An independent software vendor (ISV) to Salesforce, a multi-billion pound company that offers customer relationship manager (CRM) systems.
- Reliable broadband connectivity is a priority for a predominately ‘online’ business
- Enterprise hubs provide a base for businesses high-speed and reliable broadband
- Broadband-enabled cloud-based packages allow SMEs to relocate to rural regions, removing employment and spatial barriers
- The more transformative digital resources, such as artificial intelligence, come with an impractical price tag for small businesses
Recap of the business
Cloud Genius offer remote technical support for small businesses and charities across the United Kingdom. The business provides three core services. First and primarily, Cloud Genius are an independent software vendor for Salesforce, a multi-billion-pound company that offers customer relationship manager (CRM) systems. This function involves the implementation and configuration of the Salesforce systems, as well as ongoing training and support.
Second, the business operates a website development and support service. These services enable businesses to manage their websites to meet specific business purposes. The third function looks to integrating IT packages for businesses. This involves fusing software packages, functions and data working together, which creates more streamlined business processes.
Over the past 12 months the business has expanded to a new office space in the Beacon Centre, a enterprise hub in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire. The business employs a full-time developer who helps develop and implement software packages. The owner continues to work both remotely at his home office in conjunction with the new business premises.
Primarily the business operates online. However, the owner encourages the ongoing use of face-to-face interactions, especially through networking events hosted by the Business Network International (BNI). The BNI is a business networking referral organisation, where members meet face-to-face regularly to share knowledge and build stronger businesses collaboratively.
Cloud Genius information flow diagram
Highlighting the internal and external communication flows of the business.
Superfast broadband adoption
Since relocating to the Beacon Centre in Llanelli, the business achieves superfast broadband speeds of 100Mbps for both upload and download. The hub provided Cloud Genius with upfront broadband connectivity and digital infrastructure. The fees for these services are included in the lease for the premises.
In addition, the business continues to pay £150 a month for an unlimited broadband package in the home office. This cost includes the internet connection (approximately £70) and a further £80 in subscriptions for the IP telephony services. The home office benefits from speeds of up to 80 Mbps for upload and 35 Mbps for download.
IT skills capacity
Cloud Genius is managed by the owner and employs a full-time developer. The developer is highly skilled in computing and systems development. Part of the developer’s role involves creating websites and working on Salesforce software, including Salesforce automation and VisualForce. The business continues to outsource multiple technical services to third-party contractors. External support encompasses security and data protection, website management and data backup.
Use of digital technologies
As predominately an ‘online’ business, the core business processes are undertaken using digital technologies, which are largely operated and stored through cloud-based packages. For data storage, Cloud Genius continues to use Dropbox, but to a lesser extent. Instead, the business is transitioning over to SharePoint and OneDrive. The reasons for this move include better security (Data protection approved), greater flexibility when selecting files to synchronise and a more user friendly interface.
Cloud Genius is contemplating the strengths and weaknesses of encompassing Salesforce’s automated intelligence (AI) programme, Einstein. The top-tier package uses algorithms to test for risks, providing real time advice to clients. However, full use of the AI technology comes with a high price tag with a £10,000 entry fee and additional subscription costs on top. Instead, the businesses is using elements of the base AI product, which provides functions such as detecting duplicates.
In addition to Salesforce, Cloud Genius works with third-parties to implement Xero/Quickbooks integration with Salesforce, project management systems (such as Aprika-Mission control), data collection and data processing tools, as well as Email, contact, calendaring synchronisation (Microsoft Office 365 now sourced through Inti).
Customer relationship management
Over the past 12 months the business has moved its CRM and promotions from MailChimp to a similar product, Campaignmonitor. The reason for this move relaters to greater compatibility with Salesforce, as well as providing a high quality and better information about clients.
An additional use of digital technologies is in the development of a Training Club. The training is centred on providing training events for entrepreneurs in West Wales and beyond.
Reliable connectivity is essential for the businesses operations. As the owner explains:
Prior to superfast connectivity, there were occasions that the lack of reliable bandwidth caused problems for the business. If the connection was lost meetings would be postponed and everyday processes took more time. For example, website development was a lot more time consuming because the business would develop the websites locally and then transfer the data to the cloud when high speed connectivity was available.
Moreover, Cloud Genius struggled to make online calls, hampered by a five second lag when delivering remote connections. Barriers stemming from these connectivity problems include lost clients and an inability to gain new ones.
However, the business now benefits from a reliable superfast fixed-broadband connection. Incremental benefits include higher speeds when downloading or uploading very large files. Additionally, online training can be delivered professionally and efficiently, without fear of a drop in the internet connection.
More substantially, having a reliable connection enables Cloud Genius to operate from a rural Welsh location. By accessing the business services via the Cloud then the business is afforded a choice of location, removing removing employment and spatial barriers on a rural West Wales location.