The New Dynamics of Managed Access Control

In lean economic times, selling traditional access control solutions to customers can be a challenge.

Many security dealers and integrators, themselves battered by the last few years of downturn in the commercial market, are repositioning their businesses to more efficiently meet the needs of customers and are augmenting their traditional access control offerings with Web-hosted access control solutions. Positioned as a service rather than a systems sale, these solutions offer numerous additional benefits to the end-user, as well as provide a steady stream of recurring revenue to the dealer.

Gaining traction

While managed access control is not a new concept for the security market, the idea is gaining rapid acceptance with the overall rise in Web-hosted and Software as a Service applications (SaaS). Installers are finding new advantages to this approach to more efficiently and effectively service their customers; and as a tool for additional marketing and especially, customer retention strategies that work.

Dealers and integrators considering adding managed access to their product solutions should become familiar with a few key points before making the jump into offering this hosted solution to their customers.

Platform flexibility

Managed access control can come in many flavors and can be customized to meet the varied needs of your customer base.

With a hosted solution, end-users control and manage the access control system through a Web interface to the access control system housed on the dealer's servers. While the end customer is responsible for adding and deleting cards and performing other system management, the dealer ensures that the system is regularly backed up and the software is up to date because it resides on their secure servers.

The managed solution means that the dealer handles all aspects of system management, from managing access control cards and access levels of different personnel, to automated reporting and concierge services. End-users looking for some hands-on control of their system but who are not equipped to handle full system management can often work with their dealer or integrator to create a custom or hybrid solution that meets their needs.

Additional revenue opportunities

One significant emerging benefit of some platforms enables dealers and integrators to offer managed access control on a third party provider basis. This approach allows larger dealers to reap additional revenues by leveraging their existing infrastructure to host managed access accounts for other smaller dealers who lack the infrastructure or capital to jump into the game.

Some managed access control platforms allow an easy transition from hosted to managed or in between (hybrid), allowing customers to dial up or down the level of service they require from their systems integrator based on their current needs. Others offer a more focused approach with a solely hosted or fully managed solution.

Current versions of managed access control platforms also feature the convenience of the Web for ongoing system use and maintenance. In the past, end-users faxed, phoned or e-mailed requests to dealers to add and delete cards, change schedules and perform other routine items. Now managed access platforms offer a Web interface where end users can handle many of these functions from any Internet-connected device. Often these user interfaces can be branded with the dealer's company information and can also be used for targeted marketing purposes.

Advancements in managed access control technology, as well as the growing acceptance in Web-hosted and SaaS solutions provide a glimpse into the future of this market. Dealers and integrators adopting this type of solution will find themselves well positioned to offer similar solutions as security technology continues to transition to hosted and managed solutions.

Guido DiPilla is business development manager, Kantech Managed Access Control, (a Tyco International Co.), North America. He can be reached at