Times Change, But User Views of Access Control Have Not

It’s surprising how much things can stay the same in the security industry until, all of a sudden, a little something pops up that suggests there may be a change occurring.

For instance, J.P. Freeman Co. – for its 2004 report on the worldwide access control market – asked manufacturers what they think the key motivators are for users who are faced with the decision as to what brand of access control system to buy. This is important not only to manufacturers, but also dealers and integrators who may not realize that something is changing in the supply chain.

J.P. Freeman’s last full report on the access control market was in 1999, so any changes in manufacturer views span a four-year time period. Our expectation was that we might see different perceptions as manufacturers constantly working to figure out what their customers want.

Allowing for statistical error due to sampling variations between 1999 and 2003, manufacturers say users want, for the most part, what they’ve always wanted. As the chart demonstrates, manufacturers say users still place product reliability and product quality atop the list. And everything else appears to be pretty much the same with past experience, easy installation, technical features and factory service.

Manufacturers’ Views Shift on System Compatibility for Users
The first significant difference that presents itself is system compatibility. This is the only motivator showing a difference in the five-point rating system of more than 0.3 points – 1999 being 3.9 and 2003 being 3.5.

The difference in the rating indicates the issue of system compatibility has improved since 1999. This is naturally encouraging since networks and access/video integration have been in high demand since Sept. 11, 2001.

Beyond this noticeable improvement in system compatibility, other issues that did not change by more than 0.3 points still moved in different directions. This can sometimes also suggest a change in the wind. I wouldn’t make much of this other than to keep it in the back of one’s mind.

Of the eight motivators measured, four were found to rise, while the other four fell. The four that rose all have to do with reliability, quality, experience and service. All of them are related to good business practices in any industry, not just security. So access control manufacturers are reflecting the high standards security users judge them by these days when they place their orders.

All that is taking place during a period of economic weakness and small security user budgets in organizations everywhere. But the economy is turning now, and these qualities are sure to come in handy for dealers and integrators, as well as manufacturers since access budgets and orders are due to grow in 2004.

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