Giving thought to...

July 15, 2020
Written Insights

Here are some thoughts that have crossed my mind over the past week. I may dig into them a bit deeper in future newsletters but for now:

When it comes to the commercial office, highrise, multi-family, and other markets, I have been reflecting upon how I think it will all end up.  We are definitely in the middle of a pressure cooker where there is a great desire to get back to work, a rush of ideas and thoughts around best practices and solutions, and a ton of interest form incumbents and new entrants pursuing the opportunity. That said, I do not think this will be the norm. I, as well as others, expect this cycle to go way down, just not as down as it was before. There will be a combo of new norms (😷), deeper roots for some older ones (😐), and a bunch of flashes in the pan ideas that will either be extremely muted or go away (🥶). Here is my take on some of the trends:

  • "The Office is Dead" 🥶 Not likely. More likely, a slight reduction but not death. Spaces are being reconfigured, and I agree with this article How Coronavirus Has Changed The Office As We Know It: Part 1. The definition of "the office" also starts to look different Home Officing is Here to Stay. Architect sees a clear opportunity for the development community to rethink multifamily housing for the COVID-19 environment and beyond. By Mike Rollison (thank you Bill Wood of Salto for finding this one)
  • Visitor management 😷 As I have stated before...This is here to stay and will continue to evolve. It is the top of my list of technology that survives the pressure cooker and flourishes to deliver real value. The definition of visitor management has morphed and so has the use cases. I suspect everyone in our industry to incorporate a solution into their offering.  
  • Thermal cameras 🥶 Not likely. The poster child for the pressure cooker: Good(ish) idea on the surface, bad implementation, and lousy return on investment as it is going to cascade more negative results than good with the current approach. For instance, see data and privacy below. You can see the headlines now, "White Collar Offices Become Super Spreaders Despite Investment in Thermal Cameras." I believe it has a place (a small one and should be used as a data point), but it is not the panacea and cure all the industry wants it to be. Expect to see a good number of people in our industry get egg on their face with this one. Even with the known concerns, I suspect we will see the technology everywhere. I just hope it is implemented and used correctly.  
  • Access Control Cards 😐 This one pains me, but I do not see a path where they go away and lose to mobile yet. In fact, I do not think they will ever go away completely. I do, however, think they will be the midterm main way we all interact with our spaces. I am seeing a handful of new entrants into our industry market that "cards are dead due to health concerns of using them." There is a clear lack of understanding of the breadth of installed legacy systems and the lack of rip and replacement happening. Will it happen? Yes. 100% now? No.
  • Mobile adoption 😷 That all said I believe we will see more adoption than we did before COVID-19. Just not at the desired levels a lot of us want. The increase will be driven by more value propositions around visitor management, building management systems (called building operating systems), and notifications, but from what I am hearing, the belief that COVID-19 was the moment mobile needed to overtake access control cards, is wrong. It will happen soon enough - there is 1 thing that needs to happen in order for the pendulum to shift faster...
  • Video and access converge even more 😷 This was well on its way before COVID-19, but the pandemic has shown two things that a lot of us have known. (1) There is a ton of value creation when you have the two working tightly together (2) The demand has increased beyond high security for remote capable (cloud) access control and video. This buyer will value a single solution that is more plug and play than integrating a bunch of systems together.  
  • Data 😷 Specifically new data sets. See below, but data privacy is going to be a more significant issue for our industry moving forward due to the amount of end-user data we are going to be accumulating. Historically capturing PII data like this was not an issue for most systems. It will be moving forward.
  • Workflows 😷 It is going to be all about the "ok now what" workflows based on data. Some of these will be brand new use cases such as "Lock doors till the conference room is verified clean" or preregistration for visitors. This is exciting to me because we start to unlock the value creation beyond security with these workflows.  
  • Awkwardness 😷 It is about to get even weirder in the market as these new technologies and processes start to get used. Just like we saw at airports after 9/11, I would suspect we will see the same long lines, frustration, and inconsistencies in lobbies and entrances. The good news is things will start to feel healthy and become habitual. I think we can learn a lot about what is in front of us by studying airports after 9/11.

Health concerns are topical right now, but data privacy and security are and still will be the more significant risks for companies. Before the pandemic, we did not build our systems with this use case in mind. Here is why I and others believe so:

  • We are going to collect and store a bunch of personally identifiable information (PII) data (health records like temperature) to access control data logs. Are we prepared and ready to handle that data correctly? Now is a perfect time to get crisp on privacy, confidentiality, and security.
  • We have been an industry focused on "external" conditions (e.g., who has access), now we have introduced "internal" requirements (e.g., health data). Have we thought that through?
  • Is it a stretch to think we may see these headlines? "Building Management Systems evade HIPPA laws while turning away workers based on phony science" or "Return to Work means building security is also your doctor."
  • I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but we must think through what could go wrong to get ahead of it and possibly prevent it. (Thank you, Jonathan Healey, for the inspiration and conversation around this one).

Can we learn anything from MLB and MLS on how getting back to work is going to go?

Many experts in our industry are missing the point on the Verkada's access control launch.

  • I was an integrator back when Sonos entered the custom electronics market. The current talk track about Verkada by security experts sounds a lot like what the experts in the custom audio industry said about Sonos when it launched. It worked out in the end, and I think this will as well.
  • It will work out, but it will be primarily for a broader market. Yes, it will have some overlap to the high-security market, but I believe this will impact the more mainstream, downstream demand. I think this hurts companies more like Alarm.com than Lenel and Milestone.
  • For all the reasons the industry experts believe it will not work are all the reasons, it is going to work.
  • They will have a love-hate relationship (forever) with the majority of high-security traditional integrators. My suggestion to our integrator channel is to stop joining in on the headline-grabbing and figure out how to use the awareness they are going to bring to either drive leads to your business or get crisp on the differentiation. Expertise will always be of value. Do not get caught up in moaning. There is an opportunity for you.
  • I still stand by my assessment: Technically strong. Marketing capable. Plenty of maturity needed (e.g., OSDP support), but areas that matter more mainstream (like UX) are solid.

I would love to have an open discussion on any or all of these. Please email or reach out on LinkedIn.

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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