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Business Advice

Firm keeps its service promise

Ademco Security wants to solve customers' problems in one visit and can now do so using public cloud services
The Straits Times - January 11, 2012
By: Hellen Tan
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Firm keeps its service promise -- PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO; GRAPHICS: QUEK HONG SHIN

Fix the problem in one visit.

Ademco Security Group, which monitors security, fire and other crucial systems for buildings, aimed to do just that for its clients.

The home-grown enterprise felt that having to visit a client's premises more than once for repairs or routine maintenance was not efficient.

But, in practice, the company fell short of its aim.

'Not once but many times, our engineers would turn up at a customer's site without, say, the correct security system layout plan which they needed to refer to,' managing director Toby Koh admitted candidly.

'Nothing irks a customer more than to hear that the engineer cannot solve the problem that day and would have to come back another day.'

Ademco monitors 4,600 buildings here for clients such as the Ministry of Defence, Pinnacle at Duxton and Resorts World Sentosa.

And it used to handle everything with a paper-based system. That was junked in May 2010.

Now, all the documents its engineers need are stored online. They can access the information on the move, using tablet PCs.

Cloud to the rescue

Ademco used Salesforce.com, which provides a public cloud service, to develop information systems for its engineering, sales and project management teams. Ademco has 80 employees in Singapore and another 20 in Malaysia, the Philippines and China on the cloud system.

Its engineers can now call up and view the security system layouts of clients' buildings while they are out in the field. Most clients allow the company to keep a copy of these in the cloud, although some prefer not to.

The system lets engineers retrieve and review fault reports and check maintenance logs and manuals.

On average, Ademco gets 50 service requests a day via its call centre, website, e-mail or fax.

It has about 60 engineers here to carry out repairs and scheduled maintenance and to install new systems for customers.

Manpower takes up the largest chunk of its operating costs, so it makes good business sense to resolve the problem in one visit, said Mr Koh.

With information at their fingertips, staff are better able to solve problems and answer their customers' questions.

There are fringe benefits too.

By putting data on a cloud, Ademco could reduce its own computer servers from 12 to six and redeploy its IT staff elsewhere.

The company saved an estimated 160,000 sheets of A4-sized paper by putting documents online.

Boon to marketing

Ademco's sales people also access information from the cloud. This ranges from marketing brochures and proposals for prospective customers, to the paperwork needed to close a sale and generate a work order or bill.

Customers can sign electronically on a salesman's tablet PC to approve an order instantly.

Last month, its project management system migrated to the cloud too. In this area, processes are closely interconnected and timely communication is important.

When a closed-circuit TV system is installed, for instance, a cabling team wires up a building and alerts engineers to run tests before installing the cameras. Then, they will conduct more tests.

Different teams have to be informed when a job is completed or delayed. Timely communication also helps to manage a client's expectation.

Previously, the staff would have to remember to inform others verbally or send them an e-mail or a document.

Now, reports are logged online and an e-mail alert can be automatically sent to team members.

The company also uses Salesforce.com's social networking tool, Chatter.com, for its staff to communicate with one other, as well as Google Apps Gmail, another public cloud service, for its e-mail requirements.

Data stored on Salesforce.com's cloud service is backed up daily to Ademco's own data centre in Bedok. Should there be a service breakdown on the cloud, Ademco has its own data to keep things running smoothly.

COST OF CLOUD SERVICES

  • Salesforce.com: $1,000 per user a year or $100,000 for 100 users.
  •  Google Apps Gmail: $64 (US$50) per user a year or $11,500 for 180 users a year. Each user has 25GB of storage.

 

 

 

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