Should Smart Integrators Lead with Access Control?

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Aug 02, 2012

Video gets all the hype but should savvy integrators lead with access control instead? Recently, some integrator members advocated this as a strategy to overcome the ongoing challenges in the video market. In this note, we examine why this is being considered and what the advantages and disadvantages are.

Background

Video is being hard hit by three major factors: the rise of internet sales, the dubious 'value proposition' of some integrators, and progressive role many end user IT groups play as primary stakeholders. The net effect of these forces is that 'video surveillance' is no longer a security system that must be subcontracted to specialized companies. The option of self-performing surveillance projects from end to end means that traditional security vendors have thinner margins and less opportunities to choose.

However, physical access control bucks this trend. This subset of integration has shown far more resiliency to commodity pricing and 'DIY' installation than many areas of physical security.

In the sections below, we contrast the Video Surveillance market with Electronic Access Control (EAC) and examine the underpinnings of the idea that shrewd integrators hang their hats on the access control business first:

Advantages of Leading with Access Control

What value does the EAC business offer integrators beyond what video provides? A few of the major elements are:

  • Much harder to Buy Online: Unlike Video components, Access Control is a more piecemeal design and specification problem than video. Buying a complete access control system often composed of hundreds of pieces is much more difficult compared to buying a few cameras. In addition, IP video has a closer affinity to 'wide open' computer and network equipment internet resellers compared to the closed distribution models the 'door hardware' market is built on.
  • Much harder for End Users to 'DYI': Installing access control requires specialized skills not generally possessed by end user IT groups. Beyond the custom wiring schemes, mounting door hardware, modifying door frames, and programming credentials require a level of knowledge beyond common skills.
  • Much harder market for Non-Experts to Enter: Video is frequently sold and installed by 'trunkslammers' with no real technical expertise. However, this type of competitive element is much less common in Electronic Access Control. Selling and performing this type of work successfully requires experience and training difficult to intuitively learn. The buying relationships required to resell most manufacturer's access control systems require a level of committment beyond casual involvement. The end result of this positioning is that resell pricing is higher due and margins are more protected compared to video.

Advantages of Leading with Video

However, not all strengths are equal. Video Surveillance provides some distinct advantages over EAC that should not be presume:

  • Bigger market: Put bluntly, more people want and use video compared to EAC. Video has the quality of being generally useful in a variety of applications, where access control is useful to controlling who is authorized to enter a given area.
  • Faster growing: In the 'tiered' security model, video surveillance is more fundamental than EAC. While access control expands on simple keys and locks, video introduces another surveillance layer altogether. When customers seek to 'enhance' existing security, they very seldom think first about EAC, but rather look to video as the next step. The result is that end users buy into video long before they justify or grow into need for EAC.
  • Faster changing technology: Access control lacks the 'game changing' technology pace of improvements afforded video. While every new year brings a variety of new advancements over previous video technology, an EAC system purchased 15 years ago has the same major features and functions of a system sold today.
  • EAC 'system changes' are Rare: Partially due to lack of technology improvements, and also because of capital expenses involved, simply 'forklift upgrading' an EAC system is rare. While incremental improvements to video can be experienced by upgrading select cameras or servers, improving EAC covers a larger system scope that generally encompasses a large expense. As a result, the life of many access control systems is measured in multiple decades, not 5 to 7 year replacement cycles.

Our Recommendations

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

Smart integrators who ignored access in the past should reconsider the positive impact EAC can have on existing video surveillance clientele. Aside from the close system proximity that video already share with EAC - they are frequently integrated together - providing both systems distances the integrator from being replaced on a whim, and provides the customer with a 'single source' contact for two major security systems.

Commonly, end users and integrators negotiate different pricing for combined systems rather than separately. The overall maintenance cost for either system can drop when the integrator can combine service calls into a single stop, and the integrator can sell this increased efficiency.

Finally, the strongest business aspect of selling EAC comes from the higher margins on sales and more complex nature the work entails. Simply stated, end users are less likely to consider self performing EAC work due to the specialized knowledge it requires.

However, the challenges of doing access control should not be overlooked. Stepping into EAC is not a casual decision and venturing into doors and hardware requires atypical skill for most integrators. Some of the risks to consider are:

  • Code Knowledge: Because access control can significantly influence Building Egress, it is subject to many safety and building codes. Familiarity with these codes, and how they practically translate into design and operation of EAC is mandatory and failure to comply is subject to punitive actions.
  • Mechanical Knowledge: The interaction of doors, frames, and hardware is deceptively complex. Understanding how all these components interface, and then modifying that interaction with EAC equipment has no common ground with traditional video surveillance work.
  • Craft Knowledge: Finally, installing and servicing EAC commonly require trade skills not shared with Video Surveillance. Modifying doors and frames to support electrified locking hardware require uncommon tools and training. Good 'surveillance technicians' do not always double as good 'EAC technicians'.

Conclusion

'Video-Only' integrators continue to face the threat of being a commodity business. Online/direct reselling will continue to squeeze margins and IT departments will become increasingly knowledgable at performing video work. However, integrators possessing EAC knowledge provide customers with a 'one stop' service contact for either system. The value proposition of an integrator increases significantly when complementing access with video..

However, the onus on training and developing skilled designers/installers is greater when adding EAC. Since many end-user/manufacturers complain "Integrators Don't Know What They Are Doing", this approach has the risk of spreading a thin resource even more thinly. However, the payoff is being skilled in a system that can grow integration business in a number of ways.

1 report cite this report:

Smart Integrators Should Lead With Access Control on Nov 10, 2015
3 years ago, we asked "Should Smart Integrators Lead with Access Control?" pointing out some of the relative strengths of access control and...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

RealNetworks Free School Facial Recognition on Aug 03, 2018
The company that created RealPlayer is moving beyond media delivery and into the security space with a new facial recognition platform they have...
Door Swing Tutorial on Jul 24, 2018
The direction a door swings might seem minor, but it can greatly impact door hardware selection. There are four basic ways a door can swing, and...
Improved Security And Surveillance Bidding - 2018 MasterFormat Divisions Examined) on Jul 19, 2018
Navigating the world of system specifications and bidding work can be complex and confusing, but a standard format exists, and understanding it...
FST Fails on Jul 17, 2018
FST was one of the hottest startups of the decade, selected as the best new product at ISC West 2011 and backed with tens of millions in...
4 Most Difficult Camera Installs (Statistics) on Jul 12, 2018
Heavy housings, cumbersome brackets, heavy ladders required, and tricky field of view requirements will cause difficulties no matter the camera...
Belgium Bans Private Facial Surveillance on Jul 06, 2018
Belgium has effectively banned the use of facial recognition and other biometrics-based video analytics in surveillance cameras for private,...
GDPR For Access Control Guide on Jul 03, 2018
Electronic access control is common in businesses plus organizations are increasingly considering biometrics for access control. With GDPR coming...
Allegion Acquires Isonas on Jun 29, 2018
Isonas failed to 'revolutionize' access control as they regularly claimed. Now, nearly 20 years after their founding, they are being acquired by...
Replacing / Switching Access Control Systems Guide on Jun 28, 2018
Ripping out and replacing access control systems is hard for important reasons. Because users typically hold on to access control systems for as...
Free Online NFPA, IBC, and ADA Codes and Standards on Jun 27, 2018
Finding applicable codes for security work can be a costly task, with printed books and pdf downloads costing hundreds or thousands. However, a...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Cut Milestone Licensing Costs 80% By Using Hikvision and Dahua NVRs (Tested) on Aug 13, 2018
Enterprise VMS licensing can be quite expensive, with $200 or more per channel common, meaning a 100 camera system can cost $20,000 in VMS...
Nortek Sues SDS, Battle Over Unpaid Bill and Cancelled Lines on Aug 13, 2018
Nortek and SDS legal battle continues. As IPVM reported, SDS sued Nortek alleging bribery and antitrust violation. However, Wave fired back at SDS,...
Uniview Intrusion Analytics and VMD Tested on Aug 13, 2018
IPVM's IP Camera Analytics Shootout featuring Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision created some ill will with a Uniview distributor who...
ADT Employees Protest ADT CEO on Aug 10, 2018
So many ADT employees were so upset with ADT's CEO speech reported on by IPVM, that ADT's CEO was forced to send a mass email to employees to...
Axis / Avigilon Legal Battle Rises on Aug 09, 2018
In what is shaping up to be high-powered, will-not-back-down battle, Axis and Avigilon are squaring off in multiple legal contests. In 2017, IPVM...
Camera Focusing Tutorial on Aug 09, 2018
A camera's focus is fundamental to quality imaging. Mistakes can cause important problems. In this guide, we explain focus issues and proper...
Dahua Ban Response: NOT Chinese Government Owned on Aug 08, 2018
Dahua has responded to the US Congress passing a US government ban on Dahua and Hikvision's products. While Dahua offered the now standard...
Bad Move: ADT Markets Rival Amazon on Aug 08, 2018
Amazon may be lining up ADT as its next victim but ADT is happy to promote Amazon. Amazon has made major moves recently, including acquiring...
Hikvision PanoVu Mini Tested (Multi-imager + PTZ For ~$500) on Aug 07, 2018
Hikvision has released their first PanoVu Mini multi imager, the PanoVu DS-2PT3326IZ-DE3, with four 1080p imagers, including a PTZ and integrated...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact