Guest Article: VMSaaP (VMS as a Platform)?

August 25, 2020

If you’ve been following the visitor management space at all, you’ve likely seen the industry is in the midst of a revolution.  For the past few years, security professionals have been replacing their old point solutions with the next generation of cloud-based and feature-rich visitor management systems (VMS).  What’s more exciting about this shift is the visitor management systems offered today are more focused on offering a platform which can be customized and expanded upon rather than a point solution.

What’s the difference, you ask?  Well, that depends on what role you play within the industry.  If you are an end user, it means customization of the user experience to the fullest extent.  If you are a systems integrator, it means opportunity.

In the context of visitor management, point solutions are systems which only offer the core competency of visitor management and generally not much more.  This is managing the list of who is expected to arrive, who has arrived, and who has departed.  Any ability to integrate with other systems or offer other modules such as third party watch list screening, contractor certifications compliance, delivery management, parking assignments, etc are left up to the pace of the developers or not at all.  The expandability is limited to a basic sign-in use case as opposed to sophisticated security or compliance-driven functionality.  That’s not to say there isn’t a marketplace for the point solutions, however.  Small businesses and security professionals who want a “set it and forget it” style of system are still keen to purchase these types of systems.

A platform within the visitor management space, however, offers much for extendability and customization for the end user.  A platform is a system that grows with your business needs and is futureproof.  Along with the core competencies of visitor management, you can take advantage of other modules such as parking assignment, mass notification, delivery management, and more.  Generally, you’re getting this at a pretty good premium compared to sourcing all of these individual systems as stand alone.  

Additionally, a platform is one which can be integrated with other systems whether by API, SDK, or other means.  Almost no large organization is set up the same.  Having a platform makes it easier to adjust to your individual use cases.  This will help show a positive ROI much easier than the alternative.

As an integrator, there is great opportunity to be had by jumping into the fray and the timing is ripe.  In the wake of the COVID19 pandemic when 84% of employees are worried about returning to the workplace, many companies are pushing off capital expenditures or canceling them altogether.  This means construction projects have been pretty sparse in 2020.  Upgrades and new access control systems go along with that.  However, almost half of all respondents reported their company has already adopted new technology for employee health and safety.  There is opportunity here for sure.  

For some integrators, these have been trying times.  For others, with recurring monthly revenue (RMR), they are able to weather the storm just fine.  Usually, you’d accomplish this with support agreements.  The trouble with support agreements is that they are the first to go when the financial pressure is on.  Rather than rely on a budget line nice to have, creating an integration or an application within a platforms app store gives you RMR that is relied upon and can’t be cut especially during times of crisis.

For app developers, the opportunity is similar.  Rather than develop large apps where you need to manage the infrastructure and security headaches yourself, you could, instead, develop a lightweight application that connects or extends the platform and start to take advantage of the same RMR coming in.  For novice developers this may even be an enticing first step to deliver on a solution and get some revenue in the door while you work towards your larger offerings.  Alternatively, you have the ability to speed up the development of your own by offering a visitor management solution within your existing enterprise production offerings rather than create one from scratch.

As the world continues to move to a software first mentality, the demand for someone who can integrate the various systems to meet the customer’s unique needs is steadily growing.  Embracing partnerships like the Traction Guest Catalyst partner program positions you to not only be in high demand during a time of short supply, but over the long term helps define you as the most experienced player in the game.  Besides, gaining a reputation of being well experienced and innovative certainly never hurt anyone’s bottom line.  

To get started down the path, you first need to assess your current capabilities and identify any gaps.  For many partner programs, you’ll need someone with some development experience on your team.  However, with the low code environment available to you through the Catalyst program, someone who is tech savvy enough to understand how an API works may get you up and running and bring in additional revenue.  You need to be willing to accept change and learn about new technology.  Once you have that, it's a matter of filling out a form and starting a conversation with the Partnership team, then you’re off to the races!

About the Author

Brian Phillips is a veteran physical security executive with expertise spanning multiple global roles for Fortune 500 companies. Currently, he holds the role of Director of Global Security Strategy at Traction Guest.  Previously, Brian has served as the Director of Global Security at Thermo Fisher Scientific, scaling technologies and building teams enterprise-wide along with Alexion and Pfizer.

Brian has deep expertise in technology from visitor management to access control, mass notification and intelligence platforms. Driving innovation, his utmost passion is improving legacy security processes through the use of technology, solving complex data, security and compliance challenges across the enterprise.

Brian holds a degree in Security Management and industry certifications such as Certified Protection Professional (CPP), Physical Security Professional (PSP), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Lee Odess

I've worked as an Entrepreneur and an Integrator (founded E+L+C), for a multinational billion dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry (Allegion), as an Executive of a start-up who pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry (UniKey), and as an Executive with the first cloud based physical access control manufacturer (Brivo). I put all those years together to form a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the CRETech, proptech and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control and IoT industry.

Labeled as an uber-networker by the Washington Post, Lee Odess has over 18 years starting, building and leading businesses with an exceptional track record for sales growth and marketing effectiveness.

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