The Academy of Floral Art is a unique training establishment in Floristry and Flower Arranging, based in Dunchideock, Exeter. Set up in July 2008, the academy prides itself on “providing excellence with passion and integrity” in the art of floristry, and caters to both professional development and recreational enjoyment.
The academy relies heavily on the internet, ranging from answering enquiries on their website to uploading videos to YouTube, so when their broadband connection was boosted by Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) they saw a big change to their day-to-day life. CDS is aiming to bring superfast broadband to up to 90% of homes and businesses around Devon and Somerset by 2016.
Before the Exeter business had superfast broadband, they found even the smallest of tasks difficult. Information from researching would take a long time to download, and drop-outs were a daily occurrence when more than one student was using the internet; also affecting the office above the studios.
Julie Collins, Principal of The Academy of Floral Art, now prefers to work at the academy than from home because the broadband has improved so much. “The new broadband speed has reduced stress and has made the academy look a lot more professional. It also speeds up multi-usage tasks hugely, so office work can be carried out at the same time as class work”.
For the students working on their floral art, the new broadband has meant that sharing their work and producing a portfolio has become a lot easier. Ms Collins added: “Photos are now uploaded to the academy’s shared Dropbox files whilst in class, meaning that the students have a gallery of their work before they have even left for the day. Previously, uploading large volumes of data was extremely difficult, and the students would struggle to share their work online”.
In the past year, the business has grown massively, with superfast broadband helping along the way. A team has now been set up to specifically monitor and improve their social media, so for them to be able to quickly upload and publish information and photos is incredibly important in order to keep the company current. This means that the general community broadband boost around Exeter is also helping, as it is useful to have a fast connection when out and about to make sure everything on the company is kept up-to-date.
Commenting on the community improvement, Julie said: “The business community at Dunchideock feels really privileged to have superfast broadband as it makes our lovely rural location a very desirable place to work”.
Julie is looking forward to expanding the academy further now that CDS has hugely improved their broadband speed. The company cannot wait to see how much their new social media opportunities will enhance their business.
Met Office helps Devon Get up to Speed
At a recent event in the Met Office’s head office in Exeter, local businesses learnt how social media can help then win more customers and grow more quickly. It was run by ‘Get up to Speed’, a support programme of Connecting Devon and Somerset – the council-run body bringing superfast broadband to parts of the region that wouldn’t otherwise be connected.
Kate Doodson, from Get up to Speed told us: “We are extremely grateful for the Met Office’s help. Not only did they provide a fantastic venue but their own social media experts joined us for the day to explain how the Met Office reaches its customers through channels such as Twitter and Facebook. We spoke to a number of businesses following the seminar who can see how growing their reputation using social media can lead directly to increased sales and growth – one flower nursery owner plans to start a blog and regular video about caring for particular varieties of plant, to help establish himself as a known expert and sell more of his own products.”
The Met Office’s mission is to be recognised as the best weather service in the world and it sees social media as essential to making that happen. Its social media manager, Anna Slingo explains: “Using channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube we can position ourselves at the centre of conversations about weather. This helps make sure we are the first resource people come to when they want to find out if the weather will affect their day – from checking they can hang the washing out safely to planning routes for international air traffic.
“It works just the same way for other businesses. If you can put yourself at the centre of conversations your customers are having about your products, it’s much more likely they will trust you and buy from you. You don’t need a huge team, either. There are only a handful of us managing social media for the whole Met Office. It just takes a little effort and planning, but the results can be spectacular.”
The Get up to Speed service provides information on how to benefit from faster broadband, seminars on digital technology, gadget shows and demonstrations. It is running events throughout Devon and Somerset, which you can find out about here: www.get-up-to-speed.co.uk along with tips on how to get the most out of the Internet. If you would like a workshop in your area, get in touch with the team through the web site.
Tim Pestridge is a successful commercial photographer working from his home in Exminster. His clients vary from Local Authorities to national companies with images ranging from commercial products to industrial photography.
Having a reliable and fast broadband connection has become increasingly vital to ensure the business remains competitive. Working at locations all over the South West as well as reaching into London and the South East means that Tim travels extensively as a regular part of the job. Clients have come to expect to see images on their desktops within hours of the shoot, particularly if they are based in urban areas with superfast broadband.
Tim said: “I have joked about having access to ‘village broadband’ but the joke’s on me if I can’t meet client expectations. I can turn images around for my customers to see, that’s never been a problem. But when faced with dire upload speeds of around 0.38 Mbps everything comes to a grinding halt. Maintaining my edge when competitors just 2 miles away regularly enjoy speeds of 40Mbps has been a real issue. I have even been known to use clients’ broadband to install updates, the situation has been so bad.”
Connecting Devon and Somerset reached the Exminster area in December 2013. Tim, unsurprisingly, was one of the area’s early adopters and already it is making a substantial difference, not only to how he runs his business, but also to how he juggles the online demands of a modern family.
With 41Mbps upload speeds, Tim can now get images to clients within 15 minutes if the shoot has been based at his studio. He no longer needs to plan ahead if he needs to download software updates or schedule uploads to run overnight.
There are other benefits, Tim can now provide WiFi access to clients in his studio so they can ping images over to their bosses and check emails while he is working. Additionally, with video becoming a growing part of the business but creating huge files, enabling people to preview footage in HD or high quality is no longer an issue.
Tim continued: “I used to get complaints that film seemed ‘grainy’ and then I’d have to explain that I had to send low resolution footage over and that the final product wouldn’t look like that, but it was hard for clients to picture the difference. Increasing file sizes are inevitable in my line of work so slow broadband was a real headache.
One serious bonus to superfast broadband has been how it has impacted on family life and where the Internet is concerned anyway, Tim is no longer ‘Bad Dad.’
Tim explained: “The difference in broadband quality really is changing how my business and my family life fit together. I get more time at home and I no longer have to shout, “Everyone offline,” when I need to get work done. Now we can all go online at the same time, whether it’s for playing games like Minecraft, watching videos on YouTube or live streaming. There are far fewer arguments!”
The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme will reach 70,000 homes and businesses across the two counties by early Summer 2014. It has currently made fibre broadband available to 16,000 premises.
MazingTree is a Plymouth-based firm established in 2006, which provides IT support, computer, network and telecommunications services for companies in the South West. Owner John Allan operates from a purpose built office at his home in Thornhill Road, Mannamead.
Superfast fibre broadband has proved a major boost for the company’s operations since it was installed in September 2012.
Mr Allan, a former IT manager for the Royal Navy and the South West of England Regional Development Agency, said: “The difference between the old and new broadband services is huge. We used to get download speeds of about 2Mbps and now we see 67Mbps!
“But it is not just about speed. There has also been a big improvement in quality. We are running our own IP (internet protocol) phone system over superfast broadband and providing remote support for our clients when they have computer problems or need to upgrade.
“Superfast broadband has been a big step forward for us, allowing us to work more efficiently and effectively and to greatly improve the services we offer clients. It makes working from home more viable than ever before.”
Further details of the company are available at www.mazingtree.com
From its small Westcountry beginnings some twenty years ago, Halsgrove Publishing has become the major player in the regional hardback market. The Somerset-based company, publishes books aimed at local-interest readers throughout the UK, together with a number of other niche and specialist series.
Halsgrove relocated to Wellington (Somerset) from Tiverton six years ago and had to continually battle with poor internet connectivity.
Managing director Julian Davidson explained: “We had to struggle against slow broadband speeds that seriously hampered our ability to run day to day business functions. Sending and receiving large high-resolution files around the world as well as dealing with several thousand customers was extremely challenging. It also made remote connection to Wellington particularly difficult for our external workers”.
Last year broadband speeds were transformed when Wellington and the surrounding area was upgraded to superfast fibre broadband.
Mr Davidson continued: “Having recently moved from, at times, less than 1Mbps to in excess of 24Mbps we have seen savings in time, cost and sheer frustration.
“I used to receive daily, if not hourly, complaints about locked screens and slow speeds and at busy times not being able to access even basic functions like connections to our bank, but now I hear nothing at all!
“This vital upgrade has made a huge difference to our business. Our outgoing communication problems have been resolved and a major barrier to business expansion removed. ”
Further details of Halsgrove Publishing are available at www.halsgrove.com
Hot Pursuit Cycles, which took delivery of superfast fibre broadband at its Kingsteignton store last year, is finding the internet a big boost to its business operations. The company launched its most ambitious internet venture about a year ago when it created a website www.bikeglovestore.com aimed at selling bicycle gloves to people around the world. It is proving such a success that the firm now intends to set up another website in the next three months purely aimed at selling bicycle pedals.
Owner Chris Berry, who took over Hot Pursuit Cycles 12 years ago, said: “The response has been amazing. We sell gloves to people all over the world. We get orders from Australia just about every day and we have even sold gloves to small islands in the Indian Ocean, such as the Maldives.
“There is a big change in the purchasing climate. The internet has become an essential part of our business and our expansion plans. It’s not just about on-line sales. It’s also an important part of attracting people to our stores. Cyclists can see our range of products and services on the Hot Pursuit Cycles website and we have a ‘click and collect’ facility whereby people can pay for a bike on-line and then pick it up from our store so they have the convenience of the internet, but also get the benefit of the service offered in our stores.
“Superfast broadband has brought major improvements for us. It is far quicker than the broadband we experienced before and that is very important to our business. For example, uploading products and images to our website is far quicker and, of course, with on-line sales the speed of the transaction is vital.”
Further details of the company are available at www.hotpursuit-cycles.co.uk
Somerdale International Ltd is one of the leading exporters of cheese and dairy products in the UK, supplying high quality Cheddars as well as traditional hand crafted artisan cheeses.
The company was founded in 1990 and trades extensively across the US, bringing the best of British cheese to outlets across America.
Somerdale’s IT Manager John Beardon selected the 80MB option as best suiting business requirements.
John said: “We export to over 50 countries worldwide and have permanent staff based in the US and Australia as well as China, which means we do business across the globe 24/7.
“All our staff whether working abroad or remotely in the UK need to be able to access core business data at any time. The improvement in reliability and speed that FTTP has given us has meant we now have a system we can rely on to work quickly and effectively.
“In my role I also monitor and provide network support remotely often from home. With FTTP and the fact that Connecting Devon & Somerset has recently brought fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) to my village, Hillfarrance, I’m able to provide far more effective support.
“At present I’m installing the systems I’ve been wanting to deploy for ages – remote back up, making more use of the cloud and of course, improved remote access. It’s just the beginning though, I’ll be looking at new options and how we can make better use of FTTP across the company.”
Dunkeswell based Blackdown Environmental, offers a wide range of ecological and land based services across the South West and Wales
Their governing priorities are the countryside and getting a job done right, on time and at the best price possible. Over the last few months efficiency at Blackdown Environmental has been boosted dramatically alongside extensive growth, thanks to the installation of superfast broadband as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, which aims to make superfast services available to around 90 percent of homes and businesses in the region by the end of 2016.
Connecting smaller, rural communities is extremely important, especially for small businesses like Blackdown Environmental that rely on the internet for its sales, as well as keeping up to date with crucial information such as legislation and compliance.
Before the switch on to superfast, days at Blackdown Environmental were filled with long waits like information download which also hindered productivity and online payments. The slow connection made simple tasks like uploading documents to servers trying and time consuming. Staff would resort to emailing and resaving which was difficult to manage.
Today, superfast broadband has transformed efficiency at Blackdown Environmental. Staff are enjoying the ‘luxury’ of Dropbox as their cloud storage and the increased speeds of Google Earth and Online banking have greatly improved productivity, communication and day-to-day operations.
Director at Blackdown Environmental, Sonya Raybole, said: “The superfast broadband is quite new to us and we are still discovering new experiences within the business. Our favourite and most exciting yet was the ability to conduct a Skype meeting with our clients which was not possible before.”
The addition of superfast broadband has coincided perfectly with our current growth plans. We appreciate that superfast is both vital to the future of our business.”
Blackdown Environmental works with a variety of clients across many sectors including charitable trusts, local authorities, private landowners and agricultural establishments, delivering a fully joined-up service that fuses ecological consultancy and environmental management, from preliminary appraisal to completed works.
Since it started in 2000, IDN has been providing customers with innovative technology solutions and project management in networking, communications, audio, visual, computing and maintenance services throughout the South West of England. Over the last few months efficiency at IDN has been boosted dramatically alongside extensive growth, thanks to the arrival of superfast broadband provided through Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, which aims to make superfast services available to around 90 percent of homes and businesses by the end of 2016.
Based in Creech St. Michael in Taunton Deane, where they employee 40 people, the company is delighted by the benefits they are now experiencing as a result of their superfast fibre connection.
IDN is innovative in its approach to online collaboration, which enables the team to work closely together from several locations. The company’s headquarters is in Taunton Dean, with another company in Exeter. IDN has grown substantially over the last few years and now has an annual turnover of 3.5m. Improvements to broadband have allowed IDN to expand its business even further, as customers are now able to make use of products and services previously unavailable to them, including smart boards, digital signage and video conferencing.
Cris Cadby, Managing Director, says: “Superfast broadband is having a phenomenal impact on how we run our business. The biggest single benefit is that it means we can now work remotely. This type of flexibility has allowed us to offer a better work life balance to our staff and help to attract and retain great new staff members relocating from urban areas.”
Another benefit is that IDN can now send large file to their clients. In the past, they had to physically post clients a memory stick or DVD creating huge delays. Now, clients can download files from the company server instantly. This means they can provide a better service, which is likely to have a direct impact on their long term success.
“Superfast broadband is transforming the ease with which we can all work closely together. When any of us are travelling or away from the office, we can continue to work just as effectively. In future, it is possible we may introduce more flexible working policies, now that the technology enables us to work just as well from home or on the move. This will generate considerable cost savings over time, as well as save us all time, increasing productivity,” says Cris.
Cris concludes: “Fibre broadband has been a game changer for the company. Now, we never have to say “Sorry, we can’t do that. We can say ‘We can!” With our new superfast broadband infrastructure, we can do just about anything and continue our expansion. It is very exciting.”
Yeovil multimedia company embraces power of superfast broadband
Yeovil based multimedia specialist, Lupimedia, has increased its sales by 15% over the past 12 months, thanks to the installation of superfast broadband as part of the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme, which aims to make superfast services available to around 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the region by the end of 2016.
The day-to-day running of the business has suffered from ‘diabolical’ broadband capabilities in the area, which made it difficult to sustain their technology-savvy business, especially with lots of people replying on one connection.
Previously, staff would often have to wait for others to download large files before attempting to use Skype for conferencing with international clients. Unlike most businesses that focus on download speeds, the upload speed of 1mps was a real setback, with the business constantly needing to upload files to web servers.
Now, with superfast broadband, there is no shouting around the office and staff are able to get on with their day to day work, increasing productivity and improving the day-to-day operations of the business.
“Your time is valuable, so why waste it? We have saved time and money by upgrading to superfast broadband and it has made a tremendous difference to how effectively we are able to work,” said James Ovenden, Director and Founder of Lupimedia.
Superfast broadband now provides staff with great speeds and a consistent service regardless of the number of users online. What’s more, the business has seen a 15% increase in productivity since switching. All staff are able to work on the network simultaneously; download and upload speeds have increased substantially.
James comments: “We are seeing some really special advancements in technology in our industry and faster connections will mean that previously undoable technology is now made possible due to the fast speeds. Software as a service (SaaS) is an emergent growth market, which will soon be the norm for applications as we know them and faster connections simply make this more appealing. Several of our clients operate in this market and fast stable connections will allow this area to grow.”
Lupimedia Ltd is a multimedia communications company that specialises in getting companies noticed. They offer a range of services including creative design and development, website design, apps and programming, and bespoke applications.