In 2021, Pro-Tech Management upended the entire service and support model for AV infrastructure by bringing enterprise-quality remote monitoring and management to integrators and end users alike. Leveraging the power of the Utelogy platform to keep technology managers “100% aware, 100% of the time,” the new service enabled clients to monitor every device on their network via a single comprehensive dashboard. Moreover, it provides essential analytics on system utilization and performance and a variety of other business-critical datapoints.
Two years later, we sat down with Pro-Tech Management VP of Sales & Marketing, Steffan Ramage, and the company’s Director of Sales, Vic Garcia, to talk about the marketplace for proactive monitoring and management and how well Pro-Tech Management’s groundbreaking product has fared in a rapidly changing technology landscape.
Pro-Tech Management represents a new way to deliver service and support. What kind of reception did it meet from integrators upon introduction?
STEFFAN: Well, most of our people come from integration. So we knew there would be an appetite for what we planned to offer. However, it took a while to get traction because Pro-Tech Management represents a paradigm shift in customer service, and integrators were skeptical of something so different from the status quo. Fortunately, the logic of our approach was compelling enough to convince the skeptics.
After all, everyone understands the key to meeting the needs of end users is availability. If someone calls in to ask for service and it’s going to be days before you can respond, they’re going to call someone else. To prevent that from happening, you need to have people and technology standing by. But that requires an enormous expenditure of resources for most organizations that try to do it on their own.
With Pro-Tech Management, an integrator doesn’t need those kinds of resources on the bench, waiting to be used, because proactive monitoring frees them from the traditional reactive service model that has them scrambling to respond to frantic service calls. Instead, integrators receive a dashboard alert, not from an end user in the heat of the moment, but from the Utelogy platform telling them that, in the course of continual testing and retesting of all connected devices, a performance issue has been detected. Now, even if that issue requires a service call, there’s typically plenty of time to resolve the matter before it becomes an actual problem.
This is a real game changer for integrators. It’s no longer about how quickly they get to the client, it’s about how quickly they can resolve the client’s issues. And the answer is: faster than ever.
Let me put it another way: Without Pro-Tech Management, a client would call and say, “How fast can you get here?” Now, the client doesn’t have to call because the answer is, “We’re already there, and we fixed the problem before you knew about it.”
VIC GARCIA: The bottom line is that Pro-Tech Management enables integrators to provide a very high level of service with nowhere near the overhead capital costs that they’d incur were they to tackle remote monitoring and management on their own. That changes the value equation dramatically.
With Pro-Tech Management, you get robust and scalable monitoring. You receive essential data on device usage. And on top of that, you get a level of ease and convenience that’s valuable in its own right. Our integrator partners become especially excited when they see the topology of how the Pro-Tech Management system is set up. All it requires is a virtual or physical server at the customer site – and it’s not a heavy server by any means. Any IT department can handle setup as it’s typically a mini-PC with very minimal requirements. And on top of that there’s the support we provide to customers as they implement the system. We have a dedicated team working with customers to ensure that the deployment of the Utelogy software goes smoothly.
So integrators see the value prop, but isn’t it true that prospective clients for Pro-Tech Management immediately start to wonder about their margins?
STEFFAN: Sure, it’s absolutely top of mind. But our experience has been that when prospective clients look at all the savings, they realize the case for Pro-Tech Management is hard to refute.
Here’s what happens: A competing monitoring service will tell an integrator, “We have this platform that does X, Y and Z.” What’s unsaid is that it’s the integrator who has to get all the devices connected, configure that platform on the customer network, ensure that the server gets set up, set the tree for all the rooms, set up the hierarchy of alerts, figure out all the reports, and so on. The price may seem lower, but it’s the integrator who has to perform those tasks – and, to do that, they need trained experts on the bench. Now, if those experts are even 20% underutilized, that can change the whole calculus for value. Pro-Tech Management, on the other hand, handles installation, configuration, setup and ongoing operation, making sure everything works and providing all that technical support.
Another question based on your experience over the last two years: Do you still believe Utelogy is the superior software solution out there in the market?
STEFFAN: More than ever. We constantly examine the playing field, and to date I have yet to see another platform that aggregates device-level data like Utelogy. Sure, there are manufacturers that monitor their own products. If, for example, your network is 100% Crestron or Logitech, then their system will work great. But those companies can’t do it across multiple devices from multiple manufacturers.
Utelogy is unique in the breadth of equipment it monitors and the depth of information it provides on each of those devices.
What about Pro-Tech Management itself? What distinguishes your team from competing services?
VIC: Well, first, there’s the robustness of our resources. We’ve built a state-of-the-art Network Operations Center at our Michigan headquarters, where we monitor hundreds of rooms for customers all around the country. Other companies may claim to have the ability to do what we do, but they haven’t invested the time or the funds to set up an infrastructure as capable as ours. And they certainly don’t have the kind of partnership we have with Utelogy, which considers Pro-Tech Management a premier partner – if not THE premier partner – for their platform. That means we’re able to use their technology to its fullest extent and to update and enrich our offerings faster than anyone else.
Our investment in Utelogy is important because it enables Pro-Tech Management to be truly hardware agnostic. We don’t care what brand of gear end users purchase as long as the device has an open API and an IP address.
STEFFAN: Something else that sets Pro-Tech Management apart is our history and the relationships we’ve cultivated over time. Pro-Tech Management was founded by a solutions integrator that has national reach and a 60-plus year history with authorized partners, or subcontractors. The folks we’ve worked with on the integration side are the same people providing on-site service to Pro-Tech Management clients. We trust and can vouch for them because we know them.
One more thing: our pricing is simple and transparent. To give you an idea of what you’ll pay for any particular configuration, we’ve developed a simple, accurate Price Calculator.
Okay, Steffan and Vic, let’s step back for a second and look at the big picture. Talk a little about the overall state of monitoring. How is it changing, and how has the market for it evolved?
STEFFAN: I’ve actually noticed a very pronounced change over the past several months as businesses return to the office in force. Suddenly, they’re focusing on real estate – how much space they need, where they can consolidate, how to get better rents, etc.
For offices thinking about these things, Pro-Tech Management’s data analytics are in higher demand than ever. That means our integrator partners can tell their customers in granular detail which rooms are being utilized, how often, and in what manner. This is critical information for end users. They’re learning where their technology investment is paying off, and how to maximize ROI in each space. As a result, their infrastructure spending is being deployed in a much more cost-effective manner.
VIC: The only thing I’d add is that in a fast-changing business landscape, end users want peace of mind more than ever before. Pro-Tech Management protects against incidents like a CEO walking into a room and finding out at the time of his quarterly business report or Board of Directors meeting that something in the room is not working. That gives the C-suite peace of mind and it’s a lifesaver for the IT folks charged with making sure important meetings come off without a hitch.
That’s why we talk about customer experience vs. customer service and it’s why we call our agreement an XLA (EXperience Level Agreement) instead of an SLA. Maximum system uptime is what we are after. We want to avoid the frantic calls from people who are mid-meltdown. So we provide a product that turns the service model on its head by fixing those issues long before the CEO or anybody else walks into that room.
I was at InfoComm this year evangelizing Pro-Tech Management and I can tell you, from the number of visitors we spoke to, the demand for remote monitoring is higher than ever. Are there other products out there? Of course, but in a true side-by-side comparison, none are as robust or as capable as Pro-Tech.
STEFFAN: We’re excited about the way our customers have embraced Pro-Tech Management. They’ve validated everything we believed would happen when we launched this business, and their experience spurs us to continually improve our offering.