ICT Managed Services – a path to digital transformation for the emergency services.

Barry Zielinski, Operations & Services Director at Telent, provides a question and answer session on how the emergency services sector can implement digital transformation flexibly and cost effectively using ICT Managed Services.

1. What are the challenges and opportunities that digital transformation can offer to an organisation?

Emergency services need to embrace digital transformation in order to take advantage of new ICT services that can make their organisations more efficient and help them navigate political, economic, social and technological challenges.

With digital transformation, emergency services can keep pace with the latest technology developments, as well as increase inter-service collaboration which is becoming increasingly important due to changing regulations, legislation and Government requirements. Additionally, digital transformation will change the way emergency services interact with the communities they serve by enabling them to respond to the growth in social media.

However, with emergency services organisations on an increasingly tight budget, implementing digital transformation is no easy feat and, as a result, many still operate on legacy systems. There are also several risks that must be managed, for example, possible network downtime, staff training and balancing any upgrade with day-to-day IT needs. The bottom line is organisations are under intense pressure and technology can help, but support is needed with deploying and managing the technology itself.

2. What are the options for the delivery of technology?

There are a few different approaches organisations can take when delivering new technology. Traditionally, the ‘do it yourself’ method was easier, but is becoming more difficult as technology becomes more complex and wide-reaching. Today, a key challenge is maintaining sufficient expertise across a wide range of technologies that are rapidly evolving. However, this approach still provides organisations with greater control and flexibility.

Another option is to outsource. This approach is great in theory but comes with issues around maintaining control, getting value for money and ensuring delivery meets expectation. A lack of flexibility and the significant cost of variations and changes can be other major disadvantages.

The third – and perhaps optimum – option is a Managed Service approach. The organisation will stay in control and drive the business strategy, while the partnership approach will complement this by bringing specific expertise for a particular project, technology area or professional service delivery. This may range from design, delivery, maintenance, or support of a particular technology area through to the management of an organisation’s entire ICT estate.

3. What are the critical success factors for a Managed Service solution?

There are several critical success factors to consider when implementing a Managed Service solution. The first is making sure an organisation chooses an expert partner with capabilities across multiple technologies, while experience of migration and transformation is essential.

We also recommend a roadmap strategy, with clear goals and objectives, jointly agreed outcomes and a defined catalogue of services with supporting Service Level Agreements. The latter will provide a flexible approach and deliver a financial benefit, ensuring the exact requirements of an organisation are met.

Additionally, organisations should look for a partner with local resources that can be scaled up or down for certain technologies and one with experience of change management and service management. The former will ensure any new technology is embraced with the culture and carry out a phased project delivery, while the latter will provide monitoring and reporting of an ICT estate, along with a service desk capability for any issues that may arise.

4. What types of services should you expect?

Community safety and life-saving operations are the number one priority for emergency services, bringing unique, mission critical requirements. They also have typical business ICT requirements, with the caveat that these typical solutions have added demands around resilience, uptime and security.

This is exactly what Telent specialises in; our catalogue of Managed Services includes cloud services, public Wi-Fi, networking services, compute and storage, plus specific emergency services applications. These include control room solutions, private radio, station end alerting, vehicle connectivity and fireground radios – basically just about every service that an emergency service might need. Our work with East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service provides a perfect example, with several projects delivered for the organisation, from providing professional services to upgrading firewatch and CRM systems.

We provide a complete portfolio of more regular ICT services that emergency services require – networks (LAN, WANS & wireless) compute, storage & data centres (including cloud), desktop provision and support, application support (such as email) service desk/help desk provision all underpinned by IT/cyber security and a UK wide professional services capability. The Telent team’s skills and expertise in both specialist blue light technology and a broad range of ICT services is a unique capability and a key factor in why numerous emergency services already partner with us.

5. Why is having the right technology partnerships so important?

The choice of service provider can make or break a digital transformation project. The right one must have a range of technology partnerships in place to ensure best of breed solutions are chosen and installed. A close collaboration with technology providers helps guarantee that the correct options and choices are made for the specific client, rather than the ‘one size fits all approach’ associated with outsourcing.

At Telent, we achieve this by being partner and vendor independent, but having strategic relationships with a broad range of technology providers across multiple application areas. We also have the highest partner/vendor accreditations in place which shows our expertise and gives us exclusive access to knowledge and future technologies.

6. Can you tell us more about the Service Catalogue Approach?

Our Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)-based ICT Service Catalogue approach provides structured and defined services. What this means for the customer is that they know what to expect and we are clear on the deliverables to complement and supplement an organisation’s capabilities. With the services defined and standardised, a flexible approach is possible and an organisation can ‘pick and mix’ which offerings they install within the digital transformation project.

This allows us to assist with just a specific project, area of technology, or just in an area where additional resource or expertise is required. Equally Telent can lead and manage a complete digital transformation project as per East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service or provide a Managed Service covering every aspect of an organisation’s ICT as shown by our work with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority.

7. How can organisations ensure innovation is delivered to their services?

While Managed Services clearly add value in accelerating the deployment of new services and enabling digital transformations, technologies continue to evolve at an ever-increasing rate and any good Managed Service partnership needs to also add value through innovation and future strategic direction – or risk falling behind the curve and slipping back into the legacy world.

At Telent, we address this through quarterly innovation sessions which are delivered to our customers’ senior leaders and stakeholders. These sessions look at the performance of the current services but also share and present new technologies that may be of interest. The objective is to ensure the best delivery of current services but also create an IT strategy roadmap for the organisation and introduce continuous innovation.

8. Can you summarise the benefits of Managed Services?

With the right partner, a Managed Service approach complements in-house teams by providing ICT support, tailored to specific organisational requirements. It provides access to expertise, specialist technologies, business analysis skills and IT and cybersecurity, as well as additional resource to undertake transformations, reducing the time needed to introduce new IT services. Managed Services also enable collaboration and the adoption of best industry practice, allowing organisations to drive value and benefit from ICT.

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