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How cutting the wire for connectivity can keep your business running

March 29th, 2018 by Anton Le Saux

A recent event has inspired me to write this blog. It’s something I’ve written about before, but I feel the need to go over it again. Let me tell you a story…

I was at one of my favourite restaurants last weekend with my family; the usual spread of delicious food was weighing down our table, and as we munched, crunched and generally just enjoyed wolfing it all down, I couldn’t help but notice the steady stream of people leaving their tables, exiting the restaurant, only to return a few minutes later. I later realised that the fixed line service that the restaurant’s POS ran off had gone down. They couldn’t accept any card payments so were having to ask people to pay cash. But as most of us don’t carry much cash around with us these days, people were having to trek out into the cold night air to get some money out of the ATM over the road.

Now, as I’ve said, this was a favourite haunt of ours, so it certainly won’t put me off going back, but if I was new to the restaurant and this was my first experience of eating there, then I don’t think I’d go back. That’s not good for business.

This is just one small example of a business not taking every opportunity to minimise the risk of connectivity issues. There was no valid reason why the business owners hadn’t looked in to putting failsafe measures in place before; they just didn’t understand them, they assumed it would be expensive, and they assumed it would be complicated. No one had ever spent any time advising them of what’s available and just how easy it could be. But while I was there, I explained what they could do to prevent the issue happening again and how it would help them protect their business.

How many of your customers are in the same vulnerable position?

The solution I spoke to them about was simple. Using revolutionary M2M (machine-to-machine) technology, the 4G and 3G ‘cut the wire’ connectivity solutions that Zest4 provide, gives businesses continuous connectivity wherever they are and whenever they need it. So, it’s the perfect solution for businesses that operate from varying locations or for occasions where fixed line connectivity just simply isn’t available or viable.

It’s the perfect solution to have as a back-up for fixed line services. There’s a minimal monthly service fee for the cellular connection but unless the failover service kicks in, there are no data charges whatsoever. So, for less than the price of a meal for one, a business can have the peace of mind that should their current service fail, there will be no risk to their operations.

This isn’t just a service that will benefit the restaurant trade though. Look at any business that requires a fixed line to operate. What happens if the fixed line goes down in your office? The opportunities for selling a ‘cut the wire’ cellular failover service into customers already taking your services are endless.

Then there are the new installations. Instead of failover think about instant connectivity. This is critical for customers that want a pop-up office solution, and particularly for businesses moving premises.

Many of us know, from bitter experience, that huge delays usually occur when waiting for BT Openreach to install fixed Ethernet lines. This leaves organisations without permanent connectivity for long periods of time which can have a hugely detrimental impact on their business. But, thanks to Zest4’s ‘cut the wire’ connectivity technology, there is now a solution. With specially developed Enterprise Grade Routers incorporating any number of SIMs from a mix of UK and roaming networks, organisations can enjoy constant connectivity using the 4G and 3G. Not only is this the ideal solution while you’re waiting for a fixed line to be installed, but you can then keep it in place as a back-up in case of fixed line faults in the future.

Now, here’s a recap of another story that I’ve shared before, but which is great example of how M2M technology can help…

A key partner of Zest4 was working with a customer in the North East that was soon to be moving to new premises. They were aware of delays in their fixed Ethernet line being installed so were looking for an alternative solution. Our partner was already aware of M2M and knew that it could be the answer, but the set-up was a little complex, so the partner turned to Zest4 for some help.

The customer used three different data-hungry systems and wanted them to be segregated so they would operate at maximum efficiency even through the mobile networks:

  • The first was a SIP solution which the customer needed to ensure would run without interference or interruption from their other services.
  • The second was a CCTV system which is particularly data-hungry.
  • The third was their day-to-day office system which they use to browse the web, send emails and so on.

To ensure all three systems could operate independently and to maximum efficiency, we recommended they used three different SIMs in the same router which would give them the separation they need. Using three separate SIMs wouldn’t normally be a cost-effective option but our links with the mobile network providers meant that we were able to combine them into one 300GB account to give them a very competitive tariff.

The customer used this service to run their business for almost two months with no issues. But even now that the fixed line service is in place, the customer has kept the router and uses it as a failover service.

This type of temporary mobile connectivity scenario has sparked lots of interest amongst our partners, but it has also been noted as a potential additional revenue stream. Partners have been speaking to us about the possibility of offering a ‘router rental service’. Partners would buy our Enterprise Grade Routers for themselves and then offer them to customers as part of a rental scheme. This would work not only for businesses moving premises but also for festival organisers and other event companies who only need mobile connectivity on a few occasions during the year.

The latest offer we are working on for this service is also something that can be used in the consumer space. We are about to go live with ‘Internet in a Box’. This comprises of a fully configured 4G router that can take over 60 different Wi-Fi connections at any one time, a UK network SIM with a pre-defined data bundle all rolled in to one monthly subscription. This opens the market up even more, think about providing Wi-Fi in holiday homes, offices and homes in rural locations that can’t get a decent broadband service. Pop up shops, taxis and coaches and much, much more.

As well as the positive interest, of course we’ve also had some conversations surrounding concerns. The main concern has been about the quality of the mobile network and what happens if the network goes down. This is always a possibility but it’s something that we’ve planned for by including several SIM slots in our routers. All our Enterprise Grade Routers come with two SIM slots as standard, meaning customers can connect to two different networks if required. We can also offer a completely non-steered roaming SIM which will connect to all the UK networks. Each time a connection is needed it looks for the strongest network. Should that network go down it would simply re-boot and find the next available network, making this back-up service virtually failsafe.

This ‘cut the wire’ technology really does offer customers connectivity capabilities that they never thought they could have. I am incredibly excited for the future of our 4G and 3G solutions and for working with our partners to help their customers and their businesses succeed.

Find out more about our Cut the Wire Connectivity Solutions from Zest4 by calling 0161 956 3355 or visit http://www.zest4.com/m2m/pre-ethernet.php.

Zest4 Ranked 4th Best Performing Company in Megabuyte Emerging Stars Awards Programme 2018

March 15th, 2018 by Mandy Fazelynia

At an awards ceremony in London last week, wholesale communications provider Zest4 were unveiled as the 4th best performing company in the Megabuyte Emerging Stars Awards programme 2018.

Megabuyte-Emerging-Stars_Zest4_Web

The annual Emerging Stars programme identifies and recognises the most exciting, high growth scale-ups in the UK, with revenues between £3m and £10m, ranked according to their Megabuyte Scorecard rating. The rankings are compiled using Megabuyte’s proprietary Megabuyte Scorecard methodology, which assesses companies’ performance against key financial KPIs.

The Emerging Stars Awards programme includes the publication of the Top 25 winners list, and also recognises individual company performance across a number of different award categories.

Zest4 were a newcomer to the Emerging Stars rankings for 2018 and were unveiled as the 4th best-performing company with a Megabuyte score of 96. Zest4 were also ranked 2nd in the Telecoms & Networks peer group and have been highlighted as a top prospect for the Megabuyte50 in the next set of results – these are companies that look likely to exceed the Emerging Stars upper revenue limit of £10m in their next set of results, and, assuming continued profitability, are strong candidates for the next edition of the Megabuyte50.

Commenting on the results, Mandy Fazelynia, Zest4’s Operations & Business Development Director, said, “We are absolutely delighted to be have been ranked 4th best performing company in the Megabyte Emerging Stars Programme and 2nd in the Telecoms & Networks category. The Zest4 team have worked incredibly hard over the last few years to help expand our business, not only for the benefit of ourselves but also for the benefit of our customers. We are highly committed to developing new products and services that enable our partners to offer their end-customers the latest technological innovations and support them in embracing new market opportunities to increase sales. M2M and IoT technology has been a key focus of our strategy for the last 2 years and we are proud to have helped many of our partners to take the leap into this lucrative marketplace. The end-result of the Zest4 team’s hard work has been a significant year-on-year revenue increase and it is fantastic that our growth has been recognised in the Megabuyte Emerging Stars Awards’.

Further information on Megabuyte and the Emerging Stars Awards programme can be found by visiting http://www.megabuyte-awards.com/emerging-stars/winning-companies

For more information on Zest4, visit www.zest4.com or call 0161 956 3300.

The IoT explosion and how it affects what you and your customers do

March 12th, 2018 by Anton Le Saux

This market has historically been known as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications and encompasses services as diverse as smart meters in the home that feedback real-time consumption information to gas and electricity companies, to sensors on cow herds that automatically alert farmers when a cow is about to give birth. The industrial nature of many of these applications mean that the spread of the Internet of Things is less apparent to consumers, but analysts say the global market for IoT was already worth $200 Billion US Dollars last year (2017) and is set to continue to grow at a steady rate.

IoT-Stats-Web

Established telecoms providers are likely to be the prime beneficiaries of this upward trend as the industry’s growth is mainly driven by large scale contracts from governments or larger companies. These businesses and organisations are seeking ways to use this technology to automate operations and maximise their efficiencies to generate cost savings.

Around the world we are witnessing governments investing heavily in this growth as IoT technology becomes embedded in ‘smart city’ projects. One such successful project was carried out in Santander in Spain, where more than 10,000 sensors monitor the city, from traffic flow and air quality, to noise and controlling street lamps. This technology is being used to improve public life and improve efficiencies of local authorities, for example by directing refuse collections when bins are full, rather than at a set day each week or month, to prevent unnecessary trips and expenditure.

Smart-Bin-Sensor-1b

As this technology develops and becomes more widespread, and accessible, we are seeing increasing elements being used in our everyday lives. At Zest4 we have recently used this technology to win such varying projects as smart bins and refuse collection, smart parking solutions, temperature sensors and monitoring for cold storage units, smart vending solutions, to managing the efficiency and maintenance of church clocks – this list is endless.

Smart meters throughout homes in the UK are becoming far more wide-spread. Providing true and up to date consumption data to gas and electricity providers to ensure consumers are billed accurately.

Smart-Meter-Web

The automotive industry is also adopting connected technology for tracking, in-car entertainment and safety features, as well as providing tailored insurance packages to drivers willing to have their performance measured. Other key areas in development are healthcare, retail, security and IT networks.

This channel, in substantial and sustainable growth, is a fantastic opportunity for businesses at this time. We guarantee that most of your customers are realising the benefits of IoT, whether they know what it is yet, or not.  Make sure you are the business supplying them.

If you want to find out more about how IoT could benefit your business get in touch at anton.lesaux@zest4.com or go to http://zest4.com/m2m to see how you can become a Zest4 IoT partner.