While security integrators have become accustomed to offering cloud-based services to their customers, the same technology can be a major benefit to their own company.
For security integrators, there is no doubt that Software as a Service is changing business; in fact, using the cloud to enable access to data and to operate software applications from multiple devices over a shared network is becoming a pillar of successful integration businesses.
While integrators have come to realize the impact of the cloud on their customers, they are also seeing the potential impact of SaaS on their own business operations – as cloud software is fast becoming a viable alternative to tried and traditional ways of tracking field services.
The volume of businesses switching to cloud-based software is indicative of a revolution of sorts, with the days of running multiple systems to handle business tasks like scheduling, invoicing and service management disappearing. Amid all this flurry and excitement, it is quite common for the true value of the SaaS concept to be lost on those who are unfamiliar with this new resource for various field service sectors.
Frank Bauer II, CEO of Proguard Protection Services of Aspen, Colo., can attest to the power that cloud-based software can place in the hands of security owners and operators.
“In the year since implementing cloud software, we have grown roughly 14 percent in sales, 6 percent in account base, and more than 10 percent in overall profit margins,” he says, adding that the company has also expanded its number of employees. “The things that I got from the program were things that I didn’t even realize were needed until they were implemented.”
Here are some of the benefits and concerns that are often brought up when discussing the use of cloud-based software in electronic security businesses:
Efficiency and Connectivity
Cloud-based software brings efficiency for businesses in the job management sector by solidifying connectivity between a business and its employees using products like smartphone applications and scheduling, invoicing or estimating tools. The software fosters workflows that are smooth-running and make the most optimal use of time.
Security technicians with busy schedules – who spend more time out in the field completing jobs than in the corporate office – can use cloud software to instantly keep up-to-date with clients and co-workers. It eliminates the need to worry about where information is stored and how long it would take to reach it, because information stored on a cloud system can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.
Centralized data that is accessible via any internet-enabled device is one of the 21st century’s greatest gifts to trade and specialty contracting businesses. Such connectivity can greatly improve efficiency as field reps have everything they need for a successful service call immediately available to them – they can access customer service history, check information about key assets, schedule follow-up visits, and much more with a tool that fits in their back pocket.
Cloud-computing enables field technicians to complete a majority of their paperwork digitally, meaning that their focus can be on service delivery and customer satisfaction. Using this kind of technology, your field staff is an organized team that can easily and quickly collaborate and complete their admin requirements while still on site with the customer.
The administrative personnel back at the head office are not left out either, as cloud computing enables them to monitor service calls in real-time, schedule and reschedule customer appointments, and proactively plan using real-time data and insights and forecast stock levels.
Cloud software also has the potential to make security companies more efficient by significantly reducing their IT needs, which tend to add up because of traditional software plans that require multiple servers, cables and other cumbersome and costly IT infrastructure. Relying more on an internet connection, cloud software can bypass the need to rely on space-wasting hardware, and focuses more on the reliability of security-based, cloud-operated services.
Uptime, Maintenance and Management
When you work in the security industry, key focuses for the business are asset uptime, management and maintenance.
According to a study by IFS North America, field service businesses are moving to a proactive model of service, which is something that security businesses truly stand to benefit from – the ability to be better kept in the loop when it comes to asset uptimes and functionality, and to be able to approach a customer for asset maintenance before they are even aware it is required.
Security business owners and operators can harmonize digital and physical environments between assets and those maintaining them. Cloud-based software can streamline various types of processes and business functions without the need for multiple pieces of specialized equipment. It can greatly reduce the number of onsite infrastructure inspections, achieve faster response times to security asset failures in the field, and help a business move away from the typical break-fix service model and towards a more proactive and asset awareness based one through the use of alerts prior to equipment failures.
Cloud-based solutions like data feeds are having significant impact on the security industry due to the ability to decrease the time needed to complete administrative tasks and increase efficiency and workload capacity. “Data feeds fade into the background without being fully recognized as an important and interesting component of cloud-based technology,” simPRO Director Curtis Thomson says.
Data Feeds use complex algorithms to draw information from multiple electronic formats, like PDFs and Excel documents. The data feed from simPRO Software uses machine learning to take extracted information from various sources and allocated it to workflows.
The decision to deploy cloud-based software is often delayed by concern for the security of data – especially regarding the ability for hackers or other unauthorized individuals to access a company’s valuable data. The reality is, data hosted in the cloud is usually more secure than data stored in on-premise solutions. Cloud software is typically protected by encryption that can only be decoded with a key – commonly held only by the cloud user and provider.
Knowing this, job management companies that offer cloud-based services invest heavily in suitable security to keep that encryption key out of reach. Without an encryption key, accessing and decrypting cloud-based data requires a huge amount of computer processing power, forensic software, and a lot of time.
It is a common belief that implementing this kind of technology is extensive and expensive; however, IT operating costs are often reduced following the implementation of cloud-based software.
Application providers manage the infrastructure, meaning that businesses can reallocate the resources typically used to manage on-premises infrastructure. The costs for the customer that are associated with cloud technology infrastructure are often included in subscription costs, meaning there are no hidden charges associated with security, infrastructure, or other resources.
Originally appeared in Security Business Magazine.
Learn more about how simPRO cloud-based field service and job management software can help your electronic security business.