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An international connection from the southwest of Ireland on Vodafone IE

Global connection in the southwest of Ireland

Summary: No matter where your business is in the world, you have the opportunity to connect globally when you have the right solutions.

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To have a successful international business, you no longer need to set up in a big city. As long as you have the connectivity to stay in touch with the world, your business can grow and be recognised worldwide. Fexco is an example of this and is recognised as one of the world’s original and most established fintech organisations – operating out of Killorglin, Co Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland.

Fexco’s headquarters are based in Killorglin, Co Kerry, and employs over 2,300 people across its global company. Founded in 1981, it now has operations in 29 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, North America, and Latin America. Some of its major activities include currency conversation solutions, retail foreign exchange, international payments, asset finance and managed business services. However, one thing that underpins all of its activities is a strong commitment to next generation technologies.

From the beginning, Fexco has been driven by an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit. This ethos brought the company to new regions and industries of growth, connecting customers with exciting new opportunities. Because of its commitment to partnership and innovation, Fexco has built an international network of customers.

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A global business back by next generation technology

“To be able to run and manage a global business from an IT perspective in the southwest of Ireland, many people might see that as a challenge, but it’s not. It is perfectly possible and we do it every day,” said David O’Brien, chief technology officer of Fexco Drive.

“We are a conglomerate made up of a number of different businesses across the fintech and outsourced business services spaces. That means we need to have people providing customer support services for companies in the Utilities and Energy Sectors and Retail Sector all day every day - we can’t afford to have connectivity issues. The backbone of the technologies we use on a daily basis all come from Vodafone.”

Many Fexco’s employees are based in Killorglin where it has three buildings along with its €21 million Research and Development Centre – which also houses the RDI (Research, Development, and Innovation) Hub – which opened in February 2020. At any given time, Fexco has between 300 and 400 people answering calls, all routed using the internet telephony.

Man working on laptop from home studio with baby daughter on lap

“Connectivity is the backbone of what we’re doing here, and we get that from Vodafone. Our customer support services centre operates using a specialist software platform and underneath that, powering everything we do, is Vodafone’s Business Global SIP product,” said O’Brien.

“To date, the system has worked seamlessly and we haven’t faced any challenges as a result of being located where we are. We operate across multiple buildings located a small distance from each other and we manage that network using cloud technologies.”

Introducing remote work and adopting a hybrid work model

Like many other companies, Fexco introduced remote work in 2020 and now follows a hybrid work model. At the time, the company was well-placed to do so because of the way its technology was structured.

“Adapting to the pandemic went exceptionally smoothly. We had just rolled out Office 365 eight months before the pandemic so everyone was already familiar with it. We just added Microsoft Teams and sent everyone home with laptops,” he said.

Because the call centre software was powered by Vodafone’s Global SIP product, the company was able to create a virtual customer support services centre with each operator working from home. As office life returned, they were able to introduce a hybrid work model - a blend of remote working and working from the office environment.

“The most important thing is that we have options,” said O’Brien.

Man working on laptop from home studio with baby daughter on lap

When staff did return to the office, they benefitted from Vodafone’s software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) product. This is designed to streamline the way data is moved around and allows O’Brien and his team to combine centrally controlled and managed Wi-Fi solutions, a secure firewall, and state-of-the-art analytics and application controls.

“In our new building, we’ve kitted out the system using SD-WAN technology and we aim to introduce that into all our other buildings in the near future too. That will allow us to manage Internet traffic in and out, so we can dedicate network resources to the areas where they’ve most needed,” said O’Brien.

“It allows us to balance and route our traffic and data flows as best suits our needs. It brings a level of resilience and redundancy that’s really valuable to our network operations centre (NOC).”

Partners with purpose

According to O’Brien, Vodafone acted “very much” as a partner in the development and roll out of all Fexco’s technologies, rather than simply as a vendor or supplier.

Man working on laptop from home studio with baby daughter on lap

“They came in and assisted us with setting up all this and they are still working with us. They’ve been with us throughout the entire journey. They’re working with emerging technologies with us, state-of-the-art stuff, and that can be intimidating. But it’s all gone seamlessly,” he continued.

“We consider ourselves lucky to have them in our corner, and I think Vodafone sees us as a flagship for the southwest of Ireland, demonstrating what can be done with the right level of commitment.”

“There’s a lot of pressure on technology companies to find and retain staff, not just in Kerry but everywhere. We have an advantage because we can offer a better work-life balance. We pay competitive salaries, but we’re located in a place where housing and the cost of living is cheaper. Remote working is attractive to people and even for those in the office, they’re not spending two hours a day sitting in traffic,” said O’Brien. “Technology and connectivity play a big role in this.

“At our offices, staff are 20 minutes away from Killarney National Park and being able to climb a mountain, or for that matter, you’re also 20 minutes away from the beach and being able to go surfing in the Atlantic. You can hop into your car at 4.30pm and be at the beach at 4.45pm. That’s attractive. Who wouldn’t want to live and work in a place like this?”

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