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Digital Switchover: are we focusing on the destination rather than the journey?

Digital transformation is not a destination; it’s a journey that may take housing and care providers years to complete, says Jon Marshall of Securus Group, but there are ways to form a comfortable bridge between the two systems.

 

Providers will face a number of commercial and operational challenges on this journey and we believe that securing long term, reliable maintenance of legacy analogue systems is an inevitable part of this journey. Housing and care providers; industry bodies and influencers; TECS manufactures and suppliers alike recognise that the much talked about analogue to digital switchover is happening. This time it is not 21CN, the previous incarnation of the digital switchover that failed to materialise - this transition is happening now and can be evidenced by the increasing number of first-time failed calls to Alarm Receiving Centres that have the intelligence to monitor this trend.

Whilst there may still be ambiguity around the phasing of this programme, the industry appears unanimous in its belief that it will be completed by 2025. Although more education is required across the sector, there is a growing understanding of the risks this change presents to TECS users; the benefits that digital systems can deliver and the need for providers to create and implement digital migration strategies as a matter of urgency.

The industry is focusing heavily on the end goal of a fully digital estate and end-to-end IP alarm delivery. Is it focusing on the destination and not the journey and at risk of not considering the critical steps along the way?

We believe it is.

The Challenges to Housing and Care Providers

The cost of changing or upgrading aside, many providers worry about the disruption of changing all their systems simultaneously and there’s no doubt that many will need to maintain mixed manufacturer analogue estates during transition. Half the anxiety can be removed if there is a general acceptance that the nature of transition programmes is that it will likely take years not months. 

Another challenge for housing and care providers is the sheer choice available from basic to highly featured systems dependent on needs and how to obtain independent advice on what is the most appropriate system according to buildings and strategic objectives. 

New digital market entrants offering maintenance services will probably lack experience in housing and care environments. Whilst they may have the technical ability to fix faults, they may not have DBS approved staff trained in Safeguarding, Equality and Diversity to ensure end users receive appropriate levels of service and customer care.

There is also the inevitability that new entrants may not be able to offer reliable analogue systems support, especially in mixed manufacturer portfolios as they will not have the engineering knowledge to do so. It’s about finding a service provider able to deliver effective analogue maintenance; that is conversant with digital systems; is technology agnostic and has the softer skills to ensure the wellbeing of residents.

Opportunities for Providers

The gold standard is for suppliers to enable providers to shrink their analogue systems estate as they deploy more digital systems, without financial or operational penalty, and provide more innovative and flexible maintenance services. 

The key outcomes from engaging in this way ensures guaranteed resident safety at any point in the migration; support for analogue systems for the duration of the digital transformation programme; budget certainty, despite a constantly changing set of assets; impartial advise with an agnostic approach; protection of investment in legacy analogue systems by maximising their operational life; ability to refurbish and recycle out-coming parts and use them to support the older systems in a cost and environmentally efficient way.

Digital transformation is not a destination; it’s a journey that may take providers years to complete. Providers will face a number of commercial and operational challenges on this journey and we believe that securing long term, reliable maintenance of legacy analogue systems is an inevitable part of this journey. 



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