Lessons Learned From a Pandemic ‘Storm Surge’

*Originally published on SecuritySales.com

What lessons have been learned and how do you make sense of a pandemic storm surge, technology wind speeds of 200mph and evacuation routes from customers’ facilities followed by so many marketing for panic buying?

I left you with an empty gas tank last month on your way to your new destination of Upsell Circle, a neighborhood where you enable customers to improve their security and safety lawn services.

Fill’er up, check the oil and clean the windshield! Do some of you remember those words? I promised a gas stop on your journey to Upsell Circle, that ritzy address in the gated community of “Upgraded Security Estates.”

Just didn’t describe that this gas station is from the 1950s! For you younger whippersnappers, that is how service was delivered to you at the gas station … sweet memories!

Sensors are getting “smarter.” Edge sensor technology powered by an AI/machine learning app, coupled with Cloud computing storage muscle, enables vast improvements in security performance capabilities through integrated approaches and with some imagination.

We need only look backward when IT started with IP cameras in that birthing room; remember that IP video technology was scoffed at, misunderstood, feared, limited by bandwidth availability and storage costs, and lack of technical competence.

The ultimate speedbump in the delivery of their potential was business owners’ resistance to change. It took 10+ years before becoming a mainstream product category. Why does that matter? Because that technology cycle time is dramatically shortening. Need an example?

Less than six months ago, as of October 2020, did you ever see an access reader that took your temperature, checked if you were wearing a facemask, integrated with visitor management and a reception-less lobby registration, validated authorization through not one but two biometric technologies; and could be standalone, networked or connected to other third-party access control software?

You get the picture. Get moving with this technology; you do not want to be stuck in a rut, especially of your own making.

Typical excuses I hear are, “Does this stuff really work” and “Will it be around for a while?” Many pundits trash evolving technology, picking apart initial shortcomings as they certainly did with IP video; however, I know one thing for sure. Technology continually evolves, improves and drops in price in shorter and shorter cycles.

One caveat is obviously unreputable companies with no history who continually hawk inferior products that are one dimensional. So, for all the naysayers, thank you! Your doubt will fuel engineers of credible companies to work harder for stronger solutions.

What lessons have been learned and how do you make sense of a pandemic storm surge, technology wind speeds of 200mph and evacuation routes from customers’ facilities followed by so many marketing for panic buying? Here are a few observations from my recovering engineer perspective and a 40-year+ industry veteran to perhaps move your team to a better zip code into the Upsell Circle neighborhood.

1. Start at the edge and work backward into more phased solutions. Pick the right edge sensor that delivers the most bang for the buck in terms of flexibility, adaptability and performance.

2. When looking to help customers get back to work safely, even when many of their associates aren’t working in their normal office, look at technology suppliers with some healthy skepticism. Do they offer a single solution or one that integrates with a bigger view of facility security? How long have they designed, innovated, manufactured and supported new designs of stronger entry controls in the last 10 years? Do they deliver a “layered approach” that will work with current legacy systems while providing a technology migration path?

Those suppliers that are simply taking advantage of a short-term crisis with low cost solutions will not be there in the future when senior management asks, “What is the next step?” Beware, do your homework and ask the right questions … how much they are investing in that next step? This will help you pass the “red face” test later, trust me.

3. How willing are these suppliers or distribution partners to “share technology risks” for implementation of new technologies? As a security consultant and new technology pioneer, I put myself in my customers’ shoes. What if this does not work; what is my career and credibility exposure? Human nature and self-preservation will stymie innovations and innovative solutions unless the reward outweighs the risk. Remove as much risk as possible and select suppliers that will step up and share your business risks for both success and failure. Get that in writing to be safe.

4. Your markets, customers and facility applications will vary wildly. Large venues with high volume require adequate resources vs. SMB facilities with more entry points and perhaps less resources. Both require a round peg in a round hole. Understand what technology best fits their operational, budgetary and throughput performance for frictionless and touchless solutions. Will the recommendations you make today be compatible with the other systems in the short- and long-term from a customer’s investment standpoint?

Change is incredibly difficult. Do your homework, choose carefully and gain feedback from other integrators who have had experience building new homes on Upgrade Circle. Then organize a block party and invite your customers!