Back in 1979, there was a commercial for Remington electric shavers in which the company's president Victor Kiam closed with the line, "I liked the shaver so much I bought the company." Mike Berthelot, president and CEO of Poway, Calif.-based public safety software company Mission Manager Inc. can probably relate to Kiam. With Berthelot serving as president, Ambient Alert, Inc. recently purchased Mission Manager software from its original creator and then renamed the company after the product. "We are all in on Mission Manager," he says. "It's a great product."
Buying a product and renaming the company are daring business moves. And Berthelot plans to attempt something even more daring. His business strategy for Mission Manager is to convince agencies that have been using the software for free to convert to a paid subscription model. Berthelot believes current and future users of Mission Manager will be willing to pay for all the benefits of using the software and the new enhancements his company is planning.
Mission Manager was developed as a "hobby" by a San Diego firefighter and reserve officer and distributed as freeware. Despite such humble beginnings, the software has become a very popular critical incident management tool.
Berthelot says Mission Manager is also well suited for the day-to-day management of an agency's operations. "Most agencies don't have critical incidents very frequently. If that's all our software's going to do, then it's probably just going to sit in the cloud," he says.
On a day-to-day basis, Mission Manager can help commanders and supervisors with many tasks. The software tracks available personnel and equipment and organizes digital versions of documentation such as training and equipment manuals and certificates. In addition, it facilitates the scheduling of training and allows users to quickly and efficiently communicate with all or some of their officers via voice, text, and e-mail. "Mission Manager helps you prepare for your mission, maintain your readiness, and execute your mission," Berthelot says.
During operations, Mission Manager users can access 20 different mission templates and more than 100 map overlays in the software, which can be populated with a variety of data, including GIS and federal terrain maps. And because Mission Manager operates in the cloud, it can be accessed on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones from anywhere in the world.
But even though Mission Manager has proven to be a valuable tool for 1,200 agencies in 20 countries, the question that remains to be answered is will they be willing to pay to keep using it. Berthelot is betting they will.
He says that in addition to maintaining all of the utility they enjoy using the software for free, the users who subscribe to the new Mission Manager will gain better security and support than they experienced in the past. For example, Mission Manager's infrastructure and associated data has been moved to Amazon Web Services from Go Daddy. Berthelot says one of the key benefits is that Amazon backs up its data every second and Go Daddy much less often. This substantially reduces the risk of data loss.
In addition, the company will be offering free training through instructional videos and Webinars. On-site training will be offered at additional cost. The company is also developing an instructional manual. "Through our training options, users can have as many people as they'd like within their organizations brought up-to-speed on how to use all of the components of our software within a few sessions," Berthelot says.
Subscription pricing for Mission Manager is on a sliding scale based on the number of active members per agency and their storage needs. Berthelot hopes this pricing strategy will help Mission Manager remain attractive to law enforcement agencies of all sizes.