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“BT’s Cloud Contact Centre allows a company to operate a call centre where its agents need not necessarily be onsite – they can work from anywhere where they have access to a broadband connection. It’s particularly effective in providing flexibility and reduced costs – a gaming company, for example, may find it difficult to forecast peak requirements for call centre staff around the launch of a new game. Here, our Cloud Contact Centre offering allows management to place staff on standby and facilitates access to their system by extra agents should the call volume be higher than expected.”

International Advantage For the wider business community, BT’s international network offers a distinct advantage – with the ability to tap into the knowledge and creative developments of a 100,000-strong world-wide workforce, the company itself is more than capable of keeping up with the fast pace of change and innovation. “Because we are a global company, we have access to global products,” Walsh says. “BT is already investing significantly in fibre technology in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Great Britain and we certainly see the benefit of doing the same in other territories we operate in to deliver the appropriate bandwidth that is required for rapid growth. Effectively, customers are looking for innovative solutions – more and more they want the capability to deliver their services through the cloud. With that in mind, our focus has been to remove the need for them to house and build their own data centres or large IT hubs. This allows them to reduce their reliance on a proprietary IT function. By integrating systems from BT, our clients are happy to maintain an IT strategy in-house while at the same time allowing their servers to function in our data centres in Dublin and Belfast where we can deliver services back to them at a much lower cost.” Central to BT’s capacity to deliver its services is, of course, a reliable fibre-based network. Indeed, the success of BTConnect, the infrastructure that supports products like the Cloud Contact Centre or IQ Evaluator – a service that allows IT managers to control their own bandwidth requirements on a range of services including voice, data and internet –

depends on it. Therefore, the improvements in Ireland’s national communications network in recent years have been a welcome development. “Today, bandwidth in Ireland is not a restricting factor for corporate business as it was before, and for consumers, there has certainly been a steep change in broadband availability throughout the country,” Walsh believes. The marked improvements in broadband availability have helped BT to showcase its range of products and services to a wider base of potential customers. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, advancements made in this area have allowed for a more balanced spread of opportunities for large multinational set-up outside of the main hubs of Dublin and Cork. “BT has

“Customers are looking for innovative solutions – more and more they want the capability to deliver their services through the cloud. With that in mind, our focus has been to remove the need for them to house and build their own data centres or large IT hubs.” the unique capability of servicing local geographic network coverage as well as having an extensive global reach. This allows us to accommodate a large amount of multinational organisations that have European headquarters based in Ireland,” he explains. “We can serve European and other overseas networks from here which enables those companies, or indeed any company considering foreign direct investment, to set

up in Ireland and spread themselves into Europe and further afield.”

Dedication to R&D BT’s commitment to innovation and R&D to provide creative off-the-shelf communication solutions is no more evident than at the company’s global innovation and development centre, Adastral Park, located near Ipswich in the UK. However, as well as focusing on the development of products with mass market appeal, BT actively encourages its clients to approach them with bespoke issues that they can solve together – an activity known in-house as ‘Hot Housing’. “BT consistently ranks second or third in the world in levels of R&D investment among communication companies,” Walsh says. “We regularly have customer visits to Adastral Park – seven or eight per day – where our clients can discuss issues that they don’t know how to solve. Together, we ‘Hot House’ the problem – we match the technical staff of both companies in an effort to come up with a viable solution during intense sessions of fact finding and testing. In the past, very often we found that our customers didn’t expect a communications company to offer a facility like this; they were more inclined to turn to large consultancy firms to come up with the answers to issues that they were experiencing. However, in most cases, a technical solution was required, which is what we have the capability to deliver.” BT’s shift from being more than just a telecoms provider has been gaining significant momentum in recent years. It’s commitment to R&D, the Irish business market and to fostering innovation is perhaps most evident in its role as organiser of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, which will mark its 50th Birthday this January. One of the longest running competitions of its kind in the world, the exhibition has thrived over five decades, fourteen of which BT has been responsible for. In that time the company has positioned itself to meet and exceed the requirements of business, recognising all along the increasing importance of its network in underpinning more advanced products and services. In doing so, BT continues to assist the business community in Ireland to compete and thrive in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Silicon Valley Global | 51

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