The Silicon Review
Founded in 1986 on the premise of connecting what matters, Securus Technologies is a leading provider of technology solutions that improve public safety and modernizes the incarceration experience. For more than 30 years, correctional industry constituents – facilities, inmates, and the family and friends of inmates – have relied on Securus Technologies.
Since its inception, Securus has continually grown. Having a team of amazing people who spend a lot of time visiting correctional facilities to understand their challenges and pain points, the technology at Securus is second to none. With a combination of acquisitions, continuous reinvestment and organic development to bring solutions to market, Securus has strategically executed a revolutionary growth plan.
Today, Securus has positioned itself in the industry as the leading provider of full-spectrum technology solutions. The company is headquartered in Carrollton, Texas and provides its services in all fifty states through the efforts of over 1,600 associates.
Interview Snippet with CEO, Robert E. (Bob) Pickens:
Q. What kind of organizations survive and flourish into the future?
In my opinion, the most visionary and adaptable organizations are the ones best equipped for a strong and successful future. We all see news stories every day about companies that are failing because they didn’t see changes coming in the marketplace, with competitors, or with technology. In Securus’ case, we’re a technology company, so we strive to always be at the cutting edge of new technology. We combine a metric-driven and information-rich environment with a culture focused on constant improvement, and out of that springs cutting-edge ideas to improve the business, quarter over quarter. Our customers expect it from us, and we encourage and expect it from our Associates.
I’m proud that Securus leads our industry in patents and patents pending. But what really energizes me is that many of these patents are issued from outside our typical technology group. We have built an environment of innovation at Securus where Associates in many areas of our business have conceptualized fresh ideas based on daily interactions with our customers and technology experts.
Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years and how did you overcome them?
Ten years ago Securus was a struggling company. It was suffering through integration pains brought on by two competitors that had merged. It lacked focus and alignment across the organization. Revenue was shrinking and customer service was poor.
We started by enhancing the management team and then focused on installing a culture of accountability, transparency, and collaboration. Our mantra has always been about being better in the future than we were in the past and it has helped us in building our foundation to support success. By identifying high-value projects and generating promised results, the management team established credibility with investors and employees alike. With that credibility came renewed investment in the company, and management used that to champion customer service and rebuild and re-architect its service platforms. Only after it had achieved its service goals, the company began to focus on rebuilding its sales team and growing capabilities.
Today, Securus has doubled in size and has diversified its revenue streams significantly, providing a long runway for continued growth. We are proud of the benefits we provide to society, our net promoter score greater than 80%, and the impact we’ve had on the lives of our customers.
Q. What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?
Adopting the latest technology is difficult for many people, so there’s often a bit of uncertainty and hesitancy to change. Our people are out in the field listening to and learning from our Sheriffs, jail administrators, and law enforcement personnel; and we constantly analyze our situation to expand communications programs, create education offerings, and help inmates prepare for release. That has definitely helped shape our current offerings and develop several new products.
With all of our new product launches, we beta test them with those users anxious to take advantage of the technology and help us refine the end solution. Once they start using the new technology, our beta users become our strongest ambassadors and quickly share information with their colleagues. That peer endorsement helps assure people that something new does not need to be risky. And, we always invite those interested in modernizing their facilities to visit our technology center and operations center in Dallas for a hands-on demonstration and learning session.
Q. Is it true that striving for both ‘ethics’ and ‘success’ in a business is a tough feat?
No, I don’t think so! I think if you always start with a promise to yourself that no matter what, you are going to do the right thing, then everything else takes care of itself. We are very clear with our customers and all Associates that integrity at Securus is a core value. Upon hiring, and each year thereafter, all staff members must formally commit or recommit to our 11-point Integrity Pledge. The pledge is posted on our public website and addresses customer service, honesty, responsiveness, security, confidentiality, and respect, among other important values.
Crafting the Future Roadmap
Mr. Pickens has always admired innovators who think “out of the box” and come up with applications that no one knew they wanted but have changed people’s daily lives. Society has not yet begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities for technology like artificial intelligence and augmented reality. So, he believes that even for Securus, opportunities in the future will be as great as its Associates’ imaginations. Regardless of what technology Securus deploys in the future, it will keep its focus on making the world safer, delivering efficiencies, connecting what matters, increasing reentry success and reducing recidivism.
Greet the Leader
Robert E. (“Bob”) Pickens, CEO and President: Mr. Pickens leads a talented team of dedicated professionals who create and deliver innovative technology services that help solve problems for many government agencies.
Prior to his current role, Mr. Pickens served as President, COO, and CMO for Securus. Prior to Securus, Mr. Pickens was Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Integrations for Eschelon Telecom in Minneapolis.