Protection 1 Exec Dishes on Managed Services Success
P1’s Les Paul Vernon, vice president of enterprise solutions, gives insights into how the company is successfully marketing services based on security-only network infrastructure.
I recently wrote about Protection 1’s big push into IP-enabled managed services that are facilitated by an advanced network operation center (NOC). What follows here is a deeper look into how P1 conducts a dialogue with the end user about its managed services offering, as well as insights into the need for integrators to establish a playbook to successfully compete in this arena.
As for the initial, all-important exploratory dialogue with the C Suite, think business efficiencies, explains Les Paul Vernon, the company’s vice president of enterprise solutions.
“We come to the table looking and speaking directly with their IT director, the CIO and understanding what is their business objective,” Vernon says. “Nine times out of 10 the CIO or even the CFO’s business objective for this year, for example, is to cut capital expenses, and if there is a shift to operational expenses, look and see what that shift looks like and where are the opportunities to capitalize on efficiencies across business divisions.”
Consider, the marketing department fancies putting in place wireless infrastructure into a retail location so they can improve not only the customer experience, but also receive important business intelligence back from the marketing department. At the same time, the security department needs infrastructure put in place to supplant POTS for fire and intrusion alarms at each location that are costing the company $40 to $50 per month per copper line.
In this scenario, the end user has two separate entities requiring an infrastructure that will support two distinctly different business units. “A network infrastructure that we call a security-only network allows us to reach not only both of those, but also manage and provide service and support on a 24/7 basis out of our NOC,” Vernon says.
Discussing network security concepts and return on investment (ROI) takes on differing emphasis depending on the vertical market. For example, where P1 sees strong adoption to separate networks is in highly regulatory verticals, such as banking, pharmaceutical and other HIPPA-driven facilities. In the oil and gas industry, a remote facility may require a network for specific services in a very small footprint. In retail, the entire infrastructure needs to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security (PCI DSS) standard.
“It reduces that entire PCI burden off of the small retail locations because the infrastructure is already here. So if they are using copper lines to swipe cards on a credit reader and wait for the whole dial-up process, you put it on this network infrastructure,” Vernon explains. “If you want something that is even core critical to the business’s PCI, such as a POS transaction, you can handle it on this network.”
Of course, IT managers are notoriously protective and oftentimes loath to allow third-party systems and devices on to the networks they preside over. How to set their collective mind at ease about security devices that allow for network-based managed services?
“What we do is take the largest elephant in the room from a bandwidth perspective. The best advantage for an integrator is to educate the customer what the impact will be on their network prior to deploying these services that are being proposed,” Vernon says. “They will quickly realize whether or not it is going to [adversely affect their network bandwidth] or not.”
That then transitions into the IT department discussing the potential for establishing an entirely separate management network infrastructure, and the possibility of needing additional staffing. The IT department will quickly realize they can become overwhelmed with the amount of services, technologies and discussion points that need to be resolved.
“They will start throwing up the roadblocks that we already have the answers for,” Vernon says. “So it drives the conversation to an ancillary network that is being supported, maintained, managed from end-to-end.”
This is the territory where a playbook becomes an essential piece to an integrator’s sales conversation arsenal. It’s all about preparation. The playbook should definitively outline the IP-enabled services you aim to propose.
“I would recommend a playbook that understands first, ‘What is the business impact to the corporate network if these services were to be deployed? Because that then lends itself – still in the proposal stage – to the discussion of the second piece to this which is where we are making revenue growth from the managed services.”
Consider: large organizations commonly write large checks for the outsourcing of IT-enabled managed services. Even outsourcing to India still entails a considerable outlay compared to the cost to maintain typical electronic and physical security systems.
Another key piece of advice to integrators is establishing a pilot program to educate the end user. Deploy a very small, controlled environment that examples the implementation of the network infrastructure with the services over laid on top of it.
“What happens is it quickly becomes embedded with IT and other departments of the necessity to have those services once they are fully deployed,” Vernon says.
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