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Samuel Merritt University CIO appreciates Quest’s ‘Partnership’ Business Model

Samuel Merritt University (SMU), a California nursing college whose roots go back more than 100 years, is committed to the safety and security of its students, faculty, and staff and strives to provide the advanced technologies that deliver a first-rate education. Marcus Walton, the university’s Chief Information Officer, says Quest helps him achieve both of those objectives.

 A few years ago, Walton recalls, someone was able to ride an elevator to an upper floor in a building on its Oakland campus, walk into an office, and steal a couple of laptops and a purse. Not a huge loss–but unacceptable.

At the time, SMU had already partnered with Quest for more than a decade on many of its technology needs. And in the years since, Quest has installed network surveillance cameras and smart ID-card readers that together allow Samuel Merritt’s physical security team to completely control access to every area of its four campuses. And, Walton says, the team at Quest helped him save money.

“They changed the way we were looking at security,” Walton says. “Our previous vendors wanted to put 360-degree cameras everywhere. Quest walked us through a process of looking at our actual needs and saw that we could use direct-focus cameras for most of our positions. They were able to reduce the cost of our Fresno build by over $50,000.”

Quest now delivers Physical Security as a Service (PSaaS) to the university. If there’s a need for a camera readjustment or card reader installation, Walton’s colleagues work directly with Quest. “And they don’t monopolize the process,” he points out. “They actually trained us while implementing for us. So that’s been a big plus.”

“We got such an amazing response for the classroom in Sacramento that we had Quest build out two more, as well as an executive conference room, on our Oakland campus. And now they’re scheduled to build a total of 10 classrooms in Oakland.”

- Marcus Walton, Samuel Merritt University, CIO

Building Better Classrooms

When the pandemic struck, like many organizations, Samuel Merritt had an immediate and acute need for virtual conference rooms and, of course, virtual classrooms. Walton recalls describing a use case for a classroom on SMU’s Sacramento campus to Andrew Samms, his dedicated sales rep, and Quest quickly providing a proof of concept. Then, he says, Quest gave the college “a classroom that faculty can actually use that helps them get their jobs done much more efficiently.”

The benefits of having a virtual conference room with audio visual equipment that has been carefully calibrated to SMU’s needs have accrued directly to the top leadership of the university. Walton reports that the President’s cabinet meetings have never been as well-attended as they are now.

Walton says he appreciates the depth and breadth of the Quest team’s knowledge. “The one thing that’s different about Quest is they have subject-matter experts in just about every area. We haven’t identified much that they can’t do.”

Most importantly, Walton says, he feels good knowing that Samms and his colleagues at Quest are genuinely looking to help with his organization’s technology needs.

“Every now and then, Andy will reach out and just check in. ‘How are things going? How is the new product working? Do you have anything forecasted?’ He’ll let me know if any of my technology subscriptions are about to expire,” explains Walton.

“Other technology vendors tell us what they think we need. For me, this feels more like a partnership versus sales.”

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Marcus Walton, SMU’s Chief Information Officer, says Quest helps him deliver safety and security to students, faculty, and staff, and the advanced technologies required for a first-rate education

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