Azure security innovation breaks into small businesses

 |   Ashlea Lynch

Person using app on mobile device

New Zealand security firm Gallagher protects some of the world’s most high-security places, from mines to ports and government sites. But what about the local cake shop? When Gallagher looked to tap into the small business market, it needed to transform its customer engagement and management systems in a way that totally blew the doors off. 

With help from fellow Waikato company Enlighten Designs, Gallagher Group is now combining the best of site security with the cyber world. Using cloud-based platform that combines Sitecore with Azure technologies, it’s harnessing the power of data and automation to provide small businesses with exactly the products and service they need – and the most advanced security outside a heist movie. 

Breaking into a new security market (by breaking the mould) 

New Zealand’s Gallagher Group has led the way on animal management technology, manufacturing design and fuel monitoring for more than 80 years. Since it branched out into security in the 1990s, it’s become a global leader in the innovation, manufacture and marketing of security solutions. Leveraging its experience in electric fence technology, Gallagher has developed innovative perimeter, access control and intruder alarm solutions to protect some of the world’s most high-consequence assets and locations. 

However, Gallagher saw an opportunity to offer small businesses the same quality security, whether a farm, warehouse or tyre shop.  To do that, it realised it needed a more customer-focused, customer-friendly platform to enable businesses of all sizes to find the information they needed at a glance, while also providing Gallagher with data that could help it scale up its service to its newly-expanded market. 

As it stood, Gallagher had no way of understanding its customers’ needs or ensuring they were being followed up with in a timely or regular manner by dealers. A small farm in Taranaki would have vastly different requirements and concerns than a university campus in Otago (or New York), but Gallagher’s only visibility of many customers was when they clicked on the website to request an assessment from a reseller. And there simply wasn’t the resource for Gallagher to check in on thousands more individual relationships and ensure they were getting what they needed.    

Instead of the old linear approach, with Gallagher making a product at one end, the reseller in the middle and the customer at the other end, the vision was to bring everyone together in one platform that could provide useful data and insights to make the customer experience even better and, at the same time, add value to the reseller’s business.  

The dream: an online platform that would be scalable, user-friendly and which could collect customers’ information. The Gallagher team could then understand its new customers better, automate service delivery and personalised offers to a vastly larger customer base – and leap ahead of the competition. 

As Chief Marketing Officer Evan Morgans says: “Traditionally the security tech sector has been focused on complex, larger organisations such as ports, mines, universities or government sites. Our goal was to develop a data-driven model that would open up the small business market. 

We wanted to create a whole new experience for customers and dealers. We had to provide an experience that’s different and quite disruptive, and if we wanted to do something in the small business market we had to have the needs of small businesses in mind.” 

And you can’t have a great user experience unless the product is also up to scratch. Like most other security manufacturers, Gallagher’s technology still relied on keypads and a good memory. If you’ve ever walked out of the house and wondered if you remembered to lock the door, you’ll be familiar with the issues faced by many Gallagher customers, who were driving away only to turn back and check if their alarm system had been set properly. Or they forgot their access card or code and needed someone to come to the rescue!  

So Gallagher’s new small business-friendly scheme had another requirement – a platform that could host automated or mobile security solutions, to save customers (and call-out teams) a great deal of stress and time. 

Unlock better customer experiences without a keycode 

Fortunately, Enlighten Designs was just down the road. Having worked with Gallagher for several years, it understood exactly what the mission was. A team from Enlighten moved into Gallagher’s Hamilton office for 10 months as they worked on a new system that would shoot the security business onto a new level. 

The lightbulb moment was coming up with a plan to integrate customer engagement and digital marketing platform Sitecore with Microsoft Azure. That combined the sheer flexibility and user-friendliness Sitecore is renowned for with the accessibility, security and scalability of the cloud.  

“User experience was the number-one non-negotiable. If any decision needed to be made, it had to be the one that provided the best user experience, and putting Sitecore on Azure did exactly that,” explains Gerard Mould, account manager at Enlighten. “It also provides seamless, end-to-end reporting on customer behaviour.” 

The portal was designed to monitor how customers navigated through the sitenot only learning their interests, but enabling rapid adjustments to be made for a vastly improved experience  

“As we were getting more and more data we were able to really see how Gallagher’s customers were behaving on a macro level and make the necessary changes to improve customer experience. For example, if lots of people were getting stuck on a particular form or pages were taking too long to load, we could fix that,” Mould says. 

The next step was ensuring all Gallagher’s core back-office functions integrated with the system, such as its SAP finance modules, as well as enabling resellers to invoice, fulfil day-to-day orders and track interactions with customers so they would know when their next follow-up was due or where issues were at. A mobile app sends alerts to the local reseller whenever customers have requested an appointment.  

And with Azure enabling customers anywhere in the world to access the portal on their phones, Gallagher’s security technology received a serious boost. Enlighten and Gallagher team added a feature to allow customers to switch alarm systems on and off via their smartphones and check the status of their alarms. No more lost keycodes or latenight dashes – but a lot more peace of mind 

Tighter relationships, tighter security 

While still in its pilot phase, Gallagher’s new Sitecore on Azure platform has already transformed the way it does business. With the one-stop portal replacing its old CMS, it can monitor the customer journey end-to-end, from lead generation to nurturing relationships, generating quotes, making sales and providing follow-up service, to full customer maturity. Resellers and Gallagher staff can easily track progress towards project delivery to ensure customers’ needs are being met, working and communicating in tandem rather than a step apart. 

Enlighten’s solution is user-friendly enough for Gallagher’s on-site team to customise and manage on their own. Marketing is now fully automated, sending personalised recommendations that are helping drive new business. A far cry from the old system of waiting for a customer to request a brochure 

“This is our chance to keep ahead of the market. We’ve moved from a static website with brochures to something that will enable us to review the location customers are visiting us from and their customer profile to deliver content that’s really relevant to them,” says Morgans. 

“Now we understand who our customers are, we can interact with them on their terms, not ours.” 

Microsoft One Commercial Partner Director, Sarah Bowden, believes the Sitecore on Azure platform has countless other applications in businesses around the globe.  

“We always tell our partners that we just provide the raw materials for them to shape and create magic with on behalf of their customers. The Sitecore on Azure product Enlighten has designed is already changing the game for Gallagher and we can’t wait to see what else it can help businesses achieve wherever it’s introduced, whether it’s building customer relationships or building rockets.”  

Meanwhile, Azure cloud technology is also vastly improving Gallagher’s competitiveness in the market. Upgraded cybersecurity reduces false alarms, provides superior disaster recovery capability and benefits from ongoing updates to prevent hacks.  

In Morgans’ words: Traditional security systems are easily compromised, but on the cloud they’re able to utilise high-security security solutions that are reasonably low cost for the value they provide. If you’re still relying on the old residential-style security system, you’re going to fall way behind.” 

The ultimate security experience, now and into the future 

Soon, Gallagher’s website will, he says, look completely different to every single customer who visits. 

“It completely flips the old interaction model on its head. That’s the vision for the next 12 months.” 

As automation increases, fewer staff will be needed for the mundane work of managing quotes or monitoring sites, meaning they can be deployed to other value-added parts of the business.  

And before long, small businesses will be experiencing that heist movie level of experience as more applications are added to the cloud-based Sitecore portal.  

This technology already allows customers to set and monitor alarms, and lock and unlock doors all via their mobile phones (“Keypads are a thing of the past”, asserts Morgans). It also calls guards automatically once an intrusion is detected without having to check with the businessHowever, customers will soon be able to take this a step further and view their sites on camera. Not only will this make the process more thorough, intruders will be easier to catch in the act and owners will be able to view exactly what is happening in real-time. 

Customers have told us they want to be informed directly via an app in the event of an intruder alarm, rather than waiting for a phone call from the alarm monitoring provider, Morgans says. “So that’s what we’re delivering.” 

Now property managers and owners will be able to see footage of what’s happening on their phone while the guard is on their way, and thanks to the online portal they can get a full report without even needing to set foot on the property.  

Adds MorgansOur business is built on using world-leading technology that simplifies people’s lives and protects what’s important. The new Azure technology challenges us to become even more efficient as we grow our customer base and utilises the best security available to keep people and businesses of every size safe – now and into the future.”