Allegion’s Beth Anderson Talks Adoption of Mobile Credentials, Importance of Cybersecurity

Anderson also shares interoperability opportunities and more in this month’s SECURE Perspectives.

SECURE Perspectives is a monthly column by the Security Industry Association (SIA) profiling women in the security industry. This column is part of SIA’s Women in Security Forum (WISF), an initiative to support the participation of women in the security field through programs, networking and professional growth events and thought leadership opportunities.

For this edition of SECURE Perspectives, SIA spoke with Beth Anderson, senior channel marketing manager, commercial electronics at Allegion.

SIA: How did you get into the security industry?

Beth Anderson: I happily stumbled into the security industry in 2018. After working in various marketing and sales roles within the composite decking industry for over a decade, I relocated to my home state of Indiana and was looking to return to the building materials industry. During my search, I found interest in the security space, with its fundamental value in our world, along with the constant technological innovations to keep things exciting. Without any connections in the security industry or at Allegion, I applied to an open product marketing role and landed the job due to my versatile expertise. The rest is history!

How does your organization serve the industry?

Allegion keeps people safe where they live, work and thrive and is anchored by our Schlage, Von Duprin and LCN brands. As a pioneering manufacturer that advocates for open, interoperable and secure systems, Allegion believes end users should have freedom of choice in choosing which hardware manufacturer they work with, based on their unique and evolving needs.

Our brands are redefining security and inventing new technology that keeps you safe wherever you are. Focusing on security around the door and adjacent areas, Allegion produces everything from mechanical locks to advanced networked access controls, keeping every solution simple and integrated.

Further, our Trusted Authority investment in infrastructure and processes enable our Allegion team to develop, securely store, protect and transport encryption keys through the manufacturing cycle and configure them to MIFARE DESFire credentials, card readers and intelligent wired and wireless locking hardware. Our Trusted Authority investment extends beyond what we develop by consuming and securely storing encryption keys developed by others. Regardless of who provides the MIFARE DESFire EV credential, be it NXP or others, our mission is to ensure that the credential operates seamlessly with Schlage intelligent locksets.

What is your current position?

Currently I am senior channel marketing manager at Allegion for our commercial electronics portfolio. I work closely with our sales teams that serve our customer base specifically within electronic access control.

What types of job functions do women fill in your company?

There are many opportunities for women at Allegion in all facets of the organization. We have diverse roles including manufacturing, engineering, accounting, IT, marketing and HR — really, it’s limitless. Additionally, Allegion created a Network for Empowered Women as a resource group to empower women across the company to create and strengthen connections as well as foster professional and personal growth. These forums focus on career development, networking, mentoring, leadership and business ideas and solutions. I’m proud to be part of an organization that empowers women and embraces diversity across the entire business.

With more and more data that shows diversity makes a better workforce, what opportunities do you see for women in the security industry?

The opportunities are truly unlimited for women in the security industry. There are various industry organizations, awards and partnerships that help propel and recognize women in security. I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented women in my day-to-day working environment. The key to success I have found is really digging into your work and becoming a subject matter expert in your field, so people look to you as the source for strong insight. Looking ahead, there is certainly continued opportunity to elevate more females into leadership positions within the security industry and beyond.

What impediments do you see for achieving this? What could remedy some of these impediments?

Personally, I have learned to speak up and advocate for myself. Too often, women get overlooked for roles that they are qualified for. Women are well-educated, talented and hardworking. Removing implicit bias and subconsciously held stereotypes is critical to advancing more women to leadership roles. I also believe that mentorship is a critical component of success for advancing women. Having a trusted advisor to bounce ideas off of and learn from has helped me get to where I am today and pushed me to be my own advocate.

What do you see as important trends in the industry?

Cybersecurity continues to be top of mind. Data privacy is vital. As security systems get more sophisticated, more data is being used, and with this great power comes great responsibility. This means going the extra mile to offer disclosure and ensure robust data privacy policies are enforced so that the data is cyber-secure.

Additionally, the importance of open architecture and interoperability is heightening, as technology rapidly advances in this ever-changing landscape. Solutions that can be easily added to and customized are proving value.

We also cannot ignore the ongoing supply chain disruptions the industry is facing. Finding alternative ways to keep business moving by placing focus on supply chain resiliency is critical.

The talent shortage is also severely affecting the industry, across departments. Promoting and incentivizing training programs to encourage people to join the industry may help combat some of the staff shortage, as well as a rise in wages.

Finally, it is interesting to see how topics around safety and security have become so mainstream. This was something once taken for granted by the masses, but COVID-19 brought it to the forefront. The industry is evolving, with security solutions being designed to also focus on protecting the health of people (e.g., touchless solutions, contact tracing).

More specifically, what trends are you seeing in Allegion’s space of seamless access?

The migration and incremental adoption of mobile credentials, anchored by our technology partnerships, has enabled greater door access capabilities via mobile device authentication with our card readers and intelligent locking hardware. This extends mobile utility beyond the door opening, serving point of sale, logical access control, secure print and other third-party applications.

Additionally, the adoption of custom encryption keys versus proprietary encryption keys is on the uptick. There is increased focus around interoperability and cybersecurity awareness. For example, regardless of credential technology selected by an end user, our Schlage intelligent wireless locks enable end users to leverage their existing credential investment. By offering our customers interoperable solutions, we’re extending their electronic access control enterprise wirelessly. Interoperability ensures technology is seamless, flexible and future-proof.

With connected locks, cybersecurity is key. We remain focused on providing a secure infrastructure to build trust with customers and partners.

Not only does technology enable seamless access, but it can also unlock unique data and insights. The pandemic unveiled new use cases for credential technology like campus contact tracing and facility capacity management. We aim to provide our customers with meaningful data, and I anticipate this trend is here to stay in our ever-evolving world.

What are the top challenges your company has faced in the last year?

Helping our channel partners enhance their scale of virtual selling and supporting workforce development are major areas of focus for our team. The proliferation of the pandemic over the last two years has spotlighted the necessity to communicate and collaborate through multiple mediums without compromising the outcome. This has created opportunity to accelerate the adoption of remote and digital resources, which will continue to elevate the efficiency and accessibility within our industry. Similarly, the increased demand on the security industry, coupled with the preexisting workforce shortage, has further highlighted the opportunity to serve our partners with educational and workforce development resources. We have coordinated with partners to develop business-specific training plans, hosted live online training discussions led by subject matter experts and seen an increase in the utilization of on-demand training.

What are the biggest opportunities your company – and the industry – are seeing?

As mentioned earlier, interoperability. End users are moving away from proprietary relationships that limit their flexibility. We’re a competitive industry; however, there are opportunities for competitors to align where it strategically makes sense serving end-user needs. The LEAF Consortium would be one example. Another example would be the work that the FiRa Consortium supports and the development of ultra-wideband and the advantages it offers across a broad array of industries and applications.

What do you hope the SIA Women in Security Forum can achieve for the security industry?

Mentorship is one of the greatest contributions the SIA Women in Security Forum can offer, as well as providing career development courses and events to better prepare women for leadership. Additionally, the forum serves as a strong voice for women to continue to break down implicit bias in the workforce and enable upward mobility.

What is your best advice for women in the industry?

Believe in yourself and be yourself. Just before the holidays last year, a former colleague crafted a great LinkedIn post which pointed out that she doesn’t have any outlandish morning rituals that you can follow or TED Talks about her life or amazing routines that set her apart for success. Instead, it highlighted how she is on her own path, putting in time to become who she is meant to be. Her words were really powerful and resonated with me. It’s a great reminder that we’re each on our own journey in life and there is no secret, tried-and-true recipe for success. It’s easy to be hard on yourself; however, it’s not easy to be proud of your progress and acknowledge all that you have accomplished. Let’s flip the narrative — celebrate your personal victories and keep pressing forward.

Who or what was the strongest influence in your career?

I have so many amazing mentors in my life. One such individual I’ve known for 13 years and met while working in the composite decking industry. Although we live nearly 2,300 miles apart, Peter Slade is someone that I still check in with weekly to talk about how things are going. Our conversations are sometimes short, sometimes long, but always inspiring. Whether we are talking about projects at work, career roadmaps or our respective kids (and, for him, his now five grandkids!), Peter has always made the time to listen and advise. I value his continued mentorship and friendship above all others. He has helped me believe in myself and always pushes me to try for the next thing.

How do you define success?

This is a poignant question, as I am a big podcast listener and recently listened to an episode of the Secular Buddhism podcast with Noah Rasheta that discusses this very topic (Episode 152 – The Games We Play). Success for me is about the happiness I have in my life. I enjoy going into work for an employer that supports the whole me that I bring to them. I enjoy the work that I get to be a part of on a daily basis and the co-workers I get to work with. The work that we do actively impacts the safety of others, which is something that is far beyond a “job” for me, and that drives my passion to do the best work. And the work-life balance that Allegion supports and encourages allows me to continue to volunteer in my community and be an active mother to my two children. So, I believe success is deeply personal and situational.

What would you say to new upcoming women in the industry?

Seek a mentor, and not necessarily within the security industry. Find someone that can selflessly coach and empower you through all facets of your life. And be curious. This is one of Allegion’s core values and one that continues to serve me well in life and work. Ask the questions. Uncover the rocks. Don’t be satisfied with status quo. Find your passion and live that each day.

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