Big Ticket Tech

Lee Crump leads an IT team dedicated to enabling the other functions at Rollins

Lee Crump's IT insight: “We’re in an age of tech disruption unlike any we’ve seen thus far.”

By consumer standards, a pest-control company might not be the obvious incubator for advancements in business intelligence and mobility. But at Rollins, the pest-control parent company of Orkin, CIO Lee Crump proves that where there’s a business, it can be optimized, and where there’s a customer, there should be an app.

Crump started in information technology in the 1970s, when the field was called data processing. “Every business had a glass room with a computer,” he says. “It was almost like being in a fishbowl.” The words of the day were efficiency and cost reduction. In the past, IT may have been likened to the brain of the business, the data processor. But today, IT is more like the central nervous system, and the focus of Crump and his contemporaries is the consumerization of IT.

There are no business functions that aren’t touched by computer hardware and software, he says. It may seem natural then for IT to think of itself as embedded in the business, but the reluctance to let go of siloed operations keeps some CIOs and their departments from doing more than just keeping the lights on. Tech skills are less and less important, says Crump. Today’s CIOs need business savvy on par with COOs, CFOs, and CMOs. “What got us here won’t keep us here,” he says of himself and his peers. “To be successful in today’s corporate environment, CIOs have to start partnering with their CMOs to drive the technology that will bring in more sales.” To that end, Crump is working with his CMO, Kevin J. Smith, to give Rollins a competitive advantage both from a service and marketing perspective.

To improve the experience for the company’s existing customers, Crump and his team developed an iPhone app for technicians to use in the field. Previously, Rollins technicians would carry a ruggedized handheld device to scan bar-coded bait stations, and a flip phone for their wireless voice needs—two devices with two cellular plans. It was a simplistic and cumbersome process. The new iPhone app uses QR codes, which hold more data and make it available to customers—an important feature for restaurants and hotels that need documentation for audits. The app also capitalizes on the benefits of mobility, using global positioning, and can provide turn-by-turn directions as technicians make their way through daily appointments. A single device, a single cellular plan, and a lot more communications power and capability.

Championed and developed completely by the Rollins marketing group, HomeSuite and BizSuite are two additional apps created to help the company’s sales force. “We just provided minimal support and stayed out of their way,” says Crump. BizSuite is a sales and pricing app that helps account managers generate accurate quotes for commercial clients. HomeSuite is a residential sales tool that allows termite inspectors to use an iPad to take pictures of prospective clients’ homes and automatically load them into a proposal. The old method used flip-tent cards and generic images—not the best evidence when selling the necessity of your product to a specific client. “We’re selling to people who have never known a home without a computer,” says Crump. “They’re much more comfortable gaining their information from a screen, and frankly, if we can prepare a three-to-five-minute video that shows our protocol for service, we can be a lot more consistent and effective.”

While the iPhone field app is still in the pilot phase, HomeSuite and BizSuite have been in use for a few years. Though ahead of the curve, they are both just pieces of the larger picture coming together at Rollins. “The most important thing we’re doing and the biggest project, bar none,” says Crump, “is replacing the homegrown customer relations management system.” The system, a remnant of the late ’90s, handles critical customer-facing business functions and has been on its way out since 2011, being replaced by a third-party package that has been heavily enhanced to ensure what makes Orkin special is still available going forward. When complete, the company’s Atlanta data center will host the application for all the Rollins service locations.

The replacement is foundational to everything Crump wants Rollins to achieve technologically in the next five years. With more than 500 locations where, every day, 90 percent of associates check in and leave to visit customers’ homes and places of business, Crump’s goal is to provide value to Rollins by enabling its people to be as productive out of the office as they are in it.

“We’re in an age of tech disruption unlike any we’ve seen thus far,” says Crump. “The world already has more smartphones in use today than bathrooms with running water. People live and breathe by their phones, but they’re not talking into them. They’re texting and searching the Web. Those are the customers, the consumers of the next 20–30 years. If we’re not delivering apps and services on that trend, we’ll be left in the dust.”