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Press Release

Growth Returns to Irish Business Agenda

64% of Irish SMEs say growing the business is a top priority according to new IDC research commissioned by Vodafone Ireland

Dublin, 14th June 2012 – New research has revealed that 64% of Irish SMEs say that growing the business is now as critical as reducing costs. The research, conducted by IDC and commissioned by Vodafone Ireland[1], indicates that while cost control remains a key challenge for many SMEs, there is now a significant change in focus towards business growth, with improving customer relationships seen by SMEs as vital to achieving growth in the current trading climate.

The research was commissioned as part of Vodafone Ireland’s wider ‘New Ways of Working’ programme to support Irish businesses by providing insights into addressing current market challenges and sharing Irish businesses’ experiences of implementing organisational change.

Anne O’Leary, Business and Enterprise Director at Vodafone Ireland said, “The surprising shift in attitudes of SMEs from the cost control of the last four years to a wider strategic focus on growth is encouraging and a significant indicator of renewed optimism. Economic factors, evolving technologies and changing consumer trends are driving SMEs to review their business and adopt new ways of working to retain and grow their business.”

The research has highlighted that improving relationships with customers was one of the key challenges experienced by 80% of Irish SMEs, with 81% of workers stating that customer service is a top priority - demonstrating the importance of an SME’s workforce differentiating on customer service.

Commenting on the research, IDC Research Director, Enterprise Mobility Strategies, Nick McQuire said, "There is a growing recognition that technology is a huge lever not only to engage and acquire customers, but also to retain and attract talent and drive productivity. Long-term competitive advantage requires a radical rethink of the existing communications model. This includes a deeper focus on innovation and crucially, aligning communications strategy closer to users, customers and business performance."

However, the research also indicates that businesses are addressing the challenges posed by consumers’ demand for 24/7 access to information as a result of using smart devices - 86% of mobile workers[2] that use smartphones stated that it improved their responsiveness while 77% stated that their productivity had been improved.

Further evidence of the impact changing consumer trends have on an SME’s day to day operations was revealed in that being accessible outside of normal working hours was also found to help workers build and maintain vital customer relationships. Two thirds of Irish mobile workers confirmed that they checked email before 8am and a third after 9pm.

“Working differently and flexibly provides major opportunities for business growth and creating competitive advantage and this is what we are hearing from our customers,” said O’Leary.

Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers, based in Tipperary, has adapted his traditional business to market changes in recent years, “We’ve had to review how we run our business to make sure it’s relevant to this generation of customers and we are now using social media on a day-to-day basis to drive awareness of the business and engage directly with customers. We’re also expanding which means I’m on the road more but I can keep track of everything as I effectively have a desk in my pocket which is invaluable to help grow our business.”

Vodafone Ireland, over the coming months, will introduce a series of initiatives[3] to support Irish businesses and show how technology can enable positive change and business growth. On www.vodafone.ie/businesstrends Vodafone will share its customers’ stories, including Pat Whelan’s, and also publish other useful insights on Irish business trends including IDC’s Whitepaper – Mobility: Putting Growth Back on the Agenda which is now available to download.

ENDS-

For further information:

Darina Sexton, Vodafone Ireland – 087-7753000 darina.sexton@vodafone.com
Eilish Joyce, FTI Consulting – 087-7914641 eilish.joyce@fticonsulting,com

Notes to editors

  1. IDC SME Research commissioned by Vodafone. The research was conducted with Irish SMEs between February and March 2012.
  2. IDC iWorker Research commissioned by Vodafone. The research was conducted with Irish mobile workers between March and April 2012. For the purpose of this research an iworker is defined as someone who works outside their office environment at least sometimes and use a mobile device (laptop, smartphone or tablet device) to enable them to do so.
  3. Vodafone want to recognise innovative, successful and aspirational Irish start-up companies. Vodafone was the main sponsor of the inaugural 2012 Start-up Awards and will roll out a series of speed mentoring events for start-up companies in the autumn. 

About Vodafone
Vodafone is Ireland's leading total communications provider with 2.46 million customers across mobile, fixed line and DSL. At 31st March 2012 Vodafone Ireland's mobile telecoms base was 2.22 million.

Vodafone is one of the world's largest mobile communications companies by revenue with approximately 404 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets as at 31 March 2012. Vodafone currently has equity interests in over 30 countries across five continents and more than 40 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit www.vodafone.com.

About IDC
International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries worldwide. For more than 48 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com.

About James Whelan Butchers:
James Whelan Butcher’s commitment to traditional quality-crafted food shows in its award-winning butcher shop, a family business for over 40 years. James Whelan Butchers source local food from local farms, dairies and artisan makers to bring its customers the unique taste of Tipperary. Every item sold is backed by a 100% satisfaction commitment to its customers.