In today’s technology-oriented business world, it is easy to focus on the cool stuff, like facial recognition and high-tech integration. However, it’s probably a good idea to remember that the cool stuff is at the leading edge; most installations today are still focused on old favourites in the physical access world that make it a simple task to get people in and out of a building or various areas in a building quickly and easily.
Not only are the 'old' cards, PINs, fobs and whatever other access control systems have been around for years still selling like hotcakes, they are also far more cost effective than going for the latest in biometrics or integrated IP systems. Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to Jonathan Summers, CEO of Controlsoft while he was in the country to find out what the market is really looking for when it comes to access. We asked him if all the fancy technology out there is top of mind for his customers, or if these leading-edge solutions are the exception to the rule.
Summers is a good person to ask this question of, since Controlsoft has been designing, manufacturing and selling its products in the access market for nearly 25 years. More recently, the company has added a range of best-of-breed products from other manufacturers to its product stable. Summers says this is to ensure Controlsoft is able to deliver a full access solution to clients, no matter what their technology needs are, from one source.
On the question of integration, Summers says that companies generally are not demanding integrated solutions. Taking the time and attendance (T&A) market as an example, he says most companies have their access control points and T&A points separate so that someone doesn’t actually clock in when entering the building, but only when entering a work area.
In this simple example, the systems don’t need to be integrated as the T&A system performs an independent function that may require it to be linked to the payroll system, but not the access control system. The benefit to end users is that they are able to buy their T&A system from any vendor who offers them the service they require – the best-of-breed approach.
Not only does this allow clients the independence to choose the system that best meets their needs, but it gives them the flexibility to change their minds. If in a year or two the T&A system breaks or does not deliver the functionality the user wants, or if legislation changes regarding T&A operations, the client can easily implement another solution from another company. The only changes will be to the T&A system, while the access control system will continue as normal.
Summers says Controlsoft has a customer base made up of businesses that have been with the company for years. If they had integrated all their systems, there would have been a time when older Controlsoft technology, that still did the job the client wanted, would have had to be replaced with something else that suited a new product they installed.
Therefore, while integration may not be the norm, ensuring your solutions meet industry standards and are backwards compatible is a service all companies in the access market should offer to their clients. Many of Controlsoft’s clients have non-critical doors where a key fob has been and still is all the access control required, and these are still in operation although other areas are protected by newer technologies such as smartcards or biometrics.
While this take on the market may not gel with the latest and greatest stories we hear, it is one that resonates with clients, many of whom are looking for ways in which to improve their security postures without the costs of replacing everything. Looking ahead, however, Summers says the growth of biometrics is its many forms is set to continue and even increase over the coming years.
His view is that the market for access key fobs and cards will eventually diminish and biometrics and NFC (Near-Field Communications) solutions will become mainstream. This will obviously not be an overnight change and Summers explains that Controlsoft’s move to include products from other manufacturers is designed to cater for clients who are cautiously making the move to newer technology as requirements dictate, as well as to ensure the company remains the go-to service provider in the access control world.
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