The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
As I said above, it has been some months since the last time we discussed the criteria of what I believe will matter for access control companies to lead as we go mainstream, and, as we all know, a lot has changed. Some of the impacts are becoming clearer—an excellent time to revisit them.
As a recap, the six criteria are Talent, Technology, Innovation Engines, Market Reach, Marketing, and It Factor. With all the changes in the market, in society, and the phase changes accelerated, the criteria are even more relevant than initially thought.
If anything, I would add one more to the mix: heart. This one is about having empathy, speaking up, and doing the right thing. It is about putting humans at the center of everything, both internally and externally. So far, Stanley Security, specifically Matt Kushner and Robert Raff, has shown to be an excellent example of our industry leaders incorporating heart into a strategy. While others have allowed a conservative communications department to get in their way, they have seen the value of being an outspoken leader not only for their team internally but the industry as a whole. I did not have an eye on this as a critical differentiator or core attribute until COVID, and the social unrest happened. Still, reflecting now, I do think it will matter even more moving forward, especially in our industry where few do it. Those that do will benefit greatly from doing it. Want to test my theory? Ask your own team.
Before we jump to the criteria, let's talk about why and what is happening in the market now.
- End-user experience finally matters. Especially now. Health as a value proposition is a must-have. Legacy systems are not built with this stakeholder in mind. They focused on the administrator and the integrator. Because of that, they do not have the features and have a hard time delivering the best-in-class experience.
- Existing buildings, aftermarket, and retrofit solutions are a focus. Not new construction and it is showcasing how outdated legacy systems are. They need to incorporate new, and forward-looking use cases such as touchless technology (lead by BLE readers, mobile technology, and facial recognition) and people workflows (lead by visitor management companies. Not to mention, remote access and data are having their moment). Legacy systems which are silo'd and on-prem. Good luck. You are exposed.
The resulting impact is:
- Value being sucked away from legacy systems that cannot be nimble or have the resources to respond. An entire market of VC backed companies, as well as incumbents that are set up properly, are seizing on the opportunity to cull the herd.
- You are being squeezed. Your annuity business of adding a door here or annual software update sale there is being questioned. You will be ripped and replaced over time. I do not care about your recent incremental growth. It will not last.
- You are going to have a hard time funding the software development needs to keep up. See the Talent and Technology note below.
- Redefinition of access control.
- You are seeing existing players or new pure access control players pivot their message from just security and safety to "Healthy Buildings" and "Getting Back to Work". It is resonating with the mainstream. Examples are Kastle, LenelS2, Genetech, Brivo, Openpath, and others.
- You are seeing new players become an overlay of legacy access control systems and bringing all the sizzle (and winning the end-user). Examples are Traction Guest, Envoy, Proxyclick, WhosOnLocation, AnyVision, Density, Vergesense, HqO, and others.
All that said, you have an opportunity but you need to make some hard decisions and invoke change.
Let's revisit the original definitions from Newsletter No. 7 (sent April 24th) of the six criteria we identified.
They were Talent, Technology, Innovation Engines, Market Reach, Marketing, and It Factor.
- Talent: Is the company able to attract the right talent for today and tomorrow, or do they value tenure and are happy slow rolling it?
- Analysis: Still extremely relevant. Especially during a pandemic and a resulting market downturn where you need new ideas, new partnerships, and the predisposition called "proudly found elsewhere" (PFE). Better known as the opposite of "not invented here syndrome."
- Technology: Is the tech on "Old Tech" or "Today Tech" with the opportunity to reach "Tomorrow" or "Future" Tech island? Are they set up to adopt, share, and lead?
- Analysis: Still an area that our industry is struggling with, but you see the companies accelerate that have the core architecture in place (cloud-based and API driven).
- Innovation Engines: Does the company have the essential building blocks in the right places, that allow the company to begin creating a reliable, fast-paced, strategically focused innovation pipeline?
- Analysis: An area that needs extensive work in our industry but, to be fair, I believe that there will be a good number of companies that prioritize innovation coming out of the pandemic and downturn. Hopefully, leadership teams will reflect and fund real change, both technically and in business processes/approaches.
- Market Reach: Is the company set up to reach a large number of mainstream customers beyond the status quo of the security industry?
- Analysis: You are seeing this play out live right now. The companies that have this ability are way out ahead.
- Marketing: Does the company value it, invest in it, and practice it?
- Analysis: Lack thereof is very apparent, especially in this new climate of remote selling, a massive need. Some have made some changes (congrats Feenics and Brivo for hiring for it), and others have accelerated it (Openpath). Most are still asleep at the switch when it comes to marketing.
- "It" Factor: Does the company have the ability to walk into a room, command attention, and leave everyone wanting more?
- Analysis: You see this play out in content generation and visibility broadly online. In a time where being invited to events, having the ability to get end-users and dealers to show up to your webinars, and to be able to create some form of separation, the companies that have "it" are showing why it matters. The pandemic and working from home has really put everyone on equal footing. Time to use "it" to bring people to your yard.
So here is my simple concluding statement and call to action: prioritize these and work on them. Do not wait.