2013 Systems Integrator of the Year: Leveraging All Strengths
G4S Technology, SDM’s 2013 Systems Integrator of the Year, plans to triple its services revenue using its new National Services Division as the engine, by leveraging the company’s strengths as an integrator.
G4S Technology LLC has the distinction of being twice recognized as SDM’s Systems Integrator of the Year. The first recognition was in 2008 as Adesta LLC, a systems integrator born of a communications-infrastructure company headquartered in Omaha, Neb. Today, the company is part of G4S Technology LLC and is SDM’s 2013 Systems Integrator of the Year. While many of the most vital characteristics of the business have not changed, the aspects that differ are those that are leading G4S Technology into a strategy that is helping it earn customers for life and ultimately become the No. 1 systems integrator in the marketplace.
It has been a journey getting there, remarks Sam Belbina, executive vice president. Belbina joined the company earlier this year, having most recently worked at Schneider Electric, where he was responsible for sales of the Schneider/Pelco video brand and the integrated security solutions business in the United States. As he takes on increasing areas of responsibility, the plan is for Belbina to assume the role of president of G4S Technology at the end of this year, when the current president, Bob Sommerfeld, will semi-retire.
“When G4S acquired Adesta [at the end of 2009], the ultimate goal was to be one of the major players in systems integration in the United States and the Americas. The first phase was to integrate Adesta into the G4S family. Phase 2 focuses on positioning us to become the global security systems integration leader,” Belbina describes.
Misty Stine, vice president of business development, believes Adesta and G4S had similar values before the acquisition, referring to a set of six group values that Adesta created as part of a strategic teaming effort. “When we were acquired by G4S in 2010, our core values aligned almost perfectly with theirs,” she emphasizes.
“The greatest example, in terms of the one that I would choose now over what I would have looked at prior to the acquisition, is that our vision today is to be recognized as a global leader — not just a national leader — but a global leader in providing secure outsourcing solutions. Whether it is systems integration and technology solutions or personnel solutions, we’re really looking to be recognized as the global leader that will help our customers achieve their strategic goals,” she says.
Before becoming part of G4S, a worldwide company known well for its Secure Solutions businesses that encompass manned guarding, Adesta had earned a reputation for engineering, implementing and maintaining some of the most complex security systems undertaken in the market. To date, and as part of G4S Technology, it has deployed more than 2 million fiber miles in more than 200 metropolitan and rural areas, and completed more than 1,500 complex security projects worldwide.
The integrator’s projects not only have been complex and demanding, but some also have been performed in very remote locations. G4S Technology built a fiber network along the Alyeska Pipeline in Alaska and installed a long-range thermal camera at the extremely foggy Cape Disappointment, located at the furthermost tip of the southwestern corner of Washington State.
“Some of the most complex projects ever deployed by our company were those for our maritime customers, including the Ports of Baltimore, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Corpus Christi, Tacoma and the Washington State Ferries, Miami and others, where we designed and installed fiber, wireless or a hybrid backbone network along with fully integrated security systems,” Stine describes. Many of these projects included radar, sonar, PSIM, VMS, access control, mobile command, and myriad video surveillance applications including thermal cameras, PTZ and fixed cameras.
Other security projects included integrated systems deployed at energy sites, including more than 25 large hydroelectric facilities in the Pacific Northwest, more than 30 nuclear facilities, and hundreds of electrical distribution, substation, and most recently renewable facilities such as wind farm and solar fields.
For its customer, Iberdrola USA, G4S Technology demonstrates its ability to truly partner in a collaborative manner; as it not only is implementing a technology-based solution, but also is helping the customer develop standards that it will likely use at facilities around the world.
“What’s really interesting is they are using the design, the technology, the security system that we’re designing and installing in the northeast part of the country — they are using that as a means to help develop the consistency and a standard that they’re going to take global, so the systems throughout their global operating territory will all be very similar. Part of what we’re doing is helping them develop those standards while we’re deploying and integrating this technology,” Sommerfeld describes.
“G4S Technology integrates some of the most complex communications and security systems in the world today. We offer a truly converged solution, along with strong project management expertise and superior customer service. We provide an unwavering commitment to providing a single solution that addresses all of our customers’ security needs. We do this through a layered approach that combines manpower and technology. It is this commitment and technique that make G4S Technology a truly unique partner in the industry,” Stine says.
With the acquisition of Adesta by G4S Technology, the company has become even stronger. “It’s been a very positive and growth-oriented experience so far,” Sommerfeld relates. Being part of G4S has given the integrator the opportunity to be exposed to “larger, corporate-type customers” such as those in the Fortune 200, he says. It has resulted in some global and international activities, for example, standardization of the security for Iberdrola USA at its facilities around the world. (See related article, “G4S Project Highlight: Iberdrola USA,” on page 60.) As a national systems integrator, G4S Technology is licensed to operate in all 50 U.S. states and it operates via G4S plc in 120 countries around the world.
“The size and breadth of financial backing has enhanced our bonding capability and thus our ability to bid and perform larger projects. We’ve also incorporated within our organization now the nuclear security system capabilities, monitoring center capabilities, some additional software-driven capabilities; we’ve also enhanced our skill sets and our product and service offerings,” Sommerfeld describes.
The NSSC Nuclear Division is new to G4S Technology in 2013, having been acquired by G4S in 2010 and brought into the fold of G4S Technology. This division brings a broad range of engineering and system integration services that focus primarily on the nuclear industry, Sommerfeld says. This year, management focused on successfully integrating NSSC’s capabilities into G4S Technology, while also expanding its presence in the nuclear industry and other highly regulated industries.
The menu of services that G4S Technology offers are as complex as the projects the company implements. Major services include:
- Enhanced security systems
- Advanced communication networks
- Systems design and engineering
- Systems integration and project management
- Construction and installation
- Turn-up, testing and training
- Operations and maintenance
- Monitoring and operations center
- Permitting and licensing
- Site and right-of-way acquisition
- CADD and GIS
- Vulnerability assessment
“The big differentiator that makes us different from our competitors is we provide numerous services from one place,” notes Kyle Hildebrand, director of corporate business development. “Individually, I think the consulting approach makes us quite a bit different than most of our competitors. One of the things that we’ve been able to offer to more customers now as being part of the G4S family is vulnerability assessments, risk assessments and risk-oriented solutions.”
Two other important services are that the company is a GSA Schedule vendor under the General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Supply Schedules Program. It also has achieved SAFETY Act Certification and Designation from the Department of Homeland Security. The receipt of this certification and designation covers design, engineering, construction, integration, maintenance and training services. G4S Technology (as Adesta) originally achieved this certification in 2007, and it was renewed in 2012.
The program that adds depth to this range of customer services is G4S Technology’s layered security approach. Graphically illustrated on page 53, the layered security approach encompasses electronic security systems, communications infrastructure, maintenance and services, video and monitoring services, and manned guarding into a single-source repository.
“Simply put, the layered security approach is delivering more than a single solution to a problem. It’s taking a look at a customer’s overall security program, and the series of intertwining problems that that customer faces. It’s bringing them multiple solutions that complement each other instead of one specific solution,” Hildebrand says. “For example, you can bring them not only traditional electronic security systems, but also handle the communications infrastructure that makes those systems work; augmenting their staff, if needed, putting systems professionals or communications professionals embedded with them; and video monitoring.
One of the benefits of the layered approach is potential cost savings for the customer, helping them meet their security budget, “for example, even when it means reducing guards and guard hours, which is something that is near and dear to G4S, to help that customer see their goal come to life. A consulting piece can be added onto that, which helps them develop global standards and a global approach so they can find additional cost efficiencies and more effective processes, whether it’s all in one state or in this country or across the globe,” Hildebrand describes.
Stine further explains layered security: “I described the collaborative approach that G4S takes with its customers to develop these necessary tools, technology and system standards that are required to more efficiently respond to the incidences and reduce safety and security risk and ultimately drive down costs. It would be extremely difficult to accomplish these goals without offering a security approach, which includes this unique layering of both personnel and technology. Finding the right balance for our customers is paramount importance as our national and our global customers are seeking a more efficient use of technology as a way to enhance their personnel and drive down costs,” she says.
G4S Technology’s customer-driven tactic has served it well in recent years. The company’s revenue from security-related systems and services (excluding the telecommunications part of the business) increased 9.9 percent in 2011 and 22.9 percent in 2012, reaching $109.4 million. Sommerfeld says it is on track (at press time in late September) for an 8.8 percent increase in 2013.
To provide long-term value to shareholders and solution value to customers, the integrator will be putting more effort into services, especially recurring-based services, this year and next year — a plan put into action with the rollout of G4S Technology’s National Services Division. Two additional big steps forward in the marketplace are the hiring of vertical market specialists, and adding more regional sales managers in key markets.
“G4S Technology has historically been a big project-based company; that was our core business. We always had services as follow-on to some of those big projects, and we’ve been with some of our customers for 15-plus years, but our focus was always on that next big project,” explains Jay Jorgensen, vice president of operations. “While we still want to pursue those big projects, we really want to build the services side so we can have a better balance of recurring revenue, long-term customers versus the large projects. The mesh between those two will allow us to grow and have a good base to go after those big projects,” he believes.
The G4S Technology National Services Division was created to build on this success with existing clients to capture additional recurring services business in the security and telecom space. The division will leverage engineering and technical resources from the regions and from strategic partners to meet the services needs of clients with national and global footprints.
“We are utilizing our regional offices to provide on-site technical support. Each regional office has dedicated management and technical resources that can service our recurring revenue base. Our centralized engineering resources in Omaha and Chicago provide engineering support to our on-site technicians. We have also hired additional sales resources that are dedicated to selling our national services product,” Belbina explains.
The target customer base is Fortune 500 companies and governmental entities that have multiple facilities in geographical diverse locations. A key component of National Services is utilizing the G4S Technology Monitoring Center (see related story on page 56) as the 24/7/365 call center. All service calls are routed through this state-of-the-art monitoring center, which will also provide Tier 1 technical support.
“Like any other system integrator, the recurring revenue is a key component... We acquired a small company three years ago called NSSC — Nuclear Security Services — headquartered in Chicago. We wanted to leverage their strengths. Recurring revenue is a key cornerstone of their strategy. They do a lot of repeat business, a lot of recurring revenues; a lot of work from a consultancy standpoint,” Belbina says.
The goal Belbina and everyone at G4S Technology is focused on, with the help of a new strategy director, is three times the growth within 24 months. Belbina outlined a target of between 45 percent and 65 percent of revenue to come from services in order to triple growth. The underlying foundation for this planned growth involves leveraging NSSC, the UL-listed Monitoring Center, and Video as a Service, Belbina says. “VaaS is a huge market, still untapped. We, as systems integrators, are the delivery engine for it. This can be achieved through operational budgets, helping customers avoid the capital expenditure route. The VaaS component, leveraging the monitoring center, and leveraging the NSSC are the underlying key indicators for us to be able to grow the services to threefold,” he says.
“One of the cornerstones is what I call leverage. The goal for us is to achieve 100 percent linkage, meaning every single contract that we sell, whether telecommunication or security, we want to have service and maintenance attached to it. If we do that it’s going to be 100 percent goal,” Belbina shares.
With the new National Services Division as the engine for growth, other things fell into place, such as hiring up to eight new vertical market specialists. The five key market sectors of G4S Technology are transportation, energy, communications, commercial and government. The market specialists will have their own dedicated sales forces.
“As part of our vision to become a more vertical and solutions-driven organization, we have recently added senior consulting engineer positions to our staff, focused on specific verticals. These consultant positions add value to a project, as we can utilize the full breadth of our engineering experience. Because of their vast wealth of engineering and project knowledge and experience, our consulting engineers can easily zero-in on a customer problem and craft a personalized solution,” Belbina says.
Another enhancement to sales is the addition of regional sales managers in the top six U.S. markets. “So, if I look at, for example, the New York-New Jersey- Pennsylvania-Washington D.C. corridor, we went from one salesperson to now about eight in that corridor alone,” Belbina says. Filling out the geography is a newly opened office in Seattle. “We are ramping up our business development team to be sure we have the best people in place to continue driving growth and new business, as well as developing additional recurring revenue and business with our current customers,” he says.
The last piece of the puzzle, but equally as important as the others to the strategic growth plan, is how G4S Technology can leverage technology offerings to manned guarding customers. “As part of Secure Solutions, the guarding company, they have a couple of components from a technology standpoint that can help us — Risk 360, SecureTrax, and Cash 360,” Belbina describes. “Not only can they offer you a physical guard, they can also offer you the technology to go with it to measure, monitor your risks from a guarding standpoint.”
Sommerfeld, who has long-term perspective on both G4S Technology and the systems integration industry, sees much potential for success with the new strategy. “We fill a void as one company who provides a complete and layered security approach from project fruition through maintenance and beyond to create customers for life,” Sommerfeld says. When that one company positions its myriad security offerings to deliver solutions that work well, within a customer’s security budget, there is no reason why seeking lifetime relationships with customers is outside the realm of possibility.
From Peter Kiewit Telecommunications to G4S Technology
Headquartered in Omaha, Neb., SDM’s 2013 Systems Integrator of the Year was founded as Peter Kiewit Telecommunications Services in 1988. In 1992, it became MFS Network Technologies, the cornerstone company of MFS Communications.
In 2002, Adesta LLC was formed when a financial partnership of Adesta management and McCarthy Group acquired the assets and employees of the company. Adesta was selected as SDM’s 2008 Systems Integrator of the Year.
Adesta was acquired by G4S at the close of 2009 and changed its name to G4S Technology in March 2011. The company is owned by G4S Technology Holdings (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of G4S plc. (For more information, visit www.g4s.us click on the tab “Who We Are.”)
The company continues to be managed by executives from the electronic security, telecommunications, and construction industries, and is a leader in providing innovative turnkey solutions for critical infrastructure networks and security systems worldwide.
Why the Monitoring Center Is Key to Strategy Execution
The G4S Technology Monitoring Center is, in some ways, a microcosm of the company itself. It is multi-dimensional and leading edge, and it has a strategic role in the company’s growth plan. To say it was built as a platform to launch a remote guarding/video monitoring business only touches the surface of what this high-tech, futuristic-looking center does.
“The purpose of the monitoring center is strategic: its purpose is to allow our other organizations to get contracts with customers that they would not have been able to get if we were one-dimensional, if we were only a guard company or only a technology company,” says Jerry Cordasco, chief technology officer at G4S Technology.
For example, in addition to video monitoring, the facility also serves as a technical support center, a network operations center, and a notification-of-digging center, among other things. The Monitoring Center, which opened in early 2009, is one of the pillars of the company’s recently launched National Services Division, with the purpose of providing sustainable recurring revenues across the entire organization.
Because there are no standards for video monitoring (Cordasco, by the way, works on UL committees that currently are engaged in developing video standards), the G4S Monitoring Center followed the requirements for and achieved a UL listing (UUFX) and subsequently a CSAA Five Diamond Central Station certification to demonstrate its high level of commitment to the business. It also plans to pursue a UL 2050 listing for servicing government clients.
The Monitoring Center, located near Boston in Burlington, Mass., began with an initiative at G4S to find a way to develop synergies between the company’s guarding business and its technology business.
While the Monitoring Center was set up to provide video monitoring — it uses the Immix by SureView platform and employs technical operators who have a minimum of an associate’s degree in a technology science — it is just beginning to ramp up with those kinds of accounts as the video monitoring industry matures and market awareness grows. Cordasco counts in excess of 100 such accounts, which have multiple sites that are being monitored.
Some of the services provided by the G4S Technology Monitoring Center include video-analytic-based perimeter security; video verification of alarms such as access violations; and security-based audio announcements to alert trespassers.
The other capabilities handled by the G4S Technology Monitoring Center include:
• serving as a 24/7 network operations center (NOC) for monitoring extensive fiber optic networks and their associated equipment, which originally were sold by Adesta (before it was acquired by G4S Technology);
• serving as a 24/7 support call center, where any customer can call with any problem with their security system and speak with someone who can help with troubleshooting and/or schedule a service response. (The Monitoring Center also handles after-hours support calls for G4S Technology’s integration business in the United Kingdom.)
• serving as a call center for Dig Safe, a national organization designed to prevent people from digging trenches and inadvertently hitting a gas pipe, a fiber optic trunk, or a communications trunk. “Everywhere that there is Adesta infrastructure like fiber optic cable, and there is a sign that says, ‘Before digging here, call this number,’ that comes to us,” Cordasco says. “We then use another technology to determine whether or not where they want to dig is within dangerous proximity of an Adesta fiber optic cable,” he says.
“We’ve become multi-functional. The internal name for the facility is the VMSDC. That stands for video monitoring support and data center,” Cordasco describes.
The Monitoring Center was built for high reliability and redundancy. A “huge internet pipe” comes into the center in a fiber optic network underground. For redundancy of Internet connectivity, “we have a dish on our roof that is a dedicated frequency from the FCC — it’s licensed to us and only us,” Cordasco describes. There are also backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies. “We took another step and built a disaster recovery site that’s 40 miles away.
“Those are the kinds of things we did, because we felt that we had to put the customer first. We wanted to be as good on the technology side as we were in guarding, or better,” Cordasco emphasizes.
He describes the G4S Technology Monitoring Center as a very open, high-tech space with the technical operators all facing a 40 foot video wall. It measures 3,800 square feet. “It was built from scratch, with the idea of being for remote monitoring. It’s like walking into a NASA command center.”
G4S Project Highlight: Iberdrola USA
Perhaps the single largest project that G4S Technology is currently involved in is with Iberdrola USA (IUSA), an energy services and distribution company with operations in New England and New York state. Iberdrola’s operations include electric and gas distribution and generation for nearly 2.5 million customers.
G4S Technology was awarded a multi-million dollar contract with IUSA to furnish and install complex integrated security systems at hundreds of sites across the Northeast. This project is a two-year deployment, which began in late 2011. Facilities to receive upgrades include electrical substations, hydroelectric stations, and service centers. The project will require the replacement of access control panels at the IUSA facilities, installation of thermal cameras, replacement of existing analytics and VMS, an upgrade of its security operations center (SOC), new security equipment racks, integration, installation, and project management.
“What’s really interesting is they are planning to use the design, the technology, the security system that we’re installing in the Northeast part of the country as a blueprint for their global standard, so all the systems throughout their worldwide operating territory will be very similar,” describes Bob Sommerfeld of G4S Technology.
One of the unique challenges when dealing with any energy utility company in the United States is the requirement to comply with all aspects of the NERC/CIP regulations. This requires that all systems designed by G4S Technology for this project must meet very strict information security, control and documentation requirements because any non-compliance or violation can result in steep fines. To deal with the complexities of NERC/CIP regulations, G4S Technologies uses the Subject Matter Expert (SME) approach.
“We assign a SME familiar with the energy utilities vertical to work closely with the customer and the G4S engineers assigned to the project to ensure that we understand our customer’s specific requirements and ensure our processes used and systems designed comply with all regulations,” Sommerfeld says.
The systems installed for this project include:
• Enterprise IP video management system;
• Enterprise electronic access control system;
• Embedded video (A unique aspect of the video analytics system used is the ability to work with specialized thermal cameras to provide perimeter intrusion detection followed by autonomous PTZ tracking within the same camera. This provides tremendous video evidence of an intrusion and significantly reduces the workload burden on the SOC operator.);
• Complete remodel and build out of the centralized SOC to include custom-built operator consoles and large-format display video walls. The video wall includes eight 55-inch thin bezel LED monitors with ACTIVU display processors and control software used to distribute operator workspaces, alarm feeds, cable TV feeds and various other visual data to predefined video tiles;
• Specialized thermal cameras that are used to provide both security functions and operations functions. One innovative approach G4S Technologies brought to this customer during the bid process was the unique ability to accurately read the temperature of any given spot within the camera’s field of view.
“Using the software we can predefine tours for the cameras to take periodic temperature measurements of equipment and report them back to the SOC. Being an energy utility, IUSA found this to be a very useful operational benefit to upgrading the security system. Having this technology allows them to anticipate failures on large substation transformers and take preventative actions to repair the equipment or reduce the load,” Sommerfeld explains.
As part of its scope of work, G4S Technology also will help Iberdrola USA write system documentation and produce an informational video for Iberdrola to use with similar implementations across its global enterprise.