There are many hugely powerful and feature-rich security systems out there. Often these systems are designed to fulfil the requirements of very large projects and enterprise-level installations. Even if the system didn’t start out that way, it often ends up becoming bloated with many specialised and project-oriented features. The allure of high value contracts is too strong to resist!
While many regard more and more features as only being a good thing, the associated complexity can often lead to unsuitability for the mid-market. The truth is that the vast majority of non-residential buildings fit into the mid-market category, and are not large projects. While the large projects dominate the industry news columns, the greatest revenue potential lies within the unsung mid-market.
Making advanced security systems practical and relevant to these types of buildings is essential to the development of the security industry. Paxton has a track record in this area. In fact, I would go so far as to say that doing this has been a major part of Paxton’s long term success, allowing us to more than double the prevailing market growth every year for the last 20 years.
Success in the mid-market
Firstly, what is the mid-market? Schools, gyms, shops, factories, offices, warehouses and much more. In access control terms, anything from 1 door to 50 doors.
Some assume that the only requirements for being successful in the mid-market are affordability and a reduced feature set (masquerading as simplicity). This is not correct.
I would say the key to success is accessibility to the customer. That means the local security installer, who the customer is likely to already have a relationship with, must be primed to recommend and install the system. To achieve this, installer training courses must be readily available, the system must be simple to sell, install and use (easy to say, difficult to achieve). The pre and post-sale support must be first-class including telephone support, on-site support and returns policies. All of these things are flags waved by many manufacturers as ‘standard offerings’, but to really do them properly requires massive investment and commitment. The whole of Paxton is geared towards this and that’s what it takes.
Implications for the future
Customers are demanding ever more from their security systems. Quite right too. In most other areas of technology the pace of change is frenetic, with products evolving and improving faster than ever before. In terms of buildings, it is no longer satisfactory to have multiple systems being administered and managed separately. Today’s buildings must be more secure, convenient and energy efficient.
The security industry currently satisfies the customer’s requirement for cross-functional systems by facilitating integration. This ‘pick and mix’ approach, while very suitable for large projects, is not right for the mid-market. The hassle associated with selling, installing, using and maintaining separate systems is enough of a turn-off on its own. Add to that the complexity of getting systems
to talk to each other, and then do something useful is the final nail in the coffin. As far as supporting the integrated mega-system, good luck. We recently conducted a survey of 1,400 Net2 sites. Even though around half of all these sites had some type of video surveillance in place, only 1.6% of all the Net2 systems were integrated with video (despite supporting integration to all the market leaders). This sobering statistic demonstrates the failure of the integration approach to penetrate this part of the market.
I believe that the requirements outlined above will give rise to a new breed of ‘building intelligence’ systems offering cross-functionality in a single system. Why incur the cost and effort of installing several systems when the technology available today provides more than enough performance for a single system to achieve multiple tasks? Why add the complication of multiple systems when a single building intelligence system can satisfy your requirements? Why rely on multiple manufacturers that provide a limited subset of integrated functionality when you can get a truly cross-functional system from a single supplier?
One thing is clear, there is certainly a place for the existing ‘integration approach’ and in many instances, it is the best solution. However, if integrated functionality is going to penetrate the mid-market, then it needs to be provided in a single package and work out of the box. That’s building intelligence.