State of the access control market, part I

Current physical access control (PAC) trends shaping the security industry
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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

YARMOUTH, Maine—The concept of access control is simple — to allow or restrict people, animals or things from gaining access to a particular space. At its core is some type of lock, mechanical or electronic, that must be breached legitimately, accidentally or forcefully to gain access. Once access is gained, the results can be advantageous, detrimental or even a combination of both.

Although simple to define, the complexity lies in formulating the best access control plan using the best of breed access control technologies available to produce unique results for each application. Herein lies the challenges for integrators and security consultants; although, understanding access control trends, now and going into the future; becoming and staying knowledgeable about all access control/locking technologies available to effectively serve the client; recognizing market gaps and strengths to understand the opportunities available to serve customers not currently using physical (PAC) access control strategies; and genuinely appreciating the health of the physical access control market are resourceful items to incorporate into a physical access control security business strategy.

According to B2B research firm Market and Markets’ February 2019 report about the access control market by component, vertical and geography, the access control market is excepted to grow from $7.5 billion, beginning in 2018, to $12.1 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 8.24%. The report indicates this growth is due to increasing global crime rates pushing the adoption of access control systems; technological advancements and deployment of wireless in security systems and the adoption of IoT-based security systems with cloud-based platforms. Huge growth opportunities were also presented in the report: access control as a service (ACaaS), mobile-based access control and increasing city growth in emerging countries.

Overlapping Market and Market’s report, in 2017, Memoori, a consultancy company providing independent market research, business intelligence and advice on smart building technologies, published a study about the size and major trends of the access control market from 2017 to 2022. In comparison, it mirrored some of Market and Markets’ report, predicting market growth with some drivers being ACaaS and wireless locking systems, but also adding biometric readers, identity management and more IP network penetration as drivers, all at a slightly lower CAGR of 8.04% in 2022 and sales of $10.10 billion that year. This seems plausible; however, indicating that between 2022 and 2024 the access control market is predicted to increase by approximately $2 billion in a span of two years.

All this access control and technological growth is exceptional for the security industry, and helping to guide and ride the wave along with security integrators and consultants are security- and physical access control-focused companies producing and offering first-class technologies and services, backed by industry-leading physical access control-minded security professionals.

To stay relevant in the physical access control marketplace, it’s important to know and keep up with the major trends shaping this niche. Trends reflect the wants and needs of consumers, and focusing on and serving the customer are essential for business success. Consider devoting some marketing efforts toward highlighting physical access control trends customers seek.

The following are major trends identified by various physical access control-focused companies that are shaping the market: 

Convergence and integration. The physical access control market is seeing a high use of some commonly over-used industry terms: “convergence” and “integration.” However, these terms have contributed to market growth in the past year and will continue propelling the access control market into the future. 

“Products from multiple manufacturers, more acceptance of cloud-based access control and video management platforms and an increased use of mobile credentials and mobile applications to manage platforms” have all resulted from converging and integrating, Joe Grillo, CEO, ACRE explained. 

Consumerization of security with mobile, wireless and cloud technologies. In the fast-paced, never-sleeping world consumers live in today, at the very least, they desire flexibility and convenience, and perhaps at the highest level, they demand, and in many situations have come to expect, customization and a personalized experience optimized specifically for them. Security companies are responding by creating mobile, wireless and cloud experiences that cater to the consumer.

“Mobile technology shows up in many forms, but the most influential right now is mobile credentials, because it puts security interactions in the hands of far more people than any previous user interface (UI),” Steve Van Till, president and CEO, Brivo, said. 

Bringing into play the flexibility that consumers seek and echoing Van Till in that mobile credentialing is a hot topic in security, Grillo said: “Mobile capabilities in access control are becoming more mainstream and in demand from end-user customers and integrators because they want the flexibility to use a smartphone to access specific areas.” 

Pressing/touching buttons, swiping left and right, up and down, voice texting and more on smartphones and other smart devices has become a part of daily life for the majority of the population. Grillo identifies this as another driver for the growth of mobile-enabled access control as this generation of consumers require control with the push of a button. “This trend will only become more prominent moving forward, as this generation continues to shape and transform the digital world.” 

To sum up mobile trends, Robert Lydic, VP of PACs OEM Business at Allegion believes one of the top technologies impacting access control is the mobile credential. “Innovations in credentials are changing the ways users interact with their locks and access control,” he said. 

In addition to mobile are wireless technologies and communications presenting new access control opportunities. 

For electronic access control, “wireless communication, especially Bluetooth and the development taking place within Bluetooth, mesh networking, and lower power consumption and longer ranges, provide the ability to leverage the IoT infrastructure for access control,” Steve Spatig, general manager, electronic access solutions, Southco, said. Tagged as intelligent door locking systems, leveraging IoT, as Spatig explained, allows locking and unlocking functions without installing cables — it’s all about the use of wireless electronic locks. 

Wireless technology with smart locks at the door “is driving down the cost per door for access control, and therefore expanding the addressable market at lower price points,” Van Till said. And, “when the price for a smart door is the same for a dumb door, dumb doors will cease to exist.” 

As smart doors become more prominent, additional solutions will be created and the cloud used more to provide greater user convenience. Steve Carney, VP of product marketing for physical access control at HID Global believes the biggest impact is coming from cloud-based access control solutions that “enable a connected mobile experience at the door.” For example, “armed only with their smartphones, building employees and guests will arrive at a door and simply tap their devices to a reader using Near-Field Communications (NFC) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE),” he explained. 

The ability to remotely control and manage a security system through a cloud-based platform is already available and in place, however, as Grillo pointed out, many small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have often been left out of the equation when it comes to enterprise access control options. This creates opportunities for security integrators and consultants to serve SMBs, and with “cloud-based technologies becoming more prominent and more accepted, this solves more access control connectivity issues without having to install additional software, which also makes servicing and usability much easier,” Spatig said. 

Balancing IoT usage, cybersecurity and the user experience (UX). Mobile, wireless and cloud technologies continue to provide the means to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, which can enhance UX while solving issues. For example, “equipment access is not burdened by the existing installed electronic access infrastructure used for building security,” Spatig said. He further explained that current infrastructure can be leapfrogged to better solutions that incorporate wireless and Bluetooth technology, and connect to IoT. This provides users with quicker access to new technologies while at the same time, saving on installation costs. Better solutions create an excellent user experience, with quicker access and cost savings added bonuses. 

“New IoT solutions can become an extension of the connected, digitized environment, allowing anyone using a piece of equipment to extend intelligent access to an enclosure,” Spatig said. However, Carney noted, “one of the biggest challenges is managing a rapidly growing number of connected endpoints in the IoT, while at the same time defending against cyber security threats that continue to become more complex.” To combat these challenges, Carney said that organizations must establish trust and validate the identity of people and “things.” 

Another cybersecurity concern mentioned is how much attention manufacturers pay to cybersecurity. “We see the industry leveraging learnings and best practices form adjacent technologies in IT, including requiring ISO27001 (Information Security Management System) Certification, and emphasizing regular, detailed third-party penetration tests,” Carney said, indicating these certifications and testing elements are incorporated into HID’s cybersecurity program.
Once IoT technologies are cyber secured, to reach a broader audience of user, “part of the competitive evaluation is shifting toward superior user experiences, which has always been a leading differentiator in every mature consumer technology market,” Van Till explained. 

People want to use their smartphones to do multiple actions that enhance security and provide a smooth access experience, from opening doors to authenticating themselves, incorporating IoT devices, and accessing certain areas and services. One way UX is enhanced is by integrating applications onto smartphones, which more end-users than not constantly have in their possession. “Organizations can create a connected and more intuitive experience for their users while simultaneously increasing security,” Carney said, dubbing this as “digital cohesion.” 

Other industry giants. Companies such as “Apple, Google, Amazon and Ring are finding their way into the access control world by offering solutions that leverage their install bases and present unique value propositions to the industry,” said Lydic. Combining industry giants’ solutions with “the proliferation of wireless locksets” is helping customers achieve “greater security benefits” as they “begin to understand seamless access.”

Products, innovations and observations. As the access control market continues to grow, technology, new and old, and thought-leadership is revolutionizing and impacting this space within the security industry. Lydic identified the “top technologies that will impact access control as the mobile credential, intelligent locksets and software that enhances business processes.” 

On the subject of locks, it’s all about solid functionality achieved via enhancements and upgrades to existing technology, fit and design. “Lock design is changing to a more contemporary style,” Nick English, national sales manager, Kwikset pointed out. “For example, a black finish is more cosmetic to make a lock fit in with existing hardware, making it less about new technology and more about aesthetics.” Additionally, consumers are very aware of home automation and want “touch locks, but people want a physical key as a backup, too,” English said. 

When it comes to connectivity, “more access control connectivity issues are solved without having to install additional software, making servicing and usability easier,” Spatig said. He also expounded on open standards, which support connectivity by “allowing devices to more easily integrate with each other.” This encourages interoperability and integration between security systems.

And, finally, through the power of thought leadership, a new trend has been identified: “’proptech,’ which is the name broadly given to the new class of technologies aimed at improving property management, tenant experience, real estate transaction enablement and virtually anything else that touches commercial real estate,” Van Till described. “It probably goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, the proptech field is 100 percent cloud-driven.”

Editor’s Note: I hope you enjoyed learning about current trends in the access control market and they will help you with your business. Coming soon is “State of the access control market, part II,” that will cover market gaps and strengths, and the future of this market with the help of all the security professionals quoted in this article.