International Cotton Association (ICA)
Overview: Northwest based Not-for-Profit - The International Cotton Association reduces OpEx with bandwidth upgrade. Members benefit from 100% uptime.
Sector: Third Sector, Not-for-Profit.
Solution: Business Internet.
The International Cotton Association (ICA) is the world’s leading international cotton trade association and arbitral body. It carries 170 years of history and a clear mission for the future to protect the legitimate interests of all those involved in the cotton trade.
Established in 1841, the ICA provides a worldwide service for the international sale, purchase and movement of raw cotton between producers, traders and consumers. The majority of the world’s raw cotton is traded under ICA Bylaws & Rules and the ICA has more than 500 members, including some of the world’s major cotton companies and affiliate industry firms. The organisation operates on a not-for-profit basis.
After facing Internet downtime, regular data peaks and with worldwide members relying on the ICA for fast and efficient resolutions to arbitration disputes, the ICA’s legacy Internet connectivity was no longer suitable. The Internet downtime resulted in members not being able to to access the ICA website for vital information and the association was unable to communicate with members via email or audio conferencing.
Robert Jiang, Business Operations & Development Manager at the ICA explains: “Our main duty is to provide a good service to our worldwide members. So we have to ensure that we can be contacted at all times. And with strict response timelines for all arbitration cases, it’s paramount that all communication is timely – whether that’s via email or audio conferencing. With the Internet downtime we experienced, we simply were not able to offer the best quality service to our members. We needed a much more reliable and scalable solution.”
Since the association often peaked in its bandwidth usage, even simple administration tasks such as backup proved to be difficult. In addition, accessing the company network remotely was a real challenge for staff. As a result, ICA began sourcing a more reliable solution provider which could offer the infrastructure and customer service levels needed to enable it to provide a better service to its member base.
"A great advantage of Exponential-e’s Internet service is that it’s Layer 2, which means we can split our connection between multiple services in the future. This will help us to further reduce costs, streamline operations and provide a better service to our members - and this is key for us."
Robert Jiang, Business Operations & Development Manager, ICA
After comparing a number of solution providers rigorously, Exponential-e was selected. Key selection criteria included: technology, customer service, reputation, expertise and price.
Robert Jiang explained: “With the challenges we had faced, we really needed a supplier who could deliver great infrastructure and customer service. The face-to-face meeting with Exponential-e’s technical team at its London Network Operations Centre assured us that it was able to deliver the whole package; reliable high-speed Internet connectivity, coupled with great customer service and expertise. And after speaking to a number of other organisations who all recommended Exponential-e’s services we were confident that they would be the right choice for us.”
Working closely with the ICA, Exponential-e ensured the new Internet connection was deployed timely to coincide with the Association’s Liverpool office move.
The Association’s new protocol-agnostic connection, delivered over an uncontended 100Mbps fibre-optic connection, easily accommodates for any additional large applications or changes in network bandwidth demand. Since deployment, the ICA has enjoyed a 100% uptime of its Internet connection.
In addition, employees can now easily access emails and company files remotely and backup is effortlessly carried out online. Jiang summarises his experience of Exponential-e: “Unlike some companies where you never speak to the same person and you are passed from one department to another; Exponential-e’s approach is very personal, straightforward and proactive. We’re always kept up-to-date and that’s very reassuring as a customer.”
Today, the ICA has a high-speed, low latency Internet service. With Exponential-e’s strict SLAs and robust network, ICA employees are able to communicate effectively with members at all times.
The Association has been able to reduce costs by cutting down on costly worldwide telephone calls and increasing its usage of audio conferencing over the Internet.
ICA now has the ability to split its Internet connection and deliver multiple services over the same pipe - enabling it to further reduce costs and streamline operations.
The introduction of online backup has reduced the time spent on this previously time-consuming administration task.
- Increased bandwidth capacity and performance.
- Reduced overheads with the introduction of audio conferencing over the Internet.
- The ability to converge multiple services over one connection and further reduce costs.