Tech firm boss reports busy period in frontline fight against Covid-19

Paul Lawrence
X The Business Desk

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A West Midlands firm that supplies mobile technology to supermarkets, hospitals and care homes is stepping up its support to customers as they battle in the frontline against the coronavirus.

Paul Lawrence, managing director of Ascom UK, based in Lichfield, says his phone is “switched on 24/7” to respond to senior managers whose staff are vital in the current crisis.

The company – which has enjoyed 7% year-on-year growth since Lawrence took over in 2015 – supplies mobile communications devices for workers including handhelds and smartphones to thousands of UK businesses and 120 health and social care customers. They include supermarket household names, and top NHS and private healthcare facilities, including the NHS’s Chase Farm in London, the country’s first paperless hospital.

“During the coronavirus crisis we are stepping up our support package to ensure all our customers stay connected,” said Lawrence.

“For example, one large supermarket chain asked us to extend our mobile solution from the store to the car park, where small delivery vans are being loaded up with food boxes to go to vulnerable customers. Staff need to stay connected on their handhelds as they move from working inside the supermarket to supervising and loading outside. You need highly reliable communications to ensure a slick operation.”

“A lot of our systems help to keep lone workers secure and connected with other team members and of course that is the way many of our customers are working right now.

“In healthcare, hospitals are converting 30,000 beds in standard wards into hi-dependency units to care for patients with the coronavirus. They need us to quickly extend our communications into other parts of the hospitals, so for example, they need more smartphones and to expand our nurse call system to meet the need for extra capacity.”

Much of the company’s recent growth has come from the health and social care sector. When Lawrence joined, around 80% of revenue was from industry; now that stands at 55%, with health and social care customers making up the remainder.

“We have nearly 40 healthcare customers who were not with us four years ago,” said Lawrence. “In the last 18 months we have also moved into the elderly care market, where there is a big focus on keeping residents as mobile as possible to maintain optimum health. You need all the tools you can lay your hands on to keep that environment safe, and a growing number of care homes are using our solutions.”

In health and social care, Ascom enables clinicians to send, receive and analyse data via its smartphones and other solutions.

In industry, Ascom’s open architecture software integrates with third party systems including staff rotas, project plans, delivery timetables and safety alarms. Information is acted on by sending alerts out to staff using Ascom’s smartphones.

Lawrence puts some of the company’s recent UK-wide success down to the individual expertise of Ascom’s salesforce, which has reorganised the way it works. He said: “Previously, they were generalists selling our products. Now they are specialists in the customers they serve, whether it is retail, hospitality, healthcare or social care. They understand what their customers need from Ascom technology, and work with them to find the best tailored solution.”

The company, employs 50 staff at its headquarters at Wall Island, Shenstone in Lichfield.

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