The past few months proved that not even the high-tech sector is immune to the current economic tailspin. Like so many technology providers in other high-tech industries, security dealers and integrators are pondering answers to questions such as, “How can I possibly get more out of my current customers? How can I migrate my customers forward when they’re scaling back on technology investments?”
Indeed, it’s a daunting task for dealers to hunt for ways to increase recurring monthly revenue (RMR) streams as their customers look to trim expenditures. But innovative technology does still have a vital role to play in helping businesses weather the economic storm. The key lies within the dealer’s ability to create solutions that not only secure a facility, but streamline overall business practices in the process.
In the area of remote-managed services, for instance, access control is emerging as a valuable tool dealers can use to find hidden revenue generators, especially since some industry experts are predicting the access market could experience significant growth in the next few years.
Remote-managed services have potential in part because the technology can also enable dealers to simplify operations and eliminate some headaches for both their internal staffs and end-user customers. Even more so, however, the concept of remotely managing a customer’s access control system provides an important, less-tangible link.
“You want to be tied to your customers, especially in an economy like this,” says Shandon Harbour, president of SDA Security in San Diego. “You want your customer to have a constant reminder about the partnership it shares with you. That’s what managed access control does.”
So why isn’t every dealer already doing this? For starters, there’s an incorrect perception that remote-managed services turn a dealer’s facility into a full-blown central station. Additionally, being ready to embrace remote-managed access control means dealers will have to let go of a little tradition — as in, the traditional business model.
Defining Remote-Managed Access
Among the remote services software enables dealers to offer are: responding to requests for adding and deleting access cards; creating customized reports on an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly basis; receiving detailed reports via E-mail and Web-enabled devices; and granting customers limited system access through a Web browser interface that lets them manage cards and create their own reports.
As with most value-added services offered to everyday consumers (cell phone Internet service, for example), the key selling point is convenience — being able to simply make a phone call to a dealer and immediately have a new employee added to the company badge list, for instance, is a huge timesaver. The technology is especially appealing for customers that don’t have a full-time person to manage their access control system.
“Most of our customers were telling us they were exasperated with the data management part of access controls,” says Harbour. “Loading cards, deleting cards, backing up their computers every 20-30 days, those were the biggest complaints. Now, we pick up that challenge for the customers, which makes the system much more appealing.”
And just as mobile phone features like text messaging add a little more revenue each month for a wireless communications dealer, remote-managed access control features such as badge management and reporting can greatly increase the value of a new or existing access control account.
Because remote-managed access control is a naturally good fit for central stations, some dealers may worry that adding it to their portfolios means turning their offices into central stations — which, in some cases, could be a burdensome and expensive proposition. These dealers are understandably hesitant at the thought of having to commit personnel and budget to monitoring a customer’s installation around the clock.
However, the notion that providing remotely managed services equates to taking on the role of central station is unsubstantiated. There is, after all, a reason why it’s called “managed” services, and not “monitored.”
The functionality offered by remote-managed access control is not as critical as functionality offered by a central station. It’s still not the dealer’s role to coordinate with first responders during emergencies or handle similarly critical functions.
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