Interview with Careium Category Manager on digital transformation

Peter Wallstrom, Careium Category Manager, shares his thoughts and extensive expertise with Technical Director Gary Clark on the digital transformation of TEC.

Hi Peter, thanks for speaking with us today. Can you give us an insight into your role at Careium?

My pleasure. I’m one of the Category Managers within our Product & Portfolio team, mainly dealing with our fixed range of digital social alarms. It’s an exciting and central role. The main goal is to map our portfolio and roadmap in line with customer needs to make life safer and more independent for the service users.

On a day to day it is about aligning technical details for new product and services, supporting sales with tenders and maintaining our broad portfolio of existing products throughout their life cycle.

You’ve been working in the TEC industry for many years, firstly with Doro. I bet you have seen some changes, what’s the most memorable piece of work you’ve been involved in?

I have been part of a long journey within the industry. A lot has happened and changed throughout the years. The most memorable thing is when we managed to unite the TEC industry to develop the Social Care Alarm Internet Protocol (SCAIP). It was not just the joint development, but we managed to publish it as an official standard in a rather off-beat, but effective way. SCAIP rapidly became the European de-facto. At a later stage this also led to a European Technical Specification, TS 50134-9, fully based and compatible with SCAIP. This was managed by Cenelec, TC79, WG4, where I’m one of the active members.

“My key advice to the UK? Face the fact, have faith and set a fixed schedule. Aim only for a pure digital, end-to-end solution that is future proof and designed for the digital communications infrastructure.”

The UK TEC industry is currently going through one of the biggest changes it’s seen with the Analogue to Digital switch. What can the UK learn from Sweden, who have already been through this?

What Sweden did at an early stage was to make a very strong recommendation and statement to stop all analogue sales and installation. This was led and supported by the Swedish government and the municipality administrations who are the major procurer of TEC equipment, and it was stated in all major tenders from that day on.

This may sound harsh and hasty, but it wasn’t. The industry was well prepared and a key player in the transition. We developed a common protocol, made large test installations of digital equipment that was monitored closely, digitised the major ARCs and performed compatibility test schemes between the manufacturers. All this was done approx. 10 years ago and in a rather short window.

If we now reflect on this, it was done just in time. At that time the telecom industry started to literally tear down the copper network and digitise the exchange equipment making analogue protocol communication impossible or unreliable on the plain old telephone system (POTS). What happened as well, that may have an even greater impact, is that the seniors themselves terminated their expensive and old-fashioned analogue telephone subscriptions and fully embraced mobile.

Careium is one of the global market leaders in digital social alarms, from your extensive personal experience what do you think are the key selling points of our products?

s already mentioned, we were unselfish when we promoted SCAIP and are still convinced that the move to a digital, open and standardised protocol will gain our customers freedom of choice, instead of being locked in by one manufacture’s proprietary protocol. That open mindset, together with our long experience and knowledge in digital products, will make the difference.

Another advantage, thanks to the digital communication, is that we and our customers can monitor all devices on a minute-by-minute basis with automatic notifications as well as remote configuration and remote upgrade. All this giving an effective and pro-active way of managing the organisations fleet of devices through our excellent device management system, i-care® online, available around the clock.

We know that historic telecare operated over tried and tested analogue technologies, what part do you think mobile will play in the future of TEC?

Mobile won’t just be a part of it, it will be the major communication interface for future TEC. There are several reasons:

  • Affordability – fixed internet subscription is relatively expensive, as well as the old fixed landline subscription. Everybody needs to be able to afford the safety of TEC!
  • Supplier responsibility – by offering mobile communication, tailored by TEC, as a vital part of the service we can take full responsibility and monitor the communication in a proactive way and don’t need to rely on private network equipment and other communication suppliers.
  • Functional safety – With a built-in mobile interface we can control and offer a long battery back-up according to the standards and customer requirements. This isn’t easy or in most cases not even possible when relying on private consumer routers that aren’t specified or designed for that purpose.
  • Finally, a combination of above – With a mobile communication interface we can offer the full service, plug & play instead of sometimes advanced IT settings required in a private network/equipment.

If we are talking about mobile in the sense of carrying the safety with us, it will play a growing part within TEC. Everybody that wants to be safe when out and about should have the freedom to choose such a solution, whilst a fixed installation will be better suited for others and in a wider purpose. The greatest advantage for a portable GPS alarm, in my opinion, is not just the ability to push a button for help anywhere but it is the self-confidence it gives you, knowing that you can live life out-and-about if you like and don’t need to compromise on safety.

Are you able to give us an insight into any new innovations you and your team are working on?

Unfortunately I can’t reveal any details but the digital world gives so many opportunities. I would say that proactive, predictive and preventive care services will take-off in combination with the core values of easy to use, easy to manage and peace of mind.

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