The Carse Industrial Estate, on the north-west side of Inverness, is one of the first areas able to access fibre broadband services through the £146m public partnership Digital Highlands and Islands Project.
A busy trading estate, with a wide range of businesses and social enterprises, the faster, more reliable services are allowing the SMEs to develop their online activities.
The march of technology has always been highly visible in the motor industry. Vehicles themselves reflect our reliance on electronics for safety and efficiency, as well as our desire for gadgetry - bluetooth, sat nav, even apps to flick on the car heating on a cold morning without having to leave the warmth of our homes.
And there have also been changes on the forecourts. Highly focused on the customer experience, the motor industry strives to provide a streamlined, interactive service which is relaxed and straight forward.
The improved technology and faster speeds are taking us towards a whole new customer experience, less office-like and more relaxed.
Jim MacKenzie has been the Sales Director at family run Dicksons of Inverness for the past 18 years. With around 70 staff in both the Highland capital and Forres in Moray, he has seen a dramatic change in the way business is done.
“An online presence today is vital. Our customers now shop in an entirely different way. In the past a customer would come down, walk around, speak to a salesman and maybe buy a car. But the closing ratio was very low and maybe only one out of eight people would buy.
Now it’s our website which is our shop front, and even before people come to see us they know what they want,what it will cost and may even have ‘chatted’ with us online. For those living some distance from the city it’s more convenient to do business this way. We can even look at initial valuations for trade-ins from photos customers send direct form their smart phones.
We are far more flexible and efficient. Twenty years ago there was so much paper to manage. We are heading towards becoming paperless in the next few years.
And significantly, the improved technology and faster speeds are taking us towards a whole new customer experience, less office-like and more relaxed.
We are looking at introducing iPads for staff to use as they walk around with customers, look at cars. We’d like to move on from sitting people at a desk as we put information into a computer.
It’ll be a cleaner, more open environment, with easy, immediate access to all information for sales or aftercare at the touch of a button.”