Adding Value: Internet Service Providers

Graeme Gordon, Operations Director of Aberdeen-based Internet For Business (IFB) says that recent consolidations in the ISP market have done nothing to instil faith in the consumer broadband market.

“Virgin Media has courted controversy over the tightening of its grip on the market, and bad press is exacerbated by the recent scandal over Virgin’s interpretation of the Data Protection Act asking customers their passwords. Seep through into the B2B market is inevitable.

There is no doubt that there is significant market pressure on smaller ISPs, however the trick is to find a niche service offering.”

Pitching against the top five suppliers, IFB finds itself winning major contracts time after time, both locally in Scotland and increasingly in international markets. Most recently IFB have completed the provision of a high capacity Wifi network to a major London business hub and have been awarded a contract to manage a US oil and gas industry service provider’s UK IT network, in a deal worth in excess of £100k.

Rather than presenting a hindrance, IFB’s modest size may hold the key to their ongoing success: “we pride ourselves on keeping services uncomplicated and understandable, adding value through appreciating clients’ needs and building a solution around them.”

IFB has gone from strength to strength since it was founded in 1996, diversifying its business offering and expanding boundaries nationally and internationally. Nonetheless, Graeme insists that smaller ISPs must remain realistic: “Be sure to manage expectations, don’t stretch them too far or you risk losing sight of your core business and offering.”

The overall message is to provide a tailored offering. It is important to be able to differentiate between your various products and services. “The larger suppliers can compete on volume by offering everything in one package but often fall down on quality of service due to the volume of businesses they deal with, however IFB can compete by listening to their clients’ individual needs and providing ongoing support – which is a key differentiator in the current market.”