State of the physical access control market, part II

Market gaps and strengths, and a future look into physical access control
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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Editor’s Note: State of the access control market, part I revealed the top five, current trends in the market as explained by industry-leading physical access control-minded security professionals of security- and physical access control-focused companies producing and offering first-class technologies and services.

YARMOUTH, Maine—Security brands and companies offer varying technologies, products and services within the physical access control (PAC) market today; therefore, all security companies and professionals must work extra hard to stay relevant. To stay close and deliver extra value to all customers, take time to look through the customer’s eyes to understand their reality, and then ask yourself how relevant you are to current and potential customers. 

In addition to analyzing the customer’s point of view, recognizing market gaps and strengths will also help identify available opportunities to serve customers not currently using PAC products and services as well as identify where the market is currently meeting or exceeding customer need. Use gaps in the market to expand customer base by increasing awareness and creating targeted offers and advertising campaigns to reach untapped customers to help increase market penetration. Market strengths help identify companies that are on target and offering the most sought-after products and services. 

The same industry professionals from part I joined SSN again, identifying the access control market’s strengths:

Customer-focused. When speaking of strengths, President of Brivo, Steve Van Till’s mind is immediately customer focused. “When I think about strengths, my mind immediately goes to, ‘what do customers perceive as strengths?’ Here there is a bit of a ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ story, if you will, involving ascendancy of the API economy within our industry,” he explained. “More and more customers are putting robust API capability on their list of ‘must haves’ when they are shopping for then next generation of access control.” 

Home access and automation. Nick English, national sales manager, Kwikset, reiterates Van Till’s comment in being customer focused. “The first thing people think of is comfort and remote access,” he said, in relation to access and automation. 

It’s becoming standard that homeowners are able to view their homes remotely, but just being able to see doesn’t necessarily allow homeowners to remotely interact with or do anything with it. For example, homeowners may be able to use an app on their smart device to see that their child is locked out of the home after school or that their home is flooding. “Connecting locks to a security system literally controls access to your home,” English said.

In connection with lock integration is the smart home ecosystem. Historically, the concept of a smart home was sold as a luxury, but “smart home drivers should be necessity for security and safety, and easy living,” Art Sesnovich, principal, Bulldog Communications, said. Besides, upselling smart home safety additions can offer recurring monthly revenue (RMR).

Cloud. An innovative engine has been created through the emergence of cloud-based solutions, according to Stephen Carney, vice president of product marketing for physical access control at HID Global. “We are entering an era with more opportunities than ever for organizations to create transformative user experiences, and look at workplace design and building services in new and exciting ways,” he explained.

Steady market growth. There is a strong demand in both new construction and in retrofit opportunities. “Mechanical and electronic products are not a luxury item; they are a must in any facility,” Robert Lydic, VP of PAC’s OEM Business at Allegion, said. “They enable true security of protecting people where they live, work, learn and play.” 

Talk of mechanical and electronic products rings true for English as well. “A lock is key to a home security system; it’s the guts of the system,” he said, identifying locks as a specific market strength. 

“Strengths in the market are wireless locks, cloud-based access control and video management solutions, and mobile-centric control and flexibility of locking systems,” Joe Grillo, CEO, ACRE said, in summation. 

A positive look at market gaps

Looking on the positive side, according to Lydic, there aren’t any massive gaps as the industry is well-served by “a lot of intelligent and well-intentioned manufacturers and service providers,” mentioning that the access control industry can be a bit slow to adopt new technologies. Countering that comment, he said: “it is a very conservative industry with a high capital cost to produce and implement new products.” 

Speaking of adopting new technologies, English identified battery technology as a gap. “Battery manufacturers say users are able to get six to 12 months out of a battery, but, in reality, they are changing it every four months.” Creating batteries that live up to the claims for access control products such as door locks could serve as a game-changer for the industry. 

Grillo goes straight to the heart of technological development in identifying market gaps. Typically, with any new or newer technologies, the barrier to use can be a costly investment for businesses. The widespread adoption of biometrics is “really only readily available to large-scale enterprises and government customers,” Grillo said, adding that he believes there’s also work to be done in intelligent access control and locking systems. “Data gathered from card readers and ingress/egress points can be analyzed using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to make facilities more efficient and help alert security operators to potential anomalies.” 

Looking toward the future

With any market there is always room for improvement; however, taking into consideration access control trends along with market gaps and strengths, overall, the market is doing quite well and “will continue to be one of the most exciting parts of the industry,” Van Till said. This is due to several outside drivers. Van Till explained: 

“The first is the shift of commerce from physical stores to e-commerce, with the attendant need for delivery companies to gain entry to locked structures of all kinds. The second is growth in the need for reusable, secure identity solutions that allow people to have the same identity whether they are talking to a POS terminal, their car or their office door. Consider this the physical analog of the password problem. Finally, as an enabling technology for all of the above, various forms of AI/ML will be needed to tame the complexities of massive many-to-many permissions problems in our IoT world.” 

Carney also views ML as a needed technology. “Machine learning analytics will become increasingly important for generating valuable insights from today’s access control solutions as many of these insights will be used to improve security.” Taking this data and applying it to “data mined from IoT devices and applications, access control systems, digital certificates and location services solutions connected to the cloud and incorporating it into an access control system enables organizations to improve security, personalize the user experience and make better business decisions.” 

There has been a natural progression toward continued consolidation across the industry. “Large companies are looking for ways to build their portfolios by acquiring companies that add value to the overall brand,” Grillo said. “The access control sector of the security industry specifically is highly fragmented, making it one area where M&A activity is poised to make a dent in the overall landscape and drive consolidation forward.” 

So, with commerce shifting, the need for the same identity in various use cases, AI/ML and consolidations, what can the security industry expect in the next five years in the access control market? 

Smart devices and mobile technologies. “With 5G, much of the hardware currently used for access control will be designed to integrate with other systems for remote control and monitoring,” Steve Spatig, general manager, electronic access solutions, Southco, said. This will increase the IoE (Internet of Everything) trend, resulting in the need for more data centers to support increased data production, collection and analyzation, ultimately, requiring a higher degree of physical security, according to Spatig.

Analytics and data insights for commercial security users. They “will begin to expect the same level of analytics and data insights from the security products they already enjoy,” Van Till said, especially in CRM, fintech, and nearly every other operational domain in their organization. 

Mobile credential, wireless locks and cloud. The mobile credential will be delivered in NFC and Bluetooth, said Lydic, and “will become the foundation for enhancements in other business processes and further product development of locksets and software systems.” More wireless locks will be seen in the interior of facilities, perhaps due to further proliferation of cloud software solutions. 

Change in channel structures and digitization. Systems are becoming more simplified, and “many intermediary channels will be eliminated, which will lead to lowered installation costs,” Spatig said.

Digitation will also continue. “Every piece of equipment that incorporates a computer will also have an electronic lock that is connected to that computer and its connected network to provide remote monitoring and access control,” predicted Spatig.

Industry standards. As the industry continues to move in a positive direction, Carney advises organizations to support industry standards. “These standards are critical if an organization’s infrastructure is to continue evolving to address emerging threats, identify vulnerabilities and update security protocols,” he said. “They are also critical for meeting integration needs by ensuring there is interoperability amount access control and security products.”

The concept of access control no longer applies only to simply gaining access to a particular space; it literally means controlling access to anything and everything. For continued success in the access control market, knowing and understanding market gaps and strengths, as well as what is likely to come, enables customers to be served to the fullest extent possible, now and into the future. After all, it all boils down to the customer; without them, the access control market, and every other market, for that matter, would be nonexistent.