DICE Develops Prized Dealer Apps With Integrator’s Input

By Ashley Willis

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — To improve efficiency, cost-savings and the overall customer experience for security integrators, DICE Corp. developed Matrix Tech Service and Matrix Fire Inspection mobile applications.

The platforms garnered much attention at the recent Electronic Security Expo (ESX), earning DICE two 2012 Maximum Impact Awards — Best Accessories & Aids: Dealer Company Software (Matrix Tech Service), and Best Central Station Equipment: Central Station Software (Matrix Fire Inspection).

The Matrix Tech Service app eases the dealer experience by allowing users access to account history records, zones and to-site navigation via Google Maps. Technicians also have the ability to enable or disable installed systems as needed.

Designed especially for fire technicians, the Matrix Fire Inspection app offers a step-by-step progress bar for an accurate examination process. It also allows users to save detailed service tickets and reports, and customize device entry with inspection frequency. Additionally, the app provides a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) form for technicians to fill out during assessments.

Both apps allow for storage of custom contracts with injectable data from an imbedded workflow engine. Users can store blueprints, pictures, security panel technical manuals, and other types of documentation within the applications. The system also is equipped for signature capture and credit card processing for billing.

Although DICE built the program, the idea actually came from Engineered Protection Systems (EPS Security) representatives who were frustrated with their company’s time-consuming process of tracking installation and inspection projects. The 56-year-old security services company provides access control, fire, intrusion, medical alert, video surveillance and integrated systems to clients throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. It also has a UL-listed and Factory Mutual (FM)-approved central station.

“We were originally using a DICE system to create a service ticket,” EPS Security Customer Service Manager Tammie Kooienga tells SSI. “We had to print it out and then call our technicians about the job, who would handwrite it out. If they happened to lose that paper, then the customer was angry. Plus, we had a lot of phone calls going on during the day. For fire tests, we would hand out all the service tickets for a month, which was about a couple hundred sheets of paper. It was very old school.”

EPS approached DICE President and CEO Clifford Dice to see if the company could create a system to simplify the integrator’s laborious process. After sharing ideas back and forth, DICE sent programmers out to EPS’ headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich., for consultations.

“It was quite unique,” Kooienga says. “DICE spent a lot of man hours on our site interacting with the people here to get ideas, when they could have handled everything over the phone. [DICE programmer] Kevin Kilborn came out here about five or six times. He would go from site to site so he could get a visual of what was going on and what our technicians required for their tablets.”

Both the Matrix Tech Service and Matrix Fire Inspection software rolled out in March 2011. About 70 service and fire technicians are using the applications in the field on tablets, while dispatchers, customer service representatives and central station operators are utilizing the program on desktop computers.

Since the systems’ implementation, Kooienga notes that customers are much happier with EPS Security’s service. Prior to using the applications, the firm would occasionally hit a snag when scheduling integrators at various sites. Service managers would place a customer on hold, while they reviewed lists to see who was available for jobs. Frustrated with the long waiting period, customers would hang up, which resulted in numerous calls from the service managers to set up appointments.

“Now the appointment is already in the system, so we don’t need to do that now,” she explains. “It’s going to save us from cancellations because we’re more organized. We’re paperless, so we can organize everything electronically.”

Having EPS test out the systems helped earn DICE the Maximum Impact Awards, according to Melissa Courville, head of marketing and communications, DICE.

“To even compete in this [awards] program, you have to submit a brand new product that’s been deployed,” she tells SSI. “It can’t just be an idea. We had to test it in the field and receive feedback. What’s great about these two products is that it didn’t come for DICE’s mentality, but from an industry mentality, since it’s really EPS’ brainchild.”

The success of the new tools has given EPS a newfound push to create more applications with DICE to help improve business practices.

“We come a great distance in the last year or so,” Kooienga says. “And you know what? We’re coming up with more ideas.”

Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.

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