Remote monitoring in a socially distanced world
Remote monitoring is more critical and valuable for integrators than ever before, argues Nicolai Landschultz, managing director at IndigoZest, who recently incorporated the OvrC remote management platform into his business.
The pandemic has pushed remote monitoring to the forefront of integrator minds.
If you can avoid visiting the client’s house to resolve any technology issues, then, not only are you saving yourself the time and cost of a service visit, but you’re also getting a big tick in the box from customers. Throughout this difficult year, more and more of them have understandably been wanting to keep any intrusion from tradespeople into their homes to an absolute minimum.
Remote monitoring has been a huge asset to our business for sure this year. We’ve been using it to keep all our clients comfortable, entertained, safe and happy with their systems.
Nicolai Landschultz, managing director at IndigoZest
Truth be told though, even before the pandemic hit, we had carried out a major review of our remote monitoring service and decided to make it a big focus for our business in 2020 and beyond.
The more technology is deployed in a client’s house, then the more essential remote monitoring as a service becomes, if you want to build and sustain positive, long-term relationships with your customers.
In the past, and still today, many integrators feel guilty about charging for post-installation service, having just installed an integrated system worth in the tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds. But, in our view, there are just so many variables with integration that this is just no longer a viable approach to take, and certainly not in a post-COVID world.
Remote monitoring provides the customer with a level of service that means that they don’t have to worry about being without the internet for a day, not being able to watch TV when the Sky box is down (how often does that happen?) or when an automatic software update compromises equipment reliability. In these situations, it’s just not possible for us integrators to find the time to come out and fix these types of problem – either for free or on a cost per visit basis. They just have to be handled remotely. That’s a no-brainer and it has to be a chargeable service under a service agreement.
When you go through this thought process, it’s important to work out how to make that efficient. For the client, the cost must be low enough that the customer is willing to pay for it, but at the same time at a price that allows the integrator to deliver the right level of support, profitably.
This is where a reliable remote management platform comes into play. We need to have the capability of seeing what is happening not just in one customer’s property, but a fully and easily scalable solution that allows us to manage multiple sites remotely.
Whilst a certain amount of remote monitoring can be achieved over a VPN connection to customers' houses using existing services, these can quickly become unmanageable and expensive, especially when you start having multiple sites to monitor. They’re also unlikely to provide you with enough insight into what is going on in the system.
OvrC Client Services commands
Earlier this year, we were on a legacy subscription with a service provider, which required us to buy the remote monitoring hardware and pay for an annual license fee for every site. This recurring cost model is just not sustainable, the more successful you become as a business, and the more sites we have to manage. It’s also an unnecessarily awkward conversation to have with the customer, if we decide to pass that cost on.
As a Control4 partner, we became aware of OvrC when the company merged with SnapAV last year. OvrC dominates the remote management market in the US, with more than 1.5 million devices registered at around 350,000 locations with 15,000+ dealers. It has been quickly growing in popularity across the world since its recent expansion outside of the US.
A key feature of OvrC is that there is no recurring software cost or signup fee. Dealers purchase and install an OvrC Pro Hub or an OvrC enabled network, such as Araknis, and that is the only outlay. The cost of the hub for the dealer - which is less than £200 - can be incorporated into customer service packages, resulting in no disruption or extra cost to the client. OvrC has also recently received its most significant update ever and offers faster navigation, a full featured mobile app and an expanded ecosystem. These features build a platform that we and our customers can put our trust in, whilst having the confidence that it will only get better.
Aside from the cost and performance benefits, we knew that because it’s from the SnapAV suite, there would be tighter integration with the Control4 systems that we deploy for our customers. Where we’re using Araknis, it’s also saved more time and cost as it's built into the Araknis router already, so, in those cases, there's no extra hardware to put out onsite as well. But, it’s not just about new customers, as we’ve migrated many of our existing service contracts to this new platform and it’s all been very straightforward and efficient, with minimal time on site, which has been great for our customers.
With the level of remote diagnostics that we now have we can solve problems, reboot devices and fix issues in 95% of cases. We can provide regular reports about what we’re doing on our customers’ behalf, without them even noticing, which is also very welcome and appreciated.
Ultimately, remote monitoring in this way makes perfect sense for both us and our customers. As soon as you explain what can be achieved with a platform like OvrC, then customers get how it can save them money compared to having to pay for emergency call outs or fixes when the system might simply need a reboot or firmware update. It also buys peace of mind, all the time. For us as a business, it generates recurring revenue that goes straight to the bottom line.
We’ve had nothing but positive feedback from our customers, especially now, when there is so much more sensitivity about engineers visiting properties.
Whether you are a small company or a large integration firm, you can provide a high standard of service and support to your customers, and at the end of the day, that’s what we are all striving to achieve in this industry.
I believe that all integrators should be providing remote management and, in my view, OvrC is the platform to use. For integrators who haven’t bought into the concept of remote monitoring, then I’ve got just one simple question:
Why on earth haven’t you?
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