? Smart meters are a good example – they’re basically electricity meters that read themselves. Vector and AMS are currently using this technology to show customers their household’s energy consumption to improve awareness of their day-to-day use and help them save costs. The Vodafone SIM that’s installed in the modem part of their meters allows regular readings to be taken by the meter and sent back automatically to the AMS data management system over the Vodafone GPRS network. Right now there are over 800,000 machine-to-machine devices operating on the Vodafone network across a range of applications – from traffic lights and pumps to automotive, facility and energy management. In fact, very soon, machines will outnumber people on our network. Sounds like there are interesting times ahead for New Zealand businesses. Vodafone is constantly investing in the types of innovations that can help businesses increase productivity, save costs and connect to their customers in new ways – so we’re excited about the future and what it holds for all New Zealanders.
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