Product support from the source
October 18, 2023 By James Careless
Because security is at the heart of their responsibilities, CSOs, facility managers, integrators/installers, and security directors pride themselves on being the “go-to” sources for this expertise.
But sometimes the complexity of today’s security systems can be daunting. This is why the professional support services offered by many security manufacturers and suppliers can be a welcome resource to these groups, and an essential part of today’s security ecosystem.
What they offer
AMAG Technology, Milestone Systems and Motorola Solutions are three examples of security vendors who provide professional services support to the integrators who install their products, along with the customers who use them.
Addy Burry, senior director, customer experience, Motorola Solutions, says the company provides a range of such services. “We offer site audits, network analysis, software optimization and upgrade support for our integrators to sell to our end customers. We offer this on our camera and video management solutions,” says Burry. “Our technicians work internally with the teams that manufacture and support our systems to unlock the full potential of our software offerings. They have inside information into best practices and architecture that supplement our integrators vast field knowledge.”
Milestone also “provides a broad spectrum of professional services,” says Peter Lintzeris, the company’s director of sales for Canada, “including conducting customized training sessions, upgrading existing software to the latest releases, installing our VMS (video management systems) in new environments, migrating our legacy systems to our latest generation platform, and conducting comprehensive health checks.
“End users typically look to leverage our professional services capabilities when they want assurance that their VMS solution is properly configured, installed, upgraded, migrated, and otherwise validated by us as the system manufacturer. In addition, our professional services enable a proactive approach through comprehensive system health checks that thoroughly identify any potential weaknesses or issues in an installation before any system failures or unacceptable disruptions can occur. This gives end users full confidence that their security infrastructure will maintain maximum ongoing performance, stability and resiliency.”
Over at AMAG Technology, their professional services are focused on providing practical and project-specific knowledge. “If a customer is having an issue or has a big project going on, what we’re looking to do is to be a subject matter expert resource for their project team, specific to the technology that AMAG provides,” says Jeff LeBlanc, the company’s vice-president of client services.
“Basically, we are trying to assist our customers with the more complex aspects of installations.”
Where professional services fit into the big picture
While security vendors may all take slightly different approaches to addressing the market through the provision of professional services, the universal end goal is customer satisfaction and comprehensive support.
“Milestone’s professional services fit seamlessly into the larger global security ecosystem by providing genuine, comprehensive support beyond just the core VMS software itself,” Lintzeris says.
“Our services support the hardware and software technologies of the security industry, including third-party cameras, access control systems, perimeter detection devices, and more from leading manufacturers — right up to the point of any plugin interfaces from these providers. If any technical issues or complications arise between our VMS and a certified, third-party device or system, we will immediately engage directly with that specific partner to jointly diagnose and swiftly resolve the problem in a collaborative fashion, ensuring minimal disruption to the end user’s operations.”
Milestone’s expertise is founded in the fact that the company’s open platform VMS currently supports more than 13,000 different devices from more than 3,000 global technology partners. As a result of this broad installation base, “our professional services offer the unique capability to validate, troubleshoot, and optimize systems — thereby providing higher value, lower risk, and greater system support for integrators and end users alike,” says Lintzeris.
As new product sets are introduced or existing solutions are upgraded, keeping integration partners and their customers in the loop is paramount, adds Burry.
“In a company like Motorola Solutions, we are constantly expanding our services in security and releasing new products or acquiring new solutions. The services we provide help our integrators take full advantage of our offerings and make sure our customers have direct access to the manufacturing company during upgrades, installs, or ongoing maintenance. It’s been a winning combination for customers with larger or more complex security needs that go outside of the typical video camera user,” says Burry.
AMAG’s deep roots in the global security ecosystem and mastery of its own products is something it can pass along to its customers. “We understand customer networks and we understand how our application runs and fits on those customer networks,” LeBlanc says.
This is why AMAG’s subject matter experts can help when integrators/installers and end users run into issues setting up SQL (structured query language) security connections to databases, getting their Windows servers configured and online, and obtaining full performance from the type of security components the company provides.
“We are IT subject matter experts and physical security application subject matter experts,” he says. “Our specialities include access control, video intrusion, identity management, and visitor management. A lot of times, end users and dealers don’t have a lot of experience in terms of integrating these features into their server infrastructures and networks as well as understanding how to configure it to get a return on investment from the equipment that they just purchased. That’s where we can help.”
Coping with uniqueness
As anyone who works in this industry knows from personal experience, no two security system projects are exactly alike. This is why technology providers have to be flexible when it comes to providing professional support services — and they are.
“That’s very true; no two projects are ever alike, and we prepare for this by being very agile and by making sure we have the right people, knowledge and experience in-house,” says Lintzeris. “So, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach and relying on a dedicated professional services team, we leverage a diverse pool of more than 40 highly skilled and specialized solution engineers to cover the vast diversity of system requirements. This tailored, flexible resourcing model, with access to a broad set of cross-functional expertise, allows us to provide customized solutions and bring together the ideal combination of talent and hands-on experience to match each customer’s needs.”
Of course, experience matters, and AMAG has a lot of it within its professional services staff. “I have a group of six professional services engineers with more than 75 years’ combined experience in the industry,” LeBlanc says. “Yes, every network operates a little bit differently, but we’re able to use past experiences with other customers to solve issues quickly with customers that we’re currently installing based on our knowledge.”
A case in point: AMAG’s experts recently assisted an extremely large customer that needed to migrate from an existing access control system to a new system that would only retain certain portions of their data — while moving this system from on-premise servers to the cloud. To make this happen, “we provided data management expertise with respect to integrating four extremely large databases into a single database,” says LeBlanc. “We also [configured] devices and set up their cloud-based security platform and made sure that it could talk to their internal security network. We had to set it up so their operations people could monitor alarms, monitor transactions, run reports, and program new locations. And our team did 100 per cent of that: There was no involvement really from the dealer or the end user other than providing us the answers to the questions that we needed.”
Adding value to the ecosystem
By providing a wide range of professional services to the security industry and its end users, technology providers can add real value. They’re doing this by helping to ensure that the security systems in use today work to their full potential. Such success keeps the dealers and integrators/installers they support in the good books of the customers who rely on them. This success also gives end users the assurance that the investments they’ve made in security technology are worthwhile and justifiable.
“We typically use one word when we speak of AMAG’s professional services: Optimize,” says LeBlanc. His company’s goal is to improve the lives of the clients that they serve. “From a professional services standpoint, we are really trying to join our dealers and our customers and become part of their team when they enter a contractual agreement with us,” he says. “We are really, all the time, trying to leave customers better off than they were before they talked to us.”
This “customer comes first” attitude guides Milestone’s approach to providing professional services as well. “Our professional services play a crucial role in validating and rigorously troubleshooting third-party integrations, reflecting a close, hands-on collaboration with our partners,” says Lintzeris.
“Our open, partner-centric approach creates a genuinely unified security ecosystem where components from different vendors interact seamlessly, providing significantly higher performance, reliability, scalability, and ROI for end users. This way, we can remain focused objectively on constructing the optimal integrated solution for each customer utilizing their preferred best-of-breed hardware and software elements.”
It is ultimately about providing support where it’s needed, so all stakeholders can feel confident in the technology they’ve installed, adds Burry.
“We complement our integrators in bringing the best that our business has to offer with technical experts who have extensive product knowledge along with networking and deep system knowledge.”
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