"Our goal is to make this process as flexible and painless as possible," says Tom Welham, vice president of access and video sales in the Americas for Lenel and Interlogix.
Lenel Systems, a part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, recently announced a migration path for users of legacy access control systems from CASI-RUSCO. With so many of these systems still in use, the company’s decision to end-of-life the products has been met with its fair share of anxiety and uncertainty; however, Lenel is confident the transition will be as painless as possible for its VARs and end-users.
SD&I recently caught up with Tom Welham, vice president of access and video sales in the Americas for Lenel and Interlogix, to discuss this transition. Welham has more than 20 years experience — beginning with CASI-RUSCO — holding various sales and product management positions at GE Security and Lenel. Here’s what he had to say:
What emerged as the major concerns of dealers and end-users when you announced the eventual end-of-life of CASI legacy access control solutions, and how are you addressing those concerns?
Welham: End-users are understandably concerned about continuing to provide a high level of service to their corporate community, while protecting major investments in complex legacy systems that often span across countries and continents. Our Value Added Resellers (VARs) are concerned about maintaining long-term relationships with our shared customers.
That’s why we have created a comprehensive plan to smooth the migration path from legacy CASI systems to the feature-rich Lenel OnGuard platform to directly address the concerns of our partners.
What is Lenel’s roadmap leading to the end of these systems, and how will you ease the transition and make it painless for those who still service and use them?
We are communicating frequently with our VARs and end-users — and we have listened closely to what they had to say. As a result, our migration plan has shifted to reflect this feedback. An example was our decision to extend support for legacy Picture Perfect and Facility Commander Wnx systems through 2020. This helped to ease concerns of pressing migration deadlines, plus allow end-users to stay within budget cycles. We are offering remote firmware flash updates for controllers, in-field SIMM chip replacement and panel retrofits using Mercury hardware to take full advantage of the OnGuard feature set.
Lenel offers its open systems to customers through hardware that is supported by more than 20 access control software companies and through software that interfaces with more than 100 third-party partners and more than 200 products. Plus, we are offering free licensing of OnGuard software for end-users on a System Support Agreement (SSA) program. Our goal is to make this process as flexible and painless as possible.
What are some of the biggest challenges in helping these CASI users switch to a solution like OnGuard?
Some of the CASI installations are large, complex systems. We have to ensure that our end-users can continue to service their organizations without interruption. We have to protect their investments in these legacy systems. We continue to engage our customers so that they understand the complexities involved in migration. We are their true partner in this process. And then we will count on the support and assistance of our VARs to make it happen. By working together we will get this done in a way that benefits all parties.
How much of a windfall do you expect to see in helping users of legacy Casi systems migrate to the Lenel platform?
We’re planning a migration strategy to benefit our customers. Our end-users have made major investments with us and expect a long-term relationship. And, it is costly to acquire new customers, so we spend a lot of time nurturing those relationships that our VARs have already developed.
What are you doing to educate the market about the importance of this migration and what it entails?
A big piece of our OnGuard migration plan involves educating our end-users and VARs about the options available to them. Details have been made available at several industry trade shows. We’ve also provided seminars and private demonstrations off the exhibition floor. We have connected with all of our large customers regarding migration options. Additionally, our monthly newsletter regularly contains information about the plan. We have also spent time making sure our sales team and VARs are knowledgeable about the plan so that they can answer end-users’ questions. We will continue to communicate our migration plan and its benefits throughout 2014 to ensure our customers have numerous opportunities to hear our message.
What are the best ways for a Lenel dealer to sell the transition to their customers?
Our primary message has to remain consistent — Lenel and its VARs will do everything possible to make this migration easy and low-risk, while protecting end-users’ current investments. Our VARs can offer incentives such as a board replacement program, total data conversion tools and free OnGuard software with an SSA agreement.
Has this transition had any negative repercussions on Lenel/UTC, either in market perception or among its dealers?
As you might expect, one of the biggest challenges we face during the migration process is fear of change. But we have found that by being open and honest with our customers and keeping them involved throughout the process they want to work with us on the best possible solutions. Customers want to know exactly how and when things are going to happen. Our VARs need those same consistent messages and timetables to be effective on our behalf. We believe that we have the most sophisticated VAR network in the industry. Our OnGuard migration plan will continue to evolve as we work with our partners. But we are confident we are on the right track.