Delivering on the Promise of Off-Premises Management With the Cloud

Here’s how Cloud-based access hosting, privileging and database maintenance are leading the access control as a service (ACaaS) charge, and bringing more RMR.

Delivering on the Promise of Off-Premises Management With the Cloud

(Image Credit: naka/

In the 20 years since Cloud-based access control and video management systems were first introduced to the security industry, the market has undergone a complete inversion. The initial landscape was populated by an archipelago of one-off tower PCs and servers that chewed up IT staff time, delivered poor user experiences and provided flimsy remote management capabilities via dial-up modems.

Today, Cloud-based platforms dominate the security systems horizon. Simultaneously, the public came to not just tolerate a subscription model for services that were front-loaded with fat licensing and installation fees — but actually prefer the pay-as-you-go consumption economics.

For integrators, this new model was not only more attractive to their customers, but it was also better for their own businesses. The model gave them the stability of recurring revenue and much lower maintenance costs of software-as-a-service (SaaS).

This method transferred the burden of updates to service providers and freed up their valuable technicians to create new revenue streams with new customers, rather than languishing with the low-margin, low-satisfaction, alternative that the captive PC wing of the industry had tied them to before.

As all of this was happening inside the industry, another movement was gaining momentum within the same customer base, and would eventually collide with the practice of security-as-a-service. That movement is and was Proptech — the digital transformation of real estate and all things, transactions, and relationships that touch the built world.

The Proptech Disruption

By now, Proptech has already disrupted many traditional business models — and even the underlying products and services themselves — to be fundamentally digital. For commercial, multifamily and enterprise properties, this means applying technology to every aspect of the business: leasing, finance, tenant acquisition, property management, amenities, digital infrastructure, security, access management, loss prevention and collaboration among all parties.

The spillover effect on security is massive and undeniable, to the point where Proptech and security have become completely intertwined. Access control isn’t simply a security system anymore.

It’s an entire security management ecosystem that provides end-users a single app experience for moving in and out of buildings, paying rent, reporting maintenance issues, reserving amenities and creating shared experiences through interactive social tools.

As if all that wasn’t turbulent enough, we had a pandemic right in the middle of our digital transformation, which hastened all forms of technology adoption and shifted our industry on its axis. As an entrepreneur, NYU professor and author Scott Galloway points out, “COVID-19 has initiated some trends and altered the direction of others, but its most enduring impact will be as an accelerant.”

It’s obvious that this change in e-commerce is a bellwether for all forms of digital interaction, including our beloved security industry. Echoing Galloway, a 2020 study from McKinsey & Company showed that the pandemic sped up the adoption of digital technologies by seven years and that many of these changes could be here for the long haul.

The translation of this trend for integrators is that they need to adopt security-as-a-service quickly and entirely. We often hear that the security industry is slow to change, can’t change, won’t change, doesn’t need to change and dislikes change anyway. That’s baloney. That’s the old guard talking. If you ask anyone in the industry under 40, you won’t hear that nonsense; they’re all over the new technology and business models.

Even more importantly, so are their customers. Last year, millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in America, according to the Pew Research Center. The single largest cohort of your customers are people that barely remember a world before the Internet.

But let’s dive into the specifics of the changing technology security landscape, and we’ll circle back to that point.

Evolving Security Needs

To understand the shift toward Cloud access control services, it’s important to understand the shifting security needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. First, physical security was more important than ever, as previously occupied buildings now lay empty and vulnerable to breaches.

Secondly, this increased monitoring had to be done remotely, thanks to COVID restrictions. And lastly, but most importantly, there were additional health-safety needs that emerged due to the pandemic, which at its core, was a global health crisis.

Physical security has always been viewed seriously. Brivo’s 2021 Smart Security Trends Report showed that the pandemic made security professionals double down on this sentiment. In fact, 75% of respondents said that the pandemic increased the importance of physical security in their organization. And for good reason.

In 2020, business closures caused commercial burglaries to skyrocket in major metropolitan areas. Philadelphia experienced a 134% increase, and similarly, New York saw a 169% increase. And these breaches are costly. According to the 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report, 10% of malicious breaches in the study were caused by a physical compromise, at an average cost of $4.36 million.

The pandemic not only increased the need for onsite security, but it coupled this problem with another one — the inability for security professionals to complete their job at the physical onsite locations.

According to a Stanford University study, 42% of the U.S. workforce worked from home full-time during the COVID pandemic. That’s 139 million people that shifted from a physical office location five days a week to their home, in only a matter of days. The third, but not least important and ever-evolving factor, was the changing health-safety needs.

Based on a recent Brivo survey, 26% of respondents indicated that it is imperative to have technology that will assist in enforcing contact tracing, social distancing and healthy building compliance requirements. Having a sense of safety and privacy is a prerequisite to enjoying using a physical space.

Many conference rooms, offices, studios and boardrooms are now managed by a scheduling system connected to an access control system, controlling who can enter which room when. (Image Credit: Viacheslav Lakobchuk/

ACaaS is the Answer

Access control as a service (ACaaS) is surging with a vengeance — it’s being used by every new building-related Proptech service as either a third-party integration or as a native capability within the product itself. ACaaS combines the benefits of SaaS with on-premises access control devices. These Cloud-based solutions control access remotely, and back-up and store data securely.

Managing movement throughout the building is not possible without remote access control. Every conference room, office, studio and boardroom is now managed by a scheduling system connected to an access control system, controlling who can enter which room when — vital in the post-pandemic era. This provides permanent records of who accessed controlled areas or systems, resulting in improved security outcomes and reduced costs to the consumer.

The pandemic has moved this kind of Cloud computing from an added benefit to a must-have, and organizations are spending on it. In fact, recent Gartner survey data indicates that almost 70% of organizations using Cloud services today plan to increase their Cloud spending in the wake of the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Older market sizing estimates from Omdia placed the traditional access control business at approximately $5 billion in North America. With the market expansion driven by Cloud-based Proptech systems and services, the addressable U.S. market is already projected to be in excess of $28 billion. That’s a 4x increase over previous estimates, which implies that the existing integrator businesses will expand by that amount, or that new competitive integration businesses will be born to meet that increasing demand.

Everyone Wants Remote Access

In the real estate industry, it’s common to have to manage hundreds if not thousands of tenants across multiple multifamily units. The pandemic removed the option to have personnel onsite to manually provision and deprovision users as they moved into and out of their individual units.

Remote access control allows for directories to be updated remotely on a mobile device, and for all facilities under management, allowing for more accurate access due to real-time updates, and better health-safety protocols by keeping unnecessary personnel offsite.

In the corporate world, provisional access presents a different challenge. Access in the corporate world refers to both building access as well as database access, and database maintenance has become increasingly difficult due to the number of software applications required for employees to complete their jobs.

A 2018 study from Okta found that companies have an average of 129 software applications. And that number only increased during 2020, as companies required more technology solutions to support remote work. Managing that amount of change requires technology to support the process.

Detecting Events Before They Happen

AI is changing every industry on the planet, and security is finally getting its day in the sun with anomaly detection. Machine learning algorithms are now being applied to security data streams so that we can move beyond reactivity and focus on preventing bad things before they actually happen.

By linking the access control events with the on-premises security cameras, you have a new level of proactive monitoring. Anomaly detection records individuals’ movement in and out of a building, using both access control data and video surveillance, and proactively detects when there is access requested outside the realm of normal behavior for that individual.

This is a clear example of the power of access control as a service. Pairing the on-premises hardware — the biometric camera — with the power of Cloud-based access control — remote monitoring and video surveillance, provides a new level of detailed monitoring and increased security for the facility is imperative to staying on top of security threats, and ultimately protecting your building and its inhabitants.

Don’t Get Left Behind

It’s simple — ACaaS benefits both the integrator and the end customer. Integrators who don’t stay current with this trend are going to get left behind.

The pandemic accelerated our adoption of new technological solutions, such as remote access control and anomaly detection, but the industry was always moving this way. Now is the time to get on board. Actually, it’s past the time to get on board.

Remember how quickly you came to feel that you couldn’t live without your smartphone? That’s how quickly property owners will come to feel they can’t stand to be disconnected from their properties.

SSI Industry Hall of Famer Steve Van Till is President and CEO of Brivo.

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