Integration: Crossing the Great Divide

Sept. 10, 2012
The converging residential and light commercial markets allow dealers and integrators to add value and services in additional disciplines

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of SD&I magazine

SD&I magazine recently interviewed Jason Williams, general manager of Yale Residential, Yale Locks & Hardware, an ASSA ABLOY Group Co., based in New Haven, Conn., about the Yale Real Living portfolio of residential access control and home security solutions and the ongoing integration of security, access control, audiovisual and IT functions. Here are his insights:

Q. What are some examples of how integrators should pitch security systems today?
A. “I think the smarter integrators are evolving their business models and pitching their services less as one-off installations but instead as a consultant-type proposition that enables their residential and commercial clients to have customized integrated systems coupled with advanced service and support. This typically means tight integration of access control and security technologies with home automation and audiovisual (AV) technologies so it’s a bigger sale for the integrator but it’s also a stickier model—meaning they can retain clients longer and capitalize on design and maintenance service contracts.

 For the clients, the value proposition of this model makes a compelling pitch. The primary advantage is a whole home system that adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts—meaning better value and better performance. The secondary advantage is that as we’ve also become a very data-centric society, the ability of these locks to provide actionable information to the homeowner—and to other technologies on the network—has become a strong value proposition: Now the homeowner has real-time input on their single largest investment. Finally, the confidence of knowing if the system needs to be upgraded, troubleshot or repaired, and that there is an expert-partner who knows the technology and knows the home or venue and is immediately on-hand if needs dictate. Clients appreciate this concierge-grade care and they’re willing to pay for it in the increasingly convergent residential and light commercial markets.”

 Q. Can you address the current state of the residential security market? Has it rapidly changed even in the last 12 months?

A. “Absolutely; the pace of change of technology has been nothing short of phenomenal. Driven by IP innovation, digital technologies that were once discreet domains are converging rapidly. So you’re seeing access control technologies like the Yale Real Living portfolio existing on the same network as automation, control and AV technologies. Couple this shift with Moore’s Law and these amazing new technologies are increasingly more affordable, so the market universe has noticeably more volume than even 12 months ago. The combined effect of convergent, more affordable technologies has also led to market-level changes as integrators are beginning to cut across disciplines and also cross the residential/light commercial divide.

Economically, the deflated housing market of the past 12 months has meant that many homeowners are staying in their properties longer than in a bullish market. Our experience has been that instead they’re investing in making those homes more comfortable and better equipped.”

 Q. How is Yale addressing the future of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology? How is it incorporating this technology into future product developments?   

A. “The access control technology community is capitalizing on the infrastructure being built out for banking. You’re also seeing strong innovation from the access control community—notably from Yale’s sister company, HID, that is bringing a lot of experience and innovation firepower to NFC. We are productizing that innovation for the residential marketplace, incorporating NFC into our mobile locks and developing applications to use a phone on the run as a credential.”

Q. What trends are currently driving the security/access control industry and what can we expect in the future? 
A. “Undoubtedly, convergence is a huge trend that is driving market-level and system-level changes to our industry. Some of these changes require adjustment to how we design and deploy security and access control systems and how we as an industry run the business. However, most of the change is very good: it’s enabling better systems that are increasingly affordable to a broader market so the universe to whom we can sell to is growing all the time. I think both of these trends will continue and that they’ll present strong opportunities to the integrators who can embrace change and deliver value.

 Another trend is the increasing capacity of dealers to provide remote troubleshooting. Our Yale Real Living suite taps into this trend and enables dealers to provide that depth of care without having to invest in additional resources: instead of getting a truck and a crew rolling they can manage the situation remotely. This enables vastly improved productivity!”

Q. In speaking with dealers what are the key issues they are being asked to address in today’s security market?
A. “Dealers and integrators that I speak with are continually being asked to deliver more for less. Clients understand the enormous capabilities of technology and everyday they experience the advantages of cutting-edge security and access control technologies. Now, they’re looking to dealers to harness the power of these advances and to provide consultant-like design partnership with systems integration and support. This is both an opportunity and a threat. If the dealer does not evolve, he/she risks getting left behind. We’re working very hard to support progressive dealers. By putting together optimal products and programs, we’re giving them the tools to sell with a comprehensive pull campaign.”

Q. Everything is going on the network these days. How is Yale addressing the merging of security/access control with other installed technology subsystems along an IP-addressable infrastructure?
A. “We recognize the phenomenal market potential of IP systems and we’re investing and innovating accordingly. Part of this means listening to dealers and addressing the challenges and opportunities they encounter in the field but it’s also working with other technology partners to be sure we’re innovating at the optimal pace and that we’re interoperable with partner IP technologies. The key is that we are focused 100 percent on access control and integrating our locks into system level solutions. It is our strategy.”

Q. What is today’s customer comfort level with keyless entry products for their homes?
A. “Customers have a high comfort level with keyless entry—in fact we see our Yale Real Living suite meeting latent demand. Consumer confidence in wireless technologies comes from years of experience with secure wireless technologies in the home, garage and in the workplace. There’s also the confidence they gain from working with established access control brands. We have been in the access control business for 20 years in electronics and over 150 years in mechanical, and our organizational commitment to rock-solid security is well documented. We’re bringing customers the best of both worlds: coupling market-proven access control with bleeding edge wireless and no small amount of aesthetic design.”

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