In our new Supplier Spotlight series, thought leaders and representatives from Consortium Procurement’s wealth of suppliers will offer insight into their businesses, giving you the opportunity to see what they offer. In this edition, Jon Marshall, Divisional Director for Housing at Securus – a leading provider of Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) – takes us through why securing high quality analogue systems maintenance is a critical, but often overlooked, part of digital transition strategies.
Housing and care providers; industry bodies and influencers; TECS manufactures and suppliers alike recognise that the much talked about analogue to digital switchover is happening. This time it is not 21CN, the previous incarnation of the digital switchover that failed to materialise – this transition is happening now and can be evidenced by the increasing number of first-time failed calls to Alarm Receiving Centres that have the intelligence to monitor this trend. Whilst there may still be ambiguity around the phasing of this programme, the industry appears unanimous in its belief that it will be completed by 2025. Although more education is required across the sector, there is a growing understanding of the risks this change presents to TECS users; the benefits that digital systems can deliver and the need for providers to create and implement digital migration strategies as a matter of urgency.
The industry is focusing heavily on the end goal of a fully digital estate and end-to-end IP alarm delivery. Is it focusing on the destination and not the journey and at risk of not considering the critical steps along the way?
We believe it is.
Digital transformation is not a destination; it’s a journey that may take providers years to complete. Providers will face a number of commercial and operational challenges on this journey and we believe that securing long term, reliable maintenance of legacy analogue systems is one of the most critical.
The Challenges to Housing and Care Providers
- Digital systems can be expensive, especially where Cat5/6 networks are required
- Few can afford the cost or disruption of changing all their systems simultaneously
- Many will need to maintain mixed manufacturer analogue estates during transition
- Transition programmes are likely to take years not months
- TECS manufacturers and suppliers appear to be shifting focus from analogue to digital and their desire to continue to support legacy devices could diminish over time
- Legacy systems maintenance may become increasingly less attractive to suppliers as the number of systems under contract and the associated revenues reduce over time
- The shift in emphasis to digital has already been seen in the market with Appello selling their analogue maintenance business, to enable them to focus on their digital offer
- Analogue engineering knowledge is likely to dwindle in the coming years as experienced engineers retire, leave the industry or retrain to ensure currency on digital systems
- Parts for old and obsolete systems will become harder to source and their reliability will reduce, as components can only be repaired so many times
- Maintenance providers without a defined analogue support strategy will, we believe, find it increasingly difficult to commit to supporting clients through multiyear migrations as parts and experienced engineers become harder to find
- There are multiple solutions for digital systems upgrades ranging from expensive and disruptive, but highly featured to inexpensive and less disruptive but very basic featured
- Each manufacturer markets their system as the best transition platform, but the appropriate solutions will vary according to providers buildings and strategic objectives
- Getting independent advice on what is right for each provider may prove difficult
- New digital market entrants offering maintenance services will probably lack experience in housing and care environments. Whilst they may have the technical ability to fix faults, they may not have DBS approved staff trained in Safeguarding, Equality and Diversity to ensure end users receive appropriate levels of service and customer care
- It is unlikely that new entrants will be able to offer reliable analogue systems support, especially in mixed manufacturer portfolios (Tunstall, Tynetec, Chubb, Appello PBX) as they will not have the engineering knowledge to do so
We believe that finding a service provider that is able to deliver effective analogue maintenance; that is conversant with digital systems; is technology agnostic and has the softer skills to ensure the wellbeing of residents may well be a struggle in the future.
The Opportunities for Providers
Engaging with the right partner to deliver legacy systems support opens opportunities for providers to benefit from more innovative and flexible maintenance services. Suppliers must enable providers to shrink their analogue systems estate as they deploy more digital systems, without financial or operational penalty.
Key outcomes from engaging in this way include:
- Guaranteed resident safety at any point in the migration
- Support for analogue systems for the duration of the digital transformation programme
- Budget certainty, despite a constantly changing set of assets
- Impartial advise from technology agnostic providers
- Protection of investment in legacy analogue systems by maximising their operational life
- An ability to refurbish and recycle out-coming parts and use them to support the older systems in a cost and environmentally efficient way
- Successfully transition from analogue to digital technology
How can Securus help?
The Securus Housing Division consists of directors, managers and engineers experienced in both digital and analogue emergency call environments. Its strategy is simple.
We will work with housing and care providers to:
- Provide the highest levels of compliance and resident safety
- Enable providers to successfully transition from analogue to digital technology
- Protect investment in legacy analogue systems by maximising operational life, through high quality maintenance provision
We believe that successful analogue to digital migration is dependent upon a clear and coherent transition strategy that clearly articulates how the organistation will move from one technology platform to the other and how they will support legacy analogue systems through the change programme.
An example of an organisation that has done this is Housing 21, who are at the forefront of digital systems implementation with over 100 systems already installed and has an expansive migration plan for their remaining sites. Working in partnership with Housing 21, Securus provides critical legacy systems services to support their migration to digital emergency call systems.
Tim David, Property Services Director for Housing 21, writes:
“Securing high quality analogue systems maintenance is a critical part of any digital transition strategy. Housing21 needed a partner that would work innovatively and collaboratively, maintain resident safety, improve quality of service and reduce costs. Working with Securus has enabled us to meet these objectives even though the size of our analogue estate, and therefore the contract value, reduces as we install more digital systems.”