HID in Plain Sight

What can other security manufacturers learn from HID-CT’s operations?
Hébert: Many parts of the security industry in general have applied either Lean or Six Sigma to their manufacturing processes. Alarm panel manufacturers and camera manufacturers, for example, use these techniques today. However, Lean adoption and process control has been a bit more scattered in the access control space. Many of the companies are smaller and they don’t necessarily have the sam
e kind of practices. 

There probably are some things they could learn from us, such as software development where true control is often neglected. When software gets designed, it doesn’t necessarily get designed in a process environment that’s very well structured. Applying Lean concepts can help.
The North Haven plant includes the new Card Credential Services. What is that all about? Is it only applicable to end users or can systems integrators benefit?
Hébert: The premise here is that security is made of various levels. One of the levels is technology. But a lot of it has to do with what goes on the surface of a card. There is a multiplicity of different means of applying security on a card that aren’t that evident. You need a certain amount of specialized equipment for specific customization of cards.

A card service bureau enables putting security features on cards in a cost-effective, large-run environment. Even though this is still under development, this process of adding value to a card is something many end users are very interested in having. 

So systems integrators benefit because their value proposition to their customer, the end user, increases when they sell a card with added value. They’re not selling a white piece of plastic; they’re selling something with added value by virtue of security-enhancing features. That’s where Card Credential Services can help them.

Strategy Forged to Meet Demands of Access Control Convergence
What have been the most significant recent changes within HID Global?

Hébert: One of the most significant changes was the development and articulation of a new strategic direction. A multidiscipline team from different functions and business areas worldwide embarked on a program to scan the industry environment and review the landscape. We developed strategic alternatives and analyzed them. 

We assessed our corporate resources and developed a corporate vision. This process was a major investment in time and resources, resulting in an expanded corporate strategy that will allow us to strengthen our core business while focusing our unique competitive advantages for future growth. At the core, HID Global is focused on creating customer value as the trusted source for products, services and know-how related to the delivery of secure identity. 

We have looked at our business from the perspective of trying to understand where we have to be in the future. This is where we determined that being a leader in the delivery of secure identity is more applicable to where the future lies. As you look at the world of convergence, logical and physical access, personalization, and how all those different things fit together, that’s where we are best suited to address market needs. Remember that 12 months ago, Fargo® became part of the family. And that’s been a step change for us in the direction of where this company is going, and from a secure identity standpoint. It is a substantial part of our business today and shows tremendous potential for growth. 

We’ve had some other market developments, such as Edge™, which have been big changes for us as well. Crescendo™, released in February, is a new tool of convergence that hasn’t existed before, moving us into the logical space because that’s where the market wants us. It represents a huge change for us and will be a substantial part of our business over time.

Specifically, how will this affect/benefit installing access control dealers and integrators?
Hébert: As an industry, we’ve all been faced with the entry of IT and the influence they now have over security in general. The effect is that, as a manufacturer, we have a responsibility to our channel to help give them the opportunities to compete in this space. The onus is on us to come up with products that enable them to operate in this area. 

We recognized the convergence equation, with logical and physical sides, and offered Crescendo. It really is an off-the-shelf approach to convergence, and is something they can offer to their customers. Our mantra has always been ‘to take the complex and make it simple,’ and Crescendo is an example of this approach, much like iCLASS® has been.

Which legacy and new HID products/systems are most ubiquitous in the marketplace, and to what do you attribute their popularity?
Hébert: Clearly, the most ubiquitous product is 125kHz proximity cards and readers. They are still a large part of what we do. The popularity really has to do with availability of products, cost-effective pricing and a broad array of ‘flavors’ — a multitude of different readers and card options. HID’s worldwide sales and marketing capabilities — the ability to deal with global customers and to provide local ‘flavors’ — contribute to its popularity. The technology is easy to install and easy to use.

What’s been most important during the past two or three years is our ability to deliver in a timely fashion. So through our Priority Plus, and other programs, we can deliver 1,000 cards in 24-48 hours. Those kinds of programs provide a new, but necessary twist in our ability to satisfy our customers.

If you look at iCLASS, its increasing popularity in the marketplace was due to the fact it demystified the contactless smart card world. We provided something a bit more understandable, yet more secure, to our customers, while applying the same rule set in terms of distribution and speed of delivery to be able to satisfy their needs. On top of that, we also provided multitechnology solutions, both at the card and reader level, providing migration strategies for customers. These components, taken together, have made iCLASS the No. 1 selling contactless smart card brand for access control in the world.

Going forward, I think the next step will be for us to apply the same dynamic to Edge and Crescendo. We now have the technical tools to accomplish that in the marketplace. This makes things easier for both end users and our channels to provide solutions for convergence, the use of IT and related networks in the access control space.

IT, Smart Cards and Standards Set Stage for Future of Access Control
What have been the most significant changes in the electronic access control industry the past five years?
First, the growing influence of the IT domain on access control and their definition of what access control is. It’s not just riding over networks. If you look at the convergence picture, it’s the rules and the policies that govern the network access control world. It hasn’t fully taken place yet, but physical access control systems seem to be headed in that direction as well. Physical access control systems are sharing networks today. 

Therefore, their influence over its use has grown considerably, since this is their domain. During the past five years, this has accelerated substantially.

The use of contactless smart cards, rather than standard proximity cards, has been another substantial change. Even though a small portion has been realized to date, the potential is there for multiple application use of cards and, of course, the heightened security those cards provide. Those two elements have contributed to the shift toward high f
requency contactless smart cards.

Finally, with the understanding of things like HSPD-12 [federal government ID standard] and other such models, there is recognition that access control is really part of a total identity equation. During the past two years, this has become a much more important and prevalent ‘discovery’ that is likely to change how physical access control is viewed.

How have these changes altered integrators’ businesses and their customers’ use of access control?
Hébert: Well, it certainly altered their businesses in the sense that they now need many more capabilities and staff in the IT realm. They will have to have people that are MSCE [Microsoft®] or Cisco® certified, for example, with an understanding of networks and IT. In the future, they may have to have an understanding of service-oriented architectures and other developments. 

In the past, it was such an independent, proprietary environment, but now we’re living in a world that will become more standards-based. So that’s been a big influence on systems integrators’ businesses. Not all of them have followed that path, but those that have are growing for the future.

The use of access control systems is much greater now than it was at other times. So convergent opportunities between technologies, applications, logical and physical access control — all these things are starting to change how the access control system is used. For purposes of securing assets and people, access control systems are being relied on as a trusted information source rather than data gathering.

What will be the most significant changes during the next five years?
Hébert: The significant change will be a true convergence of physical and logical access. A true picture of the notion of a ‘secure identity’ — how it begins, how it is vetted, how it is managed, its lifecycle, how it fits with other applications, how it fits into the IT world. These are the points of influence that are going to change in the access control industry.

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