Essential Management

Essential Management

Take a look at the elements implemented by great integrators

There are essential elements that great integrators and managed service providers have that set them apart from the competition. These elements can be learned and developed over time. If these elements come together through a responsive and disciplined process that produces measurable results, then you have a truly unique and valuable company. The elements are:

  • Engagement: The three questions of why
  • Shared measures of performance
  • Highly leveraged partnerships
  • Professional disciplines
  • Formalized methodology

Looking at Each Element Through the Lens of an Integrator

Conquest Solutions, LLC was established in 2004 in Marietta, GA, by Rose and Lance Retter. Lance is the COO and has worked in the IT industry since 1999. After studying Management of Information Systems at the University of Georgia and managing the IT department for a publicly traded company, Lance opened Conquest Solutions. His experience in IT and passion for technology drives him to make sure Conquest is consistently delivering the best products and services, including managed IT support services, video surveillance, access control and VoIP phone services.

Managed IT support services. This is all about outsourcing one of the most difficult strategic services that any organization must provide. It is difficult to stay on the cutting edge of technology while maintaining a level of service through highly technical resources. For many companies, it is a losing game. Conquest provides “on-demand talent” providing economies of scale at a lower cost compared to doing it in-house.

Video surveillance and analytics. Conquest partners with a leading video management provider to provide a simplified screen layout, intuitive controls and customizable features that improve multi-person interactions. With capabilities including advanced object tracking, demographics, dwell and loitering, license plate recognition, people counting and others, video analytics can enhance the security, revenues and efficiencies of any business.

Access control security systems. If you need to manage and control who can enter doors and gates to the building or facility, you need access control. Given the number of security threats a business or organization must defend in today’s world, controlling access to your building or facility is a serious concern. Conquest offers scalable solutions to meet ever-changing environments of business from entry level to enterprise systems. The solutions provide flexibility and performance that customers expect from a technology security company.

VoIP phone services. Telecom costs are being digitally transformed and optimized. Conquest offers VoIP, which saves customers money while improving collaboration, boosting productivity, increasing mobility and enhancing the customer experience. Tools such as presence, instant messaging, web conferencing, fax and voicemail to email can become part of a customer’s communications portfolio.

Using Communication To Increase Performance

To support these pillars, Lance has created a core process of engagement with and through his people. He first recognized, from his experience, that the network was the backbone of a company’s infrastructure. If the network was robust, scalable and delivered information at the time of need, it would deliver a distinctive advantage to his customer’s business.

An essential part of that backbone is the ability to communicate. Communication is critical to every business process. In this increasingly mobile world, work phones and cell phones must be seamless, so transformation of the digital network and the phone exchange system (PBX) is also essential.

When applied to a use case, Lance cited the property managers he works with on a daily basis. Their security systems often communicate with call centers that then route to a guard. He is helping with the time -to-value of this exchange by tying the new SIP phones from Zenitel into the PBX. For condominiums and assisted living facilities, he is applying a low-cost door entry intercom system tied to a PBX.

“We don’t like to mess around with ‘critical path solutions,’” Lance said. “Life safety and convenience go together.”

Lance also believes in proactive monitoring at the end point for up-time and performance, adding: “We can tell when a device is registered or off-line. Often we are calling or servicing the client before they know they have an outage.”

End point devices rarely fail because of the equipment. It usually is related to cable failure, vandalism, electrical surges or user error. There are many IT and security installers that claim to provide managed services. But few have the DNA.

“We monitor, manage and then measure the performance of our clients,” Lance said. “Everything we install, we monitor. And then we support the clients and our field technicians through our help desk team of experienced IT Engineers that can communicate online or over the phone.”

To be trusted, Conquest had to own the building. To own the building, Conquest evaluates the existing operational environment, asking the “why” questions that will lead their team to understanding how the building and the network acts as a tool to create organizational value. For property management, the keys to long term success are attracting and retaining the right tenants and making the building more valuable as a result.

“We may not win their business at first because of a competitor’s short-term outlook over cheap devices or services,” Lance said. “But once a customer experiences the low-cost vendor solutions and service, they ask us back in to fix it. We become their outsourced CIO, a trusted partner on their team.”

Building Relationships With Customers and Vendor Partners

A key part of that team-centric culture results in Conquest becoming a part of the budget planning process. They have the performance metrics and how they impact the business. They have the data.

“If you have the right data, you can collaborate on the strategic initiatives that are critical to the business,” he said. “We make them aware of the opportunity and the risk of each decision they make including the way they maintain their systems. Mismanaged networks and devices that are not maintained or measured result in throwing away your investment over time.”

At the end of the day, relationships are formed through consistent meetings, generating interactive reports that show how the building is performing and demonstrating how these services have helped their business.

“We can slice and dice the data to give them a cost, priority, or a status perspective on up-time, cyber intrusions, warranty expirations or the most recent back-ups,” Lance said. “Your investments must be monitored so that budgets can be planned. No one needs a surprise when your reputation and value is at stake.”

Conquest also believes in relationships with their key vendor partners. With communication as a critical component of his company’s value proposition, he evaluates vendors on local response times of their business contacts as well as their technical support. Finally, the vendor must supply a product that factors in the total cost of purchasing, installing, monitoring and maintaining it over time, known as total cost of ownership (TCO).

“Zenitel is a good example,” Lance said. “The number one bottleneck in a managed service program is the inability for your vendors to respond at the time of need with knowledge and experience. Right behind that is the inability to hear, be heard, and be understood when using an audio system. Zenitel is considered best of breed in both areas, ultimately making them the best value to our clients and our business. Finally, the ability to connect easily into a unified communication system through a standard and open SIP protocol allows us to continue to create holistic solutions for our clients.”

Conquest’s journey in constructing a valuable and unique business model is relevant to any service provider as well as to the end users who are attempting to leverage the model for their own optimization efforts. At the end of the day, business is 24/7 and outsourcing infrastructure that keeps it running is becoming essential in generating value to the business.

This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Security Today.

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    September 2020

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