ServiceNow app now integrates with AMAG’s Symmetry CONNECT

A story of evolution, innovation and convergence
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Monday, October 28, 2019

TORRANCE, Calif.—Over the past five years, AMAG has morphed from a pure access control company into a physical security company, evolving into more of a trusted advisor. The company has paid special attention to talk directly to their customers to understand their problem(s) and, in turn, provide solutions that met their needs, while along the way, implementing changes and innovating in unique ways based on customer feedback and practical, logical internal business decisions. As part of the process, approximately two years ago, AMAG released Symmetry CONNECT, their physical identity management solution. And since, things have been advancing, most recent of which is Symmetry CONNECT’s integration with ServiceNow.

To understand the ServiceNow integration is to understand Symmetry CONNECT. “Symmetry CONNECT is a web-based platform; we sell it as a hosted solution, but you can also get it on-premise, where it automates the process of how somebody gets access,” Jonathan Moore, director of product management, AMAG Technology, explained to Security Systems News, offering the following example: Kim Rahfaldt is an employee of AMAG Technology based in the Wisconsin office, and based on her role, she is automatically assigned access within the CONNECT program. This information was pushed out into the access control system. Let’s say Kim needs to go AMAG’s office in L.A. Using CONNECT, she can go into the web portal, make a request for access and an “approver” [someone within the organization authorized to give access to other employees] can then grant access (or decline it) and CONNECT would automatically provision her into the access control system. 

Automation tools and web-based access was AMAG’s first step in this innovation story, and now, for step two — integration with ServiceNow. 

Any type of “change is a big thing, especially within a large organization,” Moore said. “Getting the entire employee base to adopt a new system or change the way they do things — there’s a lot of muscle memory involved and that’s really difficult to overcome, especially if employees are already using something that they really like, [namely, ServiceNow].”

ServiceNow is an IT workflow ticketing platform that is very flexible, easy to use, web-based and popular in the IT world at Fortune 1000 companies with many features that have been around for a long time. These long-lasting features focus on that workflow process that CONNECT touches on. 

“Let’s say you have 5,000 employees,” Moore said as an example. “The process of teaching that number of employees how to use Symmetry CONNECT when they’re already using ServiceNow would be a lot easier if we could just add CONNECT’s functionality into ServiceNow and have it integrated, rather than re-training that entire employee base and having a whole new application they would be required to manage.” 

It all ties back to listening to the customer. AMAG took the part of CONNECT that most people are using — so in essence, they’re saying most company’s employee base needs to make access credentials — and they started there, later reaching out with a partner and building an app that integrates back to their solution. 

“We don’t believe anyone else has done this before,” Moore said, referencing other security companies in the space. 

ServiceNow has a community; users can go into their platform and essentially, it’s similar to an app store. Users can find “CONNECT App by AMAG Technology,” download it and link it up with their Symmetry CONNECT system, allowing employees to make access requests. This can be in ServiceNow and it pushes across to AMAG Technology’s system so they take care of all the behind the scenes of putting it into the access control system, and other backend events that need to take place. 

“So, customers get the best of both worlds; physical access automation and the continuation of using the ServiceNow platform, allowing employees to stay within that application,” eliminating the need to jump into a new portal,” Moore said. 

The overall feeling at AMAG Technology regarding the convergence of the physical security world with the logical world is excitement, as the logical side becomes very interested in the data physical access control systems can provide. This includes exactly where people go within a building; types of access patterns people may have or develop; analytical reporting; etc. 

“There’s a lot of things we’re looking at,” Moore said. “I think this is really just phase one of the journey — dipping our toes into the whole thing, but there’s a lot of synergy that could occur between ServiceNow and AMAG’s product portfolio, and not just with CONNECT,” noting visitor management as an example, where the end user could register a visitor through ServiceNow integrated with AMAG’s visitor management product. 

Because the integration is new, AMAG has a couple of potential customers in their pipeline, but Interestingly, AMAG actually had, and still has, a large financial customer who’s been using CONNECT with ServiceNow before AMAG’s app was developed in placed into the ServiceNow platform. This customer had their own ServiceNow portal and they linked their portal into CONNECT through direct integration. 

From a deployment and implementation standpoint, AMAG developed their own access management platform that works with their Symmetry access control system. This means the deployment of the product is much quicker and streamlined than if dealing with two separate companies trying to work together with two completely different products. 

“I think we were one of the first access control companies to come out with an identity management solution,” said Moore. “Why I say it that way is there are specialists and that’s all they do – they’re a physical identity management solution and they don’t have their own access control systems. They have the automation part and they integrate with various access control systems.”

Moore explained that usually “an army of professional service engineers are involved” in the deployment process, but service costs are eliminated with AMAG’s platform and licensing can be quite a bit more cost-effective than other solutions. 

Because “this is a workflow automation tool that the end users are using, I think customers are going to be talking to them [security integrators] about it and be excited, more than the integrator bringing it to them,” Moore said. “Or, maybe some of the more innovative integrators will, but this isn’t typically a world they’re working in all that much.” 

For integrators wanting to be on the cutting-edge of innovation in the security industry, offering solutions that are easy to use, saves time and money, and offers flexibility is a great strategy, and this can be done with CONNECT and ServiceNow. End users won’t have to fuss with managing two separate platforms as there is only one set of credentials that have to be managed, producing a lot less touchpoints on another application that applies to their physical security system. Time will also be saved on training employees on a new system since a number of companies already use the ServiceNow platform.

“It cannot be underestimated having to go and train literally five, 10, 15 thousand people on a new system … the time that’s involved with this, it’s not insignificant,” Moore noted. “I think that’s really what the customers see as the benefit. They know and trust their system, and they don’t have to go and train thousands and thousands of people on a new system.” 

Additionally, ServiceNow, like CONNECT that has multiple levels of approval, is extremely flexible in how approvals can be set up, allowing users to build complex workflows. “That’s all that company [ServiceNow] focuses on is workflow and flexibility, and they’ve tested it to the nth degree, so customers get a lot of benefit from that side as well,” Moore said. 

In terms of the trending convergence of digital and physical security, this is a great way to make it real to people by showing them an everyday type of function that merge the two worlds together. 

“It’s bringing us much closer to what’s happening on the IT side, and that can only be a good thing,” Moore concluded.