Why Taking a Consultative Approach to Electronic Access Control Is Critical for Success

A consultative approach for electronic access control is necessary in achieving balance for customers in today’s security environment.

Looking at the field of electronic access control, and the ability to install these controls in new construction or to upgrade a building to networked locks and openings, I see the opportunities and challenges as being two sides of the same coin.

On one side, is that ability to offer a customer an array of options for nearly every building and every opening within.

On the other side are the implications an upgrade will have on the actual network, on the staff that maintains the network, and on the individuals who use the doors on a day-to-day basis.

The security industry has evolved to the point where manufacturers can say yes to even the most demanding customers in the built and retrofit environment.

Offerings have become so diverse that whether a building is a laboratory, a grain tower or a school, we have a solution that will work for them.

The question today isn’t if we can take on a project, it is what do building owners really need and what can they actually use?

For security integrators, the opportunities to present a diverse offering of solutions to customers has never been greater.

But how do you make sure customers are presented with appropriate options without being overwhelmed?

More importantly, how do you ensure they are utilizing technologies that make their building safe and secure, as well as comfortable, efficient, and effective?

Because of all these options, and all these new concerns, there is a balance that must be struck. And that is where the consultative approach by security salespeople and integrators becomes critical in today’s security environment.

What is this customer trying to achieve in this particular opening?

If a customer can tell you their story about what they want to protect or secure, then you can take the next steps to making that happen. This also gives you a chance to walk through their process and offer them more or different options.

For example, emergency rooms have a central cabinet of medications that need to be secured. We can do that. But wouldn’t it be great if they could keep certain medications inside an examination room under lock while still maintaining an audit trail? Well, we can do that too.

And maybe that approach can be used for other places in the facility, such as records storage or computer rooms.

Taking these first steps in the consultative approach means listening first, and then bringing the right solutions to the fold.

For the customer, this typically results in a more friendly solution, and helps introduce them to new approaches, best practices and solutions they may not have considered.

What level of security is actually necessary?

Say a building is something akin to an office space. A building owner may have a preconceived notion of what will be enough security to meet the need.

But if you are protecting computers, it might be important to ask what is on those computers. Different businesses deal in different types of information — some of which is far more valuable than others.

That said, not every office needs to be locked down all day long. Full, online access control at every opening is likely unnecessary in most work environments. Too much security can severely hamper the user experience and create more struggle than it is worth.

Further, we need to consider the cost of infrastructure required to support the security and locking hardware.

With the exception of some government spaces, the reality is that very few entities can afford to deploy completely separate networks for security.

That means, for most, data will be stored and transferred on existing networks. Therefore, it is important to ensure that security systems are secure enough to run on a mixed network and that they are lean enough not to disrupt the day-to-day flow of business data on the same wire.

Getting back to the hospital example, perhaps it is critical to protect some openings with wired electronic access controls, but for many internal offices, hallway doors, or lounge areas this would be overkill.

Rather, it may be worth looking to other security solutions in those areas such as cameras, wireless locks and attack-resistant doors and openings.

Patient rooms will surely need some level of security, but it’s important to blend that need with doors and openings that are acoustically designed to keep the noise outside of the healing environments.

Are they up to the task of managing the new data?

Using a modern electronic access control system means managing data as it is collected and transmitted, as it is transferred along the network, and on the server side.

That requires someone at the site to manage cybersecurity, digital certificates and troubleshoot issues if something goes wrong. Not everyone is going to have that capability. And if they don’t have the capability, do you?

Long gone are the days of just selling products. We sell solutions. And part of that solution might be to train staff at an installation, provide support in the future, and working with partner companies as troubleshooters or systems managers.

To do this, integrators and salespeople need to make sure they themselves are trained on the technologies and that their own staff are trained.

For many this means a dramatic increase in the level of training currently being provided internally. If this isn’t a feasible solution, security providers may want to look at partnerships with other security companies and providers that can offer complimentary services.

Both solutions can work, and will be determined by the scale and types of projects being taken on. A large-scale project may need a partner from day one.

But for small- to medium-scale deployments, it might be best if you have those skills in house.

The future will require more of the same

In my time in the industry, we’ve gone from just having conversations about wireless in electronic access control, to now having every major access control player out there using wireless lock technology.

The continued proliferation of wireless systems and data management isn’t going away. This is the direction the security industry is headed.

As this boom in technology continues, salespeople and integrators will need to develop a broad understanding of offerings, a diverse technical skillset to keep up with the competition, and the ability to approach each project with a consultative mindset.

The next steps to consider will be the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation devices. Right now, we have IoT technologies in our homes, and people are pushing for them to be at work as well.

We all need to be able to provide, support and consult on these technologies as they develop. Looking further into the future, the use of cloud-based solutions will likely continue to be a mega-trend in the industry.

As security system specifications change, expectations rise, and bad guys will try to come up with new tools to attack them.  We need to be ready to adapt, respond and continue to protect people, property and assets.

Peter Boriskin is the vice president of commercial product management for ASSA ABLOY Americas. He has 20 years of experience working with security technology, particularly the enterprise security marketplace. He can be reached at [email protected].

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