Absolute Secure Access Keeps the Internet on for Utility Workers

The 4-County Electric Power Association Reduced IT Support Tickets and Improved Operations for Field Workers with Absolute Secure Access

4-County Electric Power Association is a not-for-profit electrical distribution cooperative serving 50,000 members in Northeastern Mississippi that has been providing affordable and reliable electricity since 1939. The more than 70 field employees employed by 4-County Electric drive vehicles equipped with everything they need to serve customers, including Internet-connected laptops that are critical to their productivity.

The Story

Dropped Connections Leads to Worker Frustration

4-County Electric Power Association, which serves more than 48,000 consumers/members in parts of nine counties in Mississippi, faced a serious problem. Cellular dead zones throughout the cooperative’s rural territory would frequently cause employees to lose connections to critical applications. Field teams rely on Internet connections to access the utility’s core work order system, which creates efficient work scheduling around events such as storm repair. Relying on a cellular connection to access work applications, the Windows 7 laptops workers were armed with, would often be unable to connect due to poor network coverage, bringing work order progress to a halt.

Some linemen grew so frustrated that they abandoned their crippled laptops, resorting to pen and paper until they had time to open an IT ticket. Faced with unhappy employees and a system that often could not serve its intended purpose, IT Administrator Harold Critcher and his team realized they needed a more reliable approach to keeping teams connected to the Internet while in the field.

Security Challenges

Instant-On
Mobile Connections

Reduced IT
Support Tickets

Improved
Customer Service

"Our rural environment had employees re-starting their connections all the time. This caused a lot of extra cycles and delays in service."

HAROLD CRITCHER
IT ADMINISTRATOR
4-COUNTY ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION

The Solutions

How They Did It

Seamless Connectivity Improves Productivity for Linesmen

The utility selected Absolute Secure Access to keep employees productive regardless of the strength of the cellular signal. Linemen and other field workers now only need to start up their laptops once to get a connection that will last all day. From a user standpoint, the transition to Absolute Secure Access was seamless. Linemen didn’t have to learn new steps to use it; in fact, they didn’t even know it was there. They would just log in, and their applications would work flawlessly.

One Central Control Point Allows IT To Optimize, Manage, and Secure Connectivity

As 4-County proceeded with the Absolute Secure Access implementation, they also gained a central control point from which they could secure, manage, and optimize connectivity for the organization’s critical work teams. Moreover, the client-server software was rolled out quickly and seamlessly. Absolute Secure Access has transformed 4-County service vehicles into fully functioning offices. Staff no longer come into the office in the morning to grab a clipboard and paper for fear of their electronic systems going down.

Secure Remote Access = More Time in the Field

Linemen also no longer need to come into the brick-and-mortar offices every day but just a couple of times a week to gather materials or attend safety meetings. “Absolute Secure Access enables our field workers to complete more maintenance items and more jobs, helping us better serve our members,” said Critcher. That mobility has given the 4-County Electric Power Association more flexibility when planning for the future. “Absolute Secure Access really lets us explore possibilities we didn’t have before. From reducing our offices to holding less inventory, we can look at many ways to save and provide better value and member service,” added Critcher.

"All they noticed was connections were there every time they logged on. This quieted our help desk phones immediately."

HAROLD CRITCHER
IT ADMINISTRATOR
4-COUNTY ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION

The Results

Enhanced Operations Lead to Improved Customer Service

Absolute Secure Access has dramatically increased 4-County’s ability to operate like its larger suburban utility counterparts. With cell coverage no longer a barrier to productivity, employees can focus their attention squarely on member service and satisfaction.

For the 4-County team, Absolute Secure Access:

  • Provides instant-on mobile connections with minimal user interaction
  • Reduces IT support tickets
  • Improves customer service
  • Provides operational cost savings

Absolute Platform FAQ

The Absolute® Platform leverages a cloud-based, highly-available and secure multi-tenant architecture that is available across different regions. It’s comprised of a variety of foundational components that power Absolute product features that are being leveraged by the company’s enterprise customers and ecosystems partners (e.g., independent software vendors, original equipment manufacturers, or managed service providers) alike.

The Absolute Platform consists of three core components:

  • Absolute Persistence Technology

Absolute Persistence® technology, a unique, patented technology is already embedded in over 600 million devices as a result of Absolute’s partnership with nearly 30 system manufacturers from around the world. Once activated, this technology is fiercely resilient and is the only solution to survive attempts to disable it, even if the device is re-imaged, the hard drive is replaced, or the firmware is updated.

No other technology can do this. Ultimately, it provides a secure, unbreakable, and always-on connection between the Absolute Platform and the endpoint, allowing you to gain unprecedented real-time visibility, control, and remediation capabilities.

  • Absolute Resilience Technology

The Absolute Platform utilizes two types of patented Absolute Resilience™ technology to ensure that mission-critical applications remain healthy and operational and to provide end users with the most productive, as well as optimized remote access experience possible:

  • Application Resilience™: Monitors mission-critical applications’ health and behavior; detects if missing, corrupted, or not running; and automatically repairs or re-installs components when necessary – without requiring human intervention. Application Resilience ensures security controls are working as expected and provides optimal user experience by fixing unhealthy applications. Currently more than 60 mission-critical applications are enabled for Application Resilience and more are being added frequently.
  • Network Resilience™: Monitors and automatically, as well as transparently restores and optimizes unhealthy network connections so networked applications continue to operate without end user-impacting interruptions that would otherwise require manual application restarts, network re-connects, and/or re-authentications. Network Resilience allows for superior connectivity and reliability, allowing end users to focus on their tasks and not network behavior.
  • Absolute Intelligence

Absolute ensures a digital tether to each device remains intact, providing you with reliable insights and intelligence from all of your endpoints to the network edge — on or off your corporate network.

Hundreds of data points are gathered and served up as insights, providing guidance on utilization, health, security and compliance posture, as well as a unified view into the entire end user experience. Applying AI-based risk assessment and user entity behavior analytics lets you go beyond the monitoring of resources and applications, allowing for automated remediation and uncompromised user productivity.

Other foundational components of the Absolute Platform that enable the Absolute Secure Endpoint™ and Secure Access™ products are as follows:

  • Web console
  • Mobile app
  • Rules and policy engine
  • Alerts
  • Dashboards
  • APIs
  • Application Persistence-as-a-Service SDK
  • Third-party integrations (e.g., SIEM, ITSM)

Customers can leverage the Absolute Platform components through Absolute’s packaged products, APIs, and SDKs. The result will be rapid innovation. The Absolute Platform is always included in the product package of choice.

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