Security Systems News

June 2011

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SECURITY SYSTEMS NEWS JUNE 2011 MARKET TRENDS 29 THE ABCs & 1-2-3s OF MANAGED ACCESS T By Matt Wickenheiser here’s something to be said for core competencies—recognizing what your company does well and focusing on that, and outsourcing other tasks that are beyond your core. That’s one of the key aspects of a growing trend in security, namely increased offerings in the managed access arena. “At the end of the day, people don’t want to mess with these (access control) systems. They’re happy to have the alarm company take care of these systems,” said Stanley Oppenheim, president and founder of DGA Security Systems, Inc. in New York City. “If a man’s in the widget business, he wants to sell widgets. We take the other job off his hands.” For customers, managed access lowers equipment costs and takes what can be a confusing system to operate—when done only sporadically—and puts it in the hands of professionals. “It just takes that headache away from them having to deal with it—all they do is submit a change order to that integrator,” said Sharon Shaw, director of education at the PSA Security Network. For security firms, managed access is anoth- er way to secure that holy grail of recurring revenue. It’s also an entrée into new markets with good potential for growth. “At the end of the day, customers actually like the service and become connected to it,” said Oppenheim. “When they open multiple locations, they will end up always using the same provider.” There are really two flavors of handling access for clients, noted Tim Feury, founder of Georgia-based Altec Systems. The first is hosted access, which is where a security firm has all the software and hardware needed for access control management. The client accesses the system through the Internet, and handles their own change orders, drops, adds, holiday changes, etc. True managed access also takes all the back-end tech out of the clients’ hands. But the security firm handles all the other necessi- ties—drops, adds, schedule changes, etc. “The question to the customer is, ‘How much of this management of the daily opera- tions do you want to do? You can do all of it, some of it or none of it …’” said Feury. Altec has been around for 17 years, and the firm has been offering hosted and managed access for three years. “We needed to grow recurring monthly rev- enues, and there’s only a few ways to do it,” said Feury. “If you didn’t get on the alarm monitor- ing bus 20 years ago, you missed it.” The company starts with a basic package, which includes 10 changes a month, a report and some other features. Altec doesn’t have 24/7 support, but if there’s an emergency change order (say an employee gets terminated and their card MUST be deactivated—on a Saturday) then the company will handle it, at a premium. The biggest challenge, said Feury, is that the management of the system goes beyond technology, into building customer support processes and help-desk processes. “That was the biggest challenge for us, get- ting into more help-desk, IT-style offerings,” said Feury. To make the model work, Altec strongly guides customers toward interacting with the company through a Web portal, or email. They don’t encourage telephone calls, he said. And Altec has redeployed staff to handle these new offerings. “The beauty of this model is if you do your processes right and set up your technology right, you can handle more customers per employee,” said Feury. Oppenheim’s DGA Security Systems has been doing managed access for 20 years. While he got into the line for the recurring revenue, he’s also happy with the growth potential of the offering. The largest market out there for access control, he said, is the small-door market, the under-10-door market. “There are untold numbers of those jobs— one door, two doors, three doors—real estate offices, travel agencies, doctors’ offices,” said Oppenheim. “Large integrators are not inter- ested in that small a job. Alarm companies are and should be.” The only way to penetrate the small door market is managed access, he opined. Those clients will not interact with their system enough to maintain any kind of skill level with SURVEILLANCE VIDEO VIDEO INTELLIGENCE the software—but there is tremendous interest in having the technol- ogy and having someone manage the back-end, he said. DGA also makes a Tim Feury point of doing “an excellent job” in design- ing the access cards for clients, so they are attractive, he said. 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