BT has launched a brand new business division that will provide home office and single office (SoHo) users with enterprise-grade connectivity, support and customer service.
The company says 95% (5.7m) of UK private firms have nine or fewer employees but represent a market that has traditionally been underserved by the telecoms sector.
It says SoHo business have been forced to choose between consumer connectivity services that lack business-specific features and SMB products that are not tailored to their needs.
The pandemic forced many of these microbusinesses to shift operations online in order to survive and reach customers, meaning inadequate connectivity is no longer tolerable. Meanwhile, BT believes there is greater demand for additional services beyond connectivity as these businesses seek growth.
One of the reasons that BT is finally paying so much attention to the SoHo market is that it believes it can meet that demand.
“It’s been a tumultuous 15 months for small businesses,” Chris Sims, managing director for BT SoHo (Single Office Home Office), tells TechRadar Pro. “But many small businesses shifted online to survive and are now looking to use these newly-found digital skills to drive growth. There have been 800,000 or so new businesses created during the pandemic, and we want to support them.”
Businesses who sign up for the SoHo service will receive broadband speeds of up to 900Mbps, while the BT Connect hybrid router will revert to EE’s 4G mobile network if there is an issue with the fixed connection.
BT is also promising “unbreakable” Wi-Fi so it can be accessed anywhere in the home or office, while subscribers can also get a digital phone line that is IP-based and can be accessed via a smartphone. The service layer includes a visit from a tech expert, 24-7 support, and business-grade security services.
“Once your business is online, remaining online is crucial,” adds Sims. “It is comfortably the most holistic [SoHo] package on the market. We’re the only [provider] that offers a money back guarantee and a comprehensive support package.
“The communications side is obviously important but there are also growth opportunities in adjacent markets. We want to move away from a communications supplier into a growth partner.”
A key element of this ambition is the Marketing Hub. As small businesses move online, the need for digital marketing becomes more important. However, BT’s research choses that although 64% of small businesses know this, almost 60% need more support because of a lack of time, experience or budget.
BT’s Marketing Hub is an online portal helps customers identify channels for their marketing campaigns and see how their budget is being used so they can maximise the return on investment. The hub is currently in the trial phase but is set to be rolled out more widely in the next few weeks.
“We’ve been talking to customers for many months and [these conversations] have been used to develop our roadmap,” Sims says. “We have tens of decades of experience and we’re keen to develop things with our customers [going forward].”