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How to Make the Cloud Work for You and Your Clients

You don’t have to be a big company to take advantage of the benefits of Cloud hosting. In fact, the Cloud makes it even easier for smaller dealers with limited resources to grow their revenue and stay competitive.

Customers want data and information they can use to manage their businesses better and they want it convenient to get to. With the Cloud, it’s easy to sell and add valuable services your customers need. The Cloud is the perfect enabling technology for hosted and managed access control and its applications stretch well beyond security.

You don’t have to be a big company to take advantage of the benefits of Cloud hosting. In fact, the Cloud makes it even easier for smaller dealers with limited resources to grow their revenue and stay competitive — no matter what the company down the block is doing.

Ryan Christen is the sales and systems engineer for Vialarm Security and Fire in Concord, N.C. The family-owned and operated company has been in business for more than 25 years. Christen has been focusing on the multifamily and apartment building vertical markets — with innovative visitor management access control services provided via the Cloud.

The Cloud has opened numerous opportunities for Vialarm, which Christen has jumped on. “Naturally, everybody can do what we are doing because of the efficiency of the Cloud,” he says. “But nobody else is. There’s no other local integrator who will come in and manage the system the way we do, and that also makes these customers stickier.”

Multitenant Properties Embrace Cloud Flexibility

Vialarm’s services are geared to developers and property owners, and Christen says he puts management of individual residences with the people living in the building. “For me, it’s about providing the end user access to the system through the Cloud platform without having to manage a physical server or operating system onsite. The Cloud is my go-to now for multifamily property management in apartments and condominiums.”

Christen explains property managers have access, through the interface and corresponding app, to view all cameras and live video throughout the property; control doors; look at activity; manage the leasing office’s intrusion detection system; and control visitor entry. He has customized the solution for his clients — with flexibility and scalability another, plus in leveraging the Cloud. Through user profiles, he manages what end users and residents in these buildings have authorized access to and around the property.

“With the Cloud, we’re putting the system in the hands of hundreds of users,” he continues. “We give individual residents access to one or two cameras in their premises and to main entry doors with instant activation. Right now, the standard, run-of-the-mill for most properties is the call box with audio and no visual. The Cloud puts control into the smartphone for hundreds of users, while developers don’t have to put a call box on the footprint of their building.”

Another service Vialarm is providing: when someone unlocks the elevator it takes a snapshot with an associated camera.  Anytime a guest is let in there is camera evidence and tagged history of the activity. This gives managers a visual record of the person at the entrance and history of visitors.

End users also receive in-app notifications of alerts or other activities at the property. In the past, each technology was controlled by its own software — readers, call boxes and cameras. Now, the single Cloud-hosted platform does it all.

Consider Elevator Access Control

Alarm Specialists of White Plains, N.Y., is also easily adding services with the Cloud: elevator access control for tenant buildings in the heart of Manhattan. In one building, the system is used to augment guard services. A security guard is on staff during the day and uses the Cloud management interface to grant or deny access once a user presents their card.

The system is also connected to cameras and visitors are allowed only to certain floors by the security guard through the interface. After hours, elevators are locked down, and building management can use their smartphone to allow or deny access during that time.

Gary Davis, principal and owner of Alarm Specialists has been moving his company to Cloud-hosted security and managed services. “It’s flexible in application and there isn’t much I can’t do with the Cloud,” he said.

So many companies could benefit from managed services and the efficiency it provides to their business. But they aren’t taking the leap or can’t grasp just how simple it can be, especially with a powerful, integrated security management program. It’s easy for integrators to become full-solution providers with the Cloud — and move beyond security into greater profitability.

Here’s a checklist of some of the services you can leverage with the Cloud:

  • Critical environmental monitoring of freezers or coolers provides documentation and recordkeeping of regulation and standards compliance. Alerts are sent to users when temperatures vary above or below presets — before a loss or event occurs. The customer doesn’t receive just a simple alert or alarm; they get notification of a specific temperature the unit is operating at, for a proactive, targeted response. Critical environmental monitoring can also be used for pharmaceuticals, servers/IT data centers, machine operations and farming/livestock operations.
  • Energy management can save thousands of dollars per year for commercial customers who use occupancy sensors, automatic setbacks or other scheduled HVAC control afterhours or during holidays or vacations. HVAC systems coupled to access control and/or intrusion alarms can following the occupancy of the space and automatically dial back the ambient temperature when no one is present.
  • Humidity sensing is another monitored service perfect for museums, document rooms or other locations with sensitive equipment or historical records, allowing users to view real-time humidity levels and receive appropriate alerts if preset thresholds vary.
  • Tracking critical event responses, incidents and repair tickets at one or multiple locations for the end user, such as building and property management companies, multifamily and multi-tenant users or national accounts.
  • Voice control of systems; geo-location to track vehicle fleets or capital goods; the ability to unlock doors quickly with the smartphone and a barcode.

Think about what your customer needs and all the different things you can monitor for them. Give them the data and information to make their operations tighter and more efficient. Provide a history of device operation for compliance and regulations. Offer information that can avoid a catastrophic systems failure, loss of inventory or business continuity. Make more money with recurring monthly revenue (RMR) and become a more valuable business in the industry and the community you serve.

It’s time to step out of the mentality that your business is only security. In fact, there’s a new world of opportunity when you think about the data you can provide to the end user so they can make a better informed business management decision. Adding features and value-add services keeps customers sticky and grows your RMR. With the Cloud and increased connectivity, there’s no limit to what you can do.


Mike Simon is the Managing Partner of Connected Technologies, a company he founded after selling his long-running systems integration business in the Chicago area.

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