How Vodafone keeps its finger on the pulse of business

We spoke to Andrew Stevens, Head of UK Small and Medium Business at Vodafone about the firm’s recently launched Pulse Connect comms solution which offers customisable and adjustable packages for a rapidly shifting business landscape.

We spoke to Andrew Stevens, Head of UK Small and Medium Business at Vodafone about the firm’s recently launched Pulse Connect comms solution which offers customisable and adjustable packages for a rapidly shifting business landscape

However much certain high-profile bosses might demand it, when it comes to working remotely, the genie is very much out of the bottle and is not going back in. And neither, when it comes to the office, are employees. 

The direction of travel for businesses is in working remotely, which brings with it a whole host of advantages in terms of the talent available, right across the globe, and has also brought huge challenges for businesses converting to this new way of working, particularly when it comes to inter-team and cross-team communication, which is now almost exclusively reliant on technology. 

For a company like Vodafone, already a leader in the mobile business telecoms space, it represents a huge challenge and opportunity. 

Businesses of all variations are doing their utmost to keep pace with the options available to them to ensure that their teams are working with optimum efficiency and, in the current economic…what’s the word… catastrophe, debacle?…to ensure cost efficiency too.

The launch of Vodafone’s new Pulse Connect proposition is designed to address those problems by offering a package of solutions that can quickly be customised according to the changing requirements of a business.

Pulse Connect bundles business-grade broadband, unlimited calls to UK mobile and landlines, collaboration (Microsoft 365 Suite), and Cloud calling tools into one complete solution, with one monthly bill.

In addition:

  • Customers can add new users as they need, and Vodafone is the only UK network operator to enable customers to add and remove them without charging a fee.
  • Security features, to help protect employees and data, include Lookout Security for Small Business and Cisco Meraki’s Advanced Security.
  • A package configurator makes it possible for customers to design their own personalised packages, paying only for what they need
  • Customers are also rewarded with discounts and other rewards when purchasing additional services.

Andrew Stevens, Head of UK Small and Medium Business, Vodafone, explains: “We did a lot of research into the small business marketplace and what some of the challenges were or some their points of friction were and where potentially they were not served in the way that they would like to be.

“And what came out to us was the need for greater simplicity in terms of dealing with multiple operators. So, as you go through a period of digital transformation, you must deal with someone for your broadband, someone for mobile connectivity, someone for your digital apps, etc. And when you’re running a small business, it’s quite challenging. You’re dealing with lots of different bills, lots of different suppliers, lots of different negotiations. And it’s hard to reconcile how much you’re actually spending. 

“We found that simplicity is key for SMEs, as is flexibility.  Small businesses will no doubt experience periods of ups and downs and so want to have the flexibility to be able to scale their operations up and down as required. 

“There weren’t necessarily solutions in the marketplace, which gave them that flexibility. There were a lot of question marks and lack of education, understanding or awareness on digital security, and a lot of small businesses through the pandemic were being forced into a digital environment at a point where cyber threats were rocketing. We were seeing at one point about 10,000 cyber-attacks on small businesses per day in the UK with an average impact of about £3,000 per attack, which for a lot of small businesses is a life-or-death scenario when they’re tight on cash flow.”

Stevens goes on to explain how Vodafone tried to respond to those insights and build a proposition which is specifically for SMEs, bringing all their digital needs together under one umbrella – mobile connectivity, fixed connectivity, and then also collaboration connectivity like Microsoft 365, and Teams calling. 

“Vodafone Pulse Connect brings it all onto one bill, which we are the first operator to do,” he says. “It is a flexible tariff in the sense that you can flex up and down on your mobile connections each month without any termination fees whatsoever. So, if your business goes up and you want more connections, you can bring them on it but also if it goes down and you want to take some off, you can take them off without any termination charges. And we’re the only one in the marketplace that provides the opportunity to do that.”

As already mentioned, bullet-proof cyber security is also part of the offering.

“We have enterprise grade security on our Cisco Meraki router, which provides a range of security for our customers, but then also Lookout Security for the mobile connectivity as well. We’re trying to provide an array of enterprise grade connectivity and security solutions, which looks after their connectivity and their data.”

Another big part of the Vodafone offering is help in negotiating the rapidly changing technology needs of businesses and helping them to stay agile enough to transition their offering to where it needs to be.

“The level of digital transformation that businesses were asked to go through, over a 12-to-18-month period was probably about 10 years’ worth.  Massively challenging for a lot of small businesses who weren’t necessarily digitally native. 

“So, what we put in place was our VHub platform, which is focused on helping small businesses with their digital transformation journey, both in terms of providing a knowledge centre, if you want to understand a little bit more about cybersecurity or digital marketing, there’s a lot of resources, webinars, etc., which helps you to do that. 

“And in addition to that you can speak to one of our digital advisors free of charge and have an individual one to one consultation. That then might help you to say, ‘I need to understand a little bit more about cybersecurity’, and you can then go from that into our business.connected platform, which we work with Enterprise Nation on and you get free expert training, either in a webinar, a module or, in some instances, face to face.”

It’s all free to help businesses go through that digital evolution and transformation, getting them to the point where they’re making more competent decisions in terms of how digital technology can help their business. 

The V Hub platform has already helped about 695,000 small businesses, while Vodafone’s business.connected platform has trained over 140,000 businesses to date and has committed to train a further 800,000 small businesses over the next three years. 

“What we’re allowing small businesses to do is configure their own tailored bundle specific to their needs online, get a price point there and then they can tailor and adapt as required,” says Stevens.

“A lot of people that I speak to, from a customer standpoint, prioritise flexibility over everything else at the moment, because it is such an uncertain period. So, flexibility I think, has become absolutely pivotal. Flexibility coupled with trust. It’s about working with partners who they trust because as you’re going through uncertain periods, you want to know that you’re going to get the right support if things get tough.”

The business sector is a big deal to Vodafone, representing nearly half of its revenue, and includes some major public sector contracts, so the commitment is not new or temporary, 

“It is an area where we’ve got a lot of history, and a lot of very deep customer relationships and we’re incredibly proud of the work that we do because we work across an array of businesses whose work really matters from a purpose standpoint such as the police service, Ministry of Justice, etc. Their work really matters. 

“It is incredibly important to us as a segment and as a focus area. If we talk about the SME segment, specifically the small business medium/business segment, it represents about 5.6 million businesses in the UK. Depending on which data you take, between 97% to 99% of the business population, supporting them and helping them to thrive and grow is the difference between the economy working well or not, because they form such a contingent part of it. 

“It’s also an area which has a high amount of digital transformation needs at the moment. And we take that very seriously.”

From Government departments to SMEs, Vodafone’s business offering has established solutions for businesses of all shapes and sizes and in an environment where you now must move fast and connect quick, it offers a significant advantage. 

To find out more about how Vodafone Pulse Connect can help your own SME business visit:

Ronnie Dungan
Ronnie Dungan

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