NEWS10 December 2019

2019 Business Impact of the Year – UK: Populus and BT

B2B News Technology Telecoms UK

At the 2019 MRS Research Live Awards, the Business Impact of the Year – UK award went to Populus and BT.

Populus MRS Awards 2019 Business Impact UK_crop

The Business Impact of the Year category rewards clients or organisations that demonstrate how they have used research to shape business strategy, drive innovation and deliver positive outcomes.

BT wanted to develop a more resilient broadband product for small-to-medium enterprise (SME) business owners. Populus’ initial quantitative survey of 500 SME businesses found that they are reliant on broadband – 49% said they couldn’t last a day without it, and 87% said they couldn’t last two. The research also found that when broadband fails for SMEs, the responsibility for fixing it falls on someone who doesn’t work in IT.

Populus then conducted qualitative interviews, focus groups and auto-ethnographic studies with eight SME managers and owners, and held a day-long workshop with BT’s proposition and marketing teams.

Any failure in broadband was perceived as unacceptable to business owners, the research found – and any solution that required activity from the business owner was deemed unattractive.

The programme reduced six potential concepts to one: an ‘always on’ router that automatically connects Wi-Fi enabled devices to a BT Wi-Fi hotspot or a 3G or 4G connection. It emerged as the best concept because it needed no manual input or device, worked automatically and emphasised continuous connectivity.

The insight programme led to BT’s development of an ‘always-on’ service, 4G Assure, which launched in April 2018. The solution checks fixed broadband connectivity, and if an issue is detected, switches traffic to the 4G mobile network. When the issue is resolved, 4G Assure automatically switches back.

By the end of March 2019, half of BT’s SME broadband sales came with 4G Assure.

The judges said: “In a sector where innovation can be hard to find, insight was used as the basis to completely pivot an original strategy and the resulting numbers speak for themselves.”

Tom Byrd, head of insight, BT Enterprise, said: “Internet connectivity is the life blood for SMEs up and down the country. Our focus is on providing a better user experience for our customers. The immersive research approach that Populus took has directly led to a product that makes life easier for SMEs.”

Gary Muncaster, managing director, Populus, said: “With every project we conduct we aim to provide insight that will deliver impact and we are, therefore, delighted to have been recognised for this for our work with BT. We can only provide this impact because we have great people who are passionate about research and the business impact it can deliver.”

The full list of MRS Awards winners can be found here.