The Future of Access Control Is Integration

J.P. Freeman Co. has just published its 2004 report on the worldwide access control industry, and many issues popped up in the research that affect manufacturers, contractors, integrators and everyone else in the access control business. The most central of these issues is the trend in systems integration involving access and other security systems.

Although the security user can look at the integration issue from different perspectives such as more centralized control, faster response, faster receipt of information and IT convergence, senior executives look at system integration less from the functional side and more from the need to reduce costs. Separate, standalone systems cost more money in the form of separate departments, groups of executives, cost centers, facilities and, in some cases, management functions for control and supervisory purposes.

Systems integration is simply part of management efforts to downsize and flatten the entire organizational structure so fewer people become part of the decision process – thereby accelerating the business building process in fast track environments.

Contractors and integrators in J.P. Freeman Co.’s new research have acknowledged they see the integrated (a.k.a. cost-reduction) systems trend taking over their business – because the trend is still growing and has an unyielding, nonstop character to it.

Survey Indicates It May Be Time to Climb Aboard the Integration Train

As the chart on page 18 of the January 2004 issue of Security Sales & Integration indicates, 49 percent of access control systems installed are of a standalone design, while 51 percent are integrated systems of some description. The chart numbers for integrated could be overstated since those surveyed tend to be from larger contractors with a greater tendency to integrate their security systems. But the trend remains.

Contractors and integrators also say that in five years, the standalone group will fall to only 33 percent of the access control systems they sell. If you’re not in the integration business in the next few years, the chances of selling an access control system will continually diminish.

Does this mean that the industry is splitting into two camps – one riding the integration wave while traditional contractors resist integration and rely more on intrusion, fire and monitoring? And what happens when monitoring revenue is increasingly generated by new and integrated access systems that replace aging standalone legacy systems? Who wins and who loses?

The split camp looks more and more likely. How can you avoid even facing this dilemma? Like anything else in the expanding world of technology, we need to take the time and make the investment in learning the answers. For contractors especially, this task is right in the middle of the road next to the stop sign. Where do I go from here?

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