Paxton’s CEO Adam Stroud takes a look back at the industry over the last two decades and explains why diversifying into building intelligence is the natural next step for security installers.
A look back…
15 years ago the access control market was a very different place. Customers had a choice between very simple ‘stand-alone’ systems, and expensive, specialised ‘networked’ systems. The simple stand-alone systems had the advantage of being easy to install and affordable, but use with more than a few doors meant the system became impractical to manage. The user would have to visit every door each time a system change was required. Networked systems, on the other hand, offered some powerful benefits; centralised control provided practical management of larger systems, an audit trail of access control events happening around the building, and flexible control over who went where and when. At that time, the drawback with networked systems was that they were complicated, and required highly specialised installers. Add to this the high cost of the systems, and it meant they were only affordable for the large enterprise type projects.
It was into this environment, in 1999, that Paxton launched Net2, a networked access control system that offered the installer and user a new level of simplicity at an affordable price point for all building types. Its simplicity meant Net2 was quick and easy to learn, install, commission and set up, allowing security installers to diversify into access control for the first time and offer their customers a more complete solution. The journey to its current market leading position involved exploiting opportunities, and offering a valuable feature set that didn’t previously exist within the access control market. Good for installers, good for customers. Since the launch of Net2, Paxton has relentlessly improved the product, adding more capability and working with more and more installation partners. Today, it is one of the most popular access control systems in the world with 150 additional buildings being fitted out with it every week.
History repeats itself…
Today we face a very similar situation to the one described above, albeit with a different set of parameters. Advances in consumer technology mean that customers now expect their security systems to work seamlessly together. There’s an expectation that the various systems within buildings will share information to facilitate better decision making. For example; access control events, setting and un-setting the intruder alarm and motion detected by cameras verifying entry into an area, all of which accessed by a common interface. More than this, there is a growing demand for smart buildings, essentially systems that interact with other building facilities such as lighting and heating to provide convenience and energy efficiency.
The good news is that there are many dedicated systems with these capabilities available today. An integration specialist can install separate fire, intruder, video management, access control and building management systems and knit them together to provide fully integrated functionality. The bad news is that achieving this level of integration is highly specialised and costly. This means that, much like the networked access control systems 15 years ago, only the enterprise level projects currently benefit.
How do we know this? Out of 1,400 mid-market customers (e.g. education, healthcare, retail, leisure, public sector commercial premises) we asked, around half had video surveillance in place. Of these, only 1.6% had their video management system integrated into their Net2 access control system. This despite the fact Net2 makes it as easy as possible to integrate, it being free, and supporting integration into all leading video management systems. With this in mind it is an interesting statistic that reveals the extent to which the current integration approach fails to provide the desired functionality to mid-market customers. It’s just too complicated and expensive.
In 2015, Paxton introduced net10 to the market. net10 is a building intelligence system that provides access control, video management and building automation functionality, all within a single system. This is possible now due to the ever increasing processing power available, famously following Moore’s law. Years ago, dedicated microprocessors were required to handle the transcoding of video streams, today these functions can be performed by a very cost effective off-the-shelf processor.
So what’s the advantage of multiple functions provided by a single system? First off, it means that there’s only one system to purchase and install giving rise to significant cost benefits for both equipment and installation. Also, because all functionality is provided by a single system, there’s no complicated integration to do. This means that, far from being specialised, net10 is very straightforward to install and use. Both of these points allow mid-market customers to benefit from functionality currently only practical for enterprise level projects, in the same way Net2 did 15 years ago.
In the wider technology industry, there are many precedents of this happening. The modern-day smart phone for example has decimated the markets for party-cameras, PDAs and MP3 players. Of course, there still exists a vibrant market for high-spec DSLR cameras, and in the same way there will always be a market for specialised security systems dedicated to a single function. However, a range of solutions now allows customers to choose a product that is appropriate for them.
The implications for security installers…
Generally speaking, the installation of building management systems is not currently performed by security installers, but we believe it should be. Security systems such as access control, intruder and video management, provide a rich seam of data that can inform the actions of building automation systems to control lighting, heating and much more. Simply put, providing security functionality and building automation in a single package will not only make a building work better, but it will also grow the security industry considerably.
By sticking with conventional solutions, an installer may well find themselves competing against a building intelligence system offered by a competitor. A single building intelligence system that seamlessly blends video management, access control and building automation provides the mid-market with a solution that is practical and cost effective. This is fertile ground for installers to offer a genuinely new feature set, differentiating themselves from the competition and helping them win more projects with new and existing customers.
Things change and as technology progresses we must all adapt and seize the opportunities available to us. The world is littered with companies that failed to react and paid the price, just look at video rental stores. Nobody wanted to go out and rent a video or DVD when films could be downloaded in seconds from online streaming services.
Customers, just like installers, want to invest in systems that are ‘future proof’ and can grow in functionality and performance with their company. The Internet of Things (IoT) is still in its infancy and the creation of true ‘smart buildings’ is far from mainstream. net10 is architected to take advantage of these technologies as they evolve and will continue to meet and exceed customer’s expectations well into the future. Offering building intelligence to your customer not only future proofs their company, but also your own!